Janet Cardiff   To Touch

January 22, 1994 - March 6, 1994

Curator: Joan Stebbins
Organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery with funding assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and The Canada Council.

This interactive installation by Lethbridge artist Janet Cardiff flouts the normal taboos of museum behaviour and makes the desire to touch a rewarding attribute rather than a deviant or transgressive act. The piece consists of a rough, old wooden worktable surrounded by twenty small, rectangular speakers mounted on the walls of a darkened gallery. The table’s rich surface, pushed into relief by spotlights, invites spectators to run their hands over the ridges of dry wood, the deep gouges and cracks. These motions activate photocells which, in turn, trigger specific sound bites that flow out of the speakers into the auditory space of the room. Thus, the spectator’s Thus, the spectator’s movements generate the table’s eerie voice, which speaks in layered, partial and provisional stories and sounds. To Touch foregrounds touching, listening, and imagining over looking. By appealing to the senses and emphasizing the corporeality of the body, the artist specifies two symptoms of contemporary culture that are rarely privileged.

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