Opera for a Small Room – A Music Installation

Opera for a Small Room

Some time ago, I visited the Museu d´Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). Most exhibited artworks could only raise limited interest in me, but there was one exception: The music installation „Opera for a Small Room“ by Janett Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Unlinke our interactive music installation Dave, this installation is not interactive, but it is nevertheless impressive.

Using a narrator and music, Opera for a Small Room tells the fictitious story of a record collector with a love for the opera and a beautifully melancholic love story.

The installation is composed of a huge wooden cabinet – the very size of a small room. Visitors can look into the room through window-like openings. Opera for a Small Room resembles a small room, but there are more than roomlike elements like chandeliers and shelves. The room is stuffed with gramophones, speakers and vinyl records. There is even a megaphone mounted to the wall.

The whole sound and music collage of the installation derives from these requisites. The protagonist speaks and sings out of the megaphone. When music is used, a gramophone starts. The whole acoustics of the music have the stylistics of old vinyl records or megaphone distortions. Only at very few points in the story there is surround sound from outside of the chamber.

Besides this, Opera for a Small Room shines with light effects and on one occasion with a coherently jiggling chandelier.

All this creates a beautifully dense atmosphere. Fortunately, the music meets my personal taste as well.

For a better optical impression, you can take a look at a 360° panorama by Außerdem gibt es von Kay-Uwe Rosseburg right from the (unaccessible) center of the installation.


Title: Opera for a Small Room
Year: 2005
Length: 20 minutes
German version of this Article: Opera for a Small Room – Eine Musikinstallation

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