Her Long Black Hair

Janet Cardiff is a Canadian sound artist whom I just heard about her last year while doing her sound walk called “Her long black Hair (2004)”. Which according to her description of the piece is a:

“…complex sensory investigation of location, time, sound, and physicality, interweaving stream-of-consciousness observations with fact and fiction, local history, opera and gospel music, and other atmospheric and cultural elements.”

            Personally I think that the purpose of this sound walk is to disconnect the user from the reality with audio, by using at the same time real time objects (park environment), that would help create a “unique walk for everyone (Sara Ivry)”. The use of binaural recording and equalization allows you to feel the pan and effects (for example reverb) of sounds while you are walking through the paths and different environments in the park, which even makes you look back or to another direction thinking that someone or something is there.

The fact of being most of the time in movement and changing panoramas prevent the sound walk to fall into monotony and boring experience. Megan Ratner attributes that this creates an inner feeling saying, “…walking is one of our strongest links to our ancestors.”

Other attribute that stands out this experience is the mix of body and technology and how even though the narrator (Cardiff) is not physically present the user can’t feel that void, it seems like she’s is always with you in this journey.

As conclusion I would recommend this experience to everybody, because there are moments in the experience where the story telling matches with the reality and makes you wonder if that was the intention of the artist or just coincidence.


  1. Ivry, Sara, 2004. “It’s a Walk in the Park. No, Really”. The New York Times.
  2. Ratner, Megan, 2007. “Janet Cardiff”. Frieze Magazine.
  3. Nedelkopoulou, Erini, 2011. “Walking Out on Our Bodies Participation as ecstasis in Janet Cardiff’s Walks”. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts

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