I have only walked past a small corner of Central Park when I was on the way to the Met, so I decided to take this “Her Long Black Hair” audio walk yesterday as my official first visit to Central Park.
After the earphones had been plugged in, I was amazed by loud traffic mixing with the sound of horses and riders. The transition from the street noises to the quiet footsteps of Janet Cardiff drew my attention to the entrance of the south of the park, preparing for an unknown journey with her soft voices accompanied.
When she asked me to see the first picture, the background music recreated the scenery of a gathering in 1965, in sharp contrast with the modern scenes in front of me. And the contrast theory that Janet mentioned during the way to the lake resonates with me too, following her steps and thinking about my footsteps, which is “one to the future, the other one to the past” added much fun to my walk.
When taking an audio walk, I think it is better not to force myself trying to find every detailed object she mentioned. Instead, it is delightful thinking and imagining about the changes of scenes now and then, and even more surprising to find the coincidences that had happened both in the present and the past. With her directions, my eyes started to focus on people around and see if people today were sunbathing, talking or running, just like what Janet encountered. Listening to her memories about her first visit to NYC, the reflection on our younger selves touched me most, “she seems a different person to me, but somehow I remember her memories”.
It’s absorbing to hear Janet’s understanding and guesses about the woman in the pictures, and I was drowning into the scenario of her posing in front of the camera. Or someone was walking toward her followed by a kissed and whisper through the ears, at which time the audio turned into a whisper from a man. Janet smartly picked up a beautiful song “Black Hair” as the BGM for the time being inside the tunnel, and when the music started, I noticed echo effects to added it which made me feel like being in a live show right in here.
My favorite experiment of hers is the walking back one, as I took one step another heading back, the background voices surrounding started with a rewinding sound effect, made me feel more immersive in the ideal environment. Following her to the children zoo near the seals, I can hear kids complaining to her mom; somehow they have grown up and perhaps at the same age as me, maybe we might walk past each other in this big city I guess?
Relaxing on the bench and gazing the exact location where the black hair woman’s picture took, Janet shared her fondness of watching someone being unconscious and lost in other worlds, which reminded me of a video game I played last summer. The game is called “Life Is Strange” and a creepy art teacher enjoys taking photos of unconscious female students…which is quite the opposite of the love between Janet and her husband haha.
Following her descriptions of her pictures taken when she was an art student, such as sunlight hitting the concrete, I started to record my moments too.
When she told me to look to the left of the mall, I saw a man leaning against the flagpole with his dog, both staring far, with the flags hanging at half mast. What were they thinking? It was 911 yesterday.
I always love randomness. I love all the random encountering which makes me grateful for each miracle. The overlaps of the drums near the angel fountain continually dragged me from reality to the virtual tour. When Janet was asked to take a picture of others on the bridge, I was just experiencing the same situation 5-minute before she.