toronto

Janet Cardiff

The Power Plant

Janet Cardiff’s installation To Touch, 1993, reminds us that memory is encoded in our bodies and that touch can trigger a flood of associations. This sound-based installation depended on the spectator to establish corporeal connections between sound, touch, and memory. Except for a rough table, worn with the years and still bearing a few traces of paint, the large, dim space was empty. Twenty small speakers hung from the ceiling along the edges of the room. When a visitor approached the table and touched it, the speakers would emit sounds corresponding to specific places on the table’s surface. Startling at first, this effect became a cajoling dance between the visitor and the room, in which quick touches, sustained pressure, or sweeps of the hand brought forth different combinations of sound that moved through the room like a physical presence.

Many of the sounds were actually voices: some

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