Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Night Walk for Edinburgh

Night Walk for Edinburgh is an imaginative, exciting and emotional tour through Edinburgh's Old Town

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 28 Aug 2019
  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Night Walk for Edinburgh

With a borrowed smartphone and headphones, the Night Walk starts immediately outside Cockburn St's The Milkman. “Walk with me, not too fast," the voice (Cardiff’s) asks. The artists have made a moving image work for the small screen of a phone held directly at the centre of the viewer’s line of sight roughly at arm’s length, a filmic version of augmented reality.

Loose historical facts are strewn at certain points. With a penchant for the gruesome, an overheard tourguide’s voice directs attention to a specific door where criminals would have their ears nailed. You could leave whenever you liked, she jokes darkly.

The video glitches at points to a crime scene investigation on the street as a group of three observe the area closely, a parallel made between the slow observation that Cardiff demands and the patient eye of a sleuthing detective. 

Grisly threat is punctuated by parts that are elegant and wondrous. One of the many players that populate the video hangs some washing in the yard of an old block of flats. A figure emerges from behind the washing and they dance a complicated choregraphy around the washing line. 

It’s a surprise to see Cardiff appearing in the video. She talks with a homeless man about his childhood and the freedom of living near the woods and going running with his pet dog. The camera pulls away and we’re told his daughter died the year before, the grief of which managed to pull his life into impossible difficulty. Cardiff thinks aloud how similar her experience growing up was to his.

Wandering alongside the audience, Cardiff’s narration is completely engaging throughout. Resourceful technological novelty, pitch-perfect vocal delivery and well-crafted storytelling combine to form an enchantingly captivating nighttime détournement. [Adam Benmakhlouf]

Run ended; Night Walk for Edinburgh will be restaged regularly from early 2020