Janet Cardiff // Reading Response

In this reading, the main gist of it is the idea of “measuring technology’s impact on the senses”. Cardiff and Miller mainly focus on immersive multimedia works that invoke a multisensory experience.

Two artworks were described in the reading, the Janet Walking tour and the Opera for a Small Room.

Janet Walking Tour

It is interesting how just with the simple use of sound as a medium can create an immersive experience.

As mentioned in the reading, the different layers in a sound sculpture can invoke the other senses. “Within a clean and tidy place, we may sniff the stench of rotten food or inhale the scent of a long-lost loved one.”

These sound sculptures are so immersive that it becomes “true to life” as said in the reading that we start questioning “actuality and invention”.

In the modern-day context, technological advancement in sound has allowed for the creation of 8D audio. I can’t imagine how even more immersive and ming-boggling the walking tours would be if 8D audio was added in. Participants would be turning heads to check whether what they are hearing is real or part of the work.

Now, what does an immersive audio experience has anything to do with interactive spaces?

I think in many interactive artworks, there is a sort of narrative that the artist wishes to convey to the audience. I believe immersing the audience into a character will help them understand the narrative better as compared to viewing it from a third-person perspective. In the walking tours, participants metamorphosis into Janet. While in the headset, they are experiencing Janet’s perspective. This can often be found in games as well where players are given an identity in which they follow their story.

Furthermore, the form of the immersion into a narrative need not only be just using visuals, but audio is also a powerful tool.

Opera for a Small Room

Making a return to a theatrical experience – “returned to the traditional audience role of sedentary receiver of experience.”

Common throughout their artworks, they like to question what is real and what is in their heads.

What is interesting to me about this artwork is the medium that they used. In a way, constructing that room where there is a divide between the audience and the artwork highlights the artifice of it all. It creates a distance but at the same time, audiences are drawn in through the sound. They designed it in such a way that the audiences are made aware that they are watching a “play”.

In an interactive space, when we’re creating a replica of an existing location, naturally the artificialness of the space is obvious.  Nonetheless, the space should still draw the audience in. The Opera for a Small Room is a good example of how to draw the audience in through sounds.


Cardiff and Miller are key figures in displaying how the use of sounds can create an immersive experience. This is something that should be considered in an interactive space. As much as we have the sensors and outputs to deliver our message, it is important to create the environment in line with the space. Making use of sounds can help our audience immerse themselves and also strengthen our narrative.

Published by

Norafizah Normin

Leap of Faith

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