The Emperor's Canary

Outdoor Sound Art Installation

This elegant outdoor sculptural sound art installation is located on two proximate symbolic sites: the entrance to the Annex of the Johnson Museum and the Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove. Seeking to invite participants to join in the duration of sound, the two sites present different electronic sound tracks whose low volumes solicit attentive listening. Referencing Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, the installation’s two gramophones play a compilation of sounds that call upon the crisis in our relationship to the environment – calls of nearly extinct bird species, howls of animals living in the vicinity of Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, noises of Great Pacific Garbage Patch and saws felling trees in the European primeval forest, quick phrases from Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and from one of the world’s numerous endangered languages, and breathing of a person with black lung disease. This past year, the artists featured a different variant of this piece on the High Line in Manhattan; their work also is featured in the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum’s “The Message: New Media Works.”

  • September 27 - December 1, 2018
  • Johnson Museum Annex &
    Sesquicentennial Grove (Libe Slope)

Carrie Mae Weems (US)

Department of Architecture, Art, and Planning; Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media; Cornell Library

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