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Organ in an empty, dark room
Organ in an empty, dark room

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller     After the summer of smoke and fire
Installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York, NY

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

Through Oct. 23 at Luhring Augustine, 531 West 24th Street, Manhattan.

As a critic, I’m always jealous of the joys that artists get from making a work, while I’m limited to the different pleasures that come from taking it in.

In their show at Luhring Augustine in Chelsea, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, the well-known Canadian duo, correct that creative imbalance with a fantastic piece called “The Instrument of Troubled Dreams.”

For years, the couple’s signature works have incorporated recorded speech and sounds into surreal installations: “Escape Room,” in the gallery’s rear space, looks like the workshop of some mad model maker and includes snippets of equally deranged audio. Cardiff and Miller’s “Instrument,” in the gallery’s main room, takes the sounds they have always used but lets the audience decide how to put them together.

In the center of the room sits what looks like a normal upright piano. Step up to play it, and you notice a strip of classic Dymo tape stuck above every key: “Wind Gusts” or “Cat Fight” or “Police” read some; others say “Kerk Organ,” “Synth Track” or “Guitar”; 11 keys are labeled simply “Vocal.” Press a key, and the sound named above it echoes through the room.

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