When art changed my life – Trudy Martin
The Paradise Institute installation is an interactive experience in sound, sculpture and performance art created by Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
I was an art student visiting Berlin. It was 2004 and the city was still a construction site, where pockets of artistic freedom amongst dilapidated buildings had yet to be gentrified. The Hamburger Banhof is a destination for any art student and one salon had staged a plywood construction with two doors. You stepped up holding the scaffold handrail to enter a space with 2 rows of cinema seats. Each chair had headphones which we were asked to put on, before the lights went out. As my eyes adjusted to the dark there was movement or the sense of movement around me, until I realised it was coming through the headphones. In front of me I could make out the faint outline of a vast cinema with seating, stage and screen, balconies, and walkways. It was not (for me) about a film we were about to watch on screen. It was everything else as I adjusted to the 3D audio of film and the rustle of a coat and quiet conversation from an invisible audience. It was dark but the ephemeral light shadowed the stage setting, that was a model in miniature, and you realised YOU were enveloped within the experience, between reality and a version of reality. That was when art made me cry. I walked out of the installation and my life changed.
Images courtesy of Janet Cardiff : A Survey of Works Including Collaborations with George Bures Miller (ISBN 0-9704428-3-1)