Sound, space, time, motion and form are holistically intertwined in most works of Cardiff and Miller. By situating their installations in territory in-between musical, dramatic performance, and art structures, they make possible an acoustic and visual correlation with the spaces in which they intervene. They tell us stories inspired by their own biographies, injecting them with some elements taken from fiction literature.

Their stories will be in this exhibition in which MARCO will present 9 of their most important works created between 2001 and 2015, and will offers to the viewers a particularly deep look to their enigmatic pieces that, while generating sense of confusion, flood the senses and emanate meanings.

The Marionette Maker, 2014
This kinetic installation comprises a full-scale vintage caravan that houses a myriad of characters in a haunting environment. The interior of the trailer reveals the fantastic world of a marionette maker (a marionette himself), who is hunched over a desk drafting designs attempting to create life around him. A full replica of Cardiff lies sleeping at one end of the trailer surrounded by small moving creatures in a scene reminiscent of Gulliver’s travels. Perhaps the absent inhabitant of the caravan, the user of the dirty coffee cups, the real maker himself amuses himself by trying to create life while waiting for his sleeping companion to wake.

Conversation with Antonello, 2015
Conversation with Antonello was produced for Soundscapes, a 2015 exhibition at the National Gallery (London), in which 6 artists were commissioned to create responses to a work from their collection. Conversation with Antonello is Cardiff and Miller’s response to Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome in his Study (1475).

Cardiff and Miller created an installation work that attempts to understand the creative process and the architectural space of Messina’s painting by reconstructing it in a 3-dimensional architectural model. Through the front archway of the wooden structure the viewers are able to see the intricate interior of the monastery, some of the props that adorn the painting and even the exterior pastoral landscape visible through the far windows of the model. The space is further brought to life with lighting and sounds effects. As the viewer examines the work, the lighting slowly shifts from daylight to evening. Corresponding sounds from the hypothetical landscape surround the viewer. The footsteps sound of an unknown person, as they make their way through the landscape and into the interior space of the monastery; and the voice of a countertenor, Bernhard Landauer, singing Vergine Bella (Guillaume DuFay, 1397-1474) emerges within the structure and wanders through its halls.

Opera for a Small Room, 2005 There are twenty-four antique loudspeakers out of which come songs, sounds, arias, and occasional pop tunes. almost two thousand records are stacked around the room and eight record players, which turn on and off robotically syncing with the soundtrack. The sound of someone moving and sorting albums is heard. The audience cannot enter the room. To see and hear his world, they have to look through windows, holes in the walls, and cracks in the doorways and watch his shadow move around the room.

Using words, music, objects, lighting, and sound effects, the piece posits an absent inhabitant. The voice drops hints and suggests the existence of a tragedy in the speaker's life, yet little in spelled out. The narrative of Opera for a Small Room unfolds like a dream sequence, twisting and turning unexpectedly, veering sharply from one memory to another.

The Killing Machine, 2007
Partly inspired by Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony and partly by the American system of capital punishment as well as the current political situation, the piece is an ironic approach to killing and torture machines. A moving megaphone speaker encircles an electric dental chair. The chair is covered in pink fun fur with leather straps and spikes. In the installation are two robotic arms that hover and move- sometimes like a ballet, and sometimes attacking the invisible prisoner in the chair with pneumatic pistons. A disco ball turns above the mechanism reflecting an array of colored lights while a guitar hit by a robotic wand wails and a wall of old TV’s turns on and off creating an eerie glow.

In our culture right now there is a strange deliberate and indifferent approach to killing. Cardiff and Miller’s interest in creating this piece comes from a response to that.

In his masterwork, Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time), August Sander worked to create an exact photography that catalogued and contextualized individuals from the various social strata to underscore the “true psychology” of early twentieth-century Germany, unsentimentally capturing a society in transition, shifting from agriculture to industry. Seydou Keïta, on the other hand, made portraits of predominantly urban middle-class Bamako residents, during a period of dramatic shifts in Malian familial hierarchies, migration, and political movements in the decade just prior to the country’s independence from France. The poses and gestures that Sander’s and Keïta’s modern sitters adopt suggest their agency as witnesses, as well as participants in the construction of historical narratives.

Experiment in F# Minor, 2013
On a large table sits a collection of bare speakers of all shapes and sizes. Light sensors are inlaid into the edge of the table and as the viewers move around the room, their shadows cause the various sound and instrumental tracks to fade up and overlap, mingle and fade down. Numerous viewers in the room create a cacophony of musical compositions that vary according to where the audience walks or how many people are in the room. When the space is empty, the table fades to silence.

The Forty Part Motet, 2001
The earliest piece in this exhibition, The Forty Part Motet, from 2001, is surely the most celebrated and frequently exhibited of Cardiff and Miller’s installations, and yet an outlier in their oeuvre. The piece reproduces in fortychannel audio a live performance of Spem in Alium, a polyphonic choral work by the fifteenth-century English composer Thomas Tallis. His composition was performed for the artists by members of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir (most of them were children) and other singers, a total of fifty-nine voices, each recorded individually. The artists then mixed the fifty-nine tracks down to forty and clustered them for the installation in five “choirs” of eight loudspeakers, one choir each for soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass, and mounted in an elliptical arrangement at approximately the height of an adult head.

Presented nearly seventy times around the world, it serves as a textbook technical example of the effective use of sound in the gallery. The idea for the piece was Janet’s alone and came to her fully formed. George planned and oversaw the installation’s technical development but did not measurably influence the work’s aesthetic conception or artistic realization.

The Carnie, 2010
This piece combines the artists' interests in spectacle, narrative, and sculptural sound. Is a children's carousel with six figures, lights, drums, and two child mannequins suspended overhead. A start button activates the piece: the carousel rotates, a light sequence casts shadows on the gallery walls, and a soundtrack plays, and a male voice whispers, causing a genuinely amusing but strangely unsettling effect.

What's clear is that the piece is haunted by someone unseen but very much in the room. This frisson of presence and absence infuses The Carnie with that strange, unexpected magic the artists are always seeking.

Sync No Sync, 2017
Within Cardiff and Miller's oeuvre, the most unusual piece in this exhibition is Sync No Sync. It answers a question that anyone who spends time with their art will eventually ask, namely, "How do they collaborate as a couple to make their work, to distill their ideas and make them happen?" This is a key question because the distinctive blend offered up in their art—its reliance on sound, its aggressive exploitation of the possibilities offered by new technologies, and its particular narrative and psychological dimensions—is arguably traceable to their collaboration as a creative couple who bring to the partnership a uniquely broad menu of art-making skills and impulses.

It features two intertwining conversations about making a new piece, one conducted "live" in their car as they drive through rural British Columbia near their home, the other played back simultaneously on the car's CD player. After the drive concludes, a final video-recorded conversation in their studio completes the work. The easy give-andtake between the artists in this piece reveals a longstanding artistic partnership that rests on trust, respect for each other’s ideas, a willingness to disagree and challenge each other, and a good sense of humor on both sides.

The Murder of Crows, 2008
This large installation, The Murder of Crows, continues Cardiff Miller's explorations in creating sculptural and physical sound. Ninety-eight audio speakers are mounted around the space on stands, chairs and the wall creating a minimalist flocking of speakers. The structure of the piece tries to mirror that of the illogical but connected juxtapositions that we experience in the dream world. One soundscape moves into another with an electronic dreamscape composition shifting into sound effects such as factory noises, crashing waves or birds wings and then into a guitar and strings composition then into a choir sequence and marching band.

The title for the installation is The Murder of Crows, which means a grouping of crows. Sometimes when a crow dies, many other crows flock to the area around the dead bird and caw for over 24 hours, creating a 'crow funeral'. The title also provides a thematic entry into the installation; a basis to create a work that becomes a metaphor for our political situation today.

Another central theme for the piece is Goya's Sleep of Reason Brings False Monsters from the etching series Los Caprichos. In this particular one Goya shows a man asleep, his head resting on his folded arms. Owls and bats fly menacingly around his head; at his feet, a lynx sits motionless, alert and staring.

© MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO DE MONTERREY, 2016 | Zuazua y Jardón S/N, Centro. Monterrey, N.L. Mexico, 64000 | Ph. +52 (81) 8262.4500

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