Night Walk for Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Old Town breathes history, sometimes with a roar, and sometimes with a whisper. Traces of the past saturate Night Walk for Edinburgh, the immersive arts experience from Jane Cardiff and George Bures Miller. It makes for an often unsettling, often captivating and consistently fascinating experience.

an often unsettling, often captivating and consistently fascinating experience

The walk begins at the Milkman coffeeshop at the bottom of Cockburn Street. Furnished with a pair of headphones and a small handheld tablet, attendees are sent on a solitary walk through the cobbled streets and shadowed closes of the Old Town. We're led by a video which plays out on the small screen, and by the haunting dreamlike narrative which is led by Cardiff’s soft Canadian tones.

This is one of a series of walks which the two artists have done in locations across the globe. For the old town, the focus is strongly on the literary, with references to Edinburgh’s Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde sprinkled through the walk. Not to mention a reference to The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by the Borders writer James Hogg.

It is certainly the latter two works which inform the feel of the experience. The video plays out with Lynchian disquiet as dark grates turn into haunted alcoves, people are laid waste by the touch of an ethereal on-screen finger, and scenes and characters appear and disappear into the night. It encourages a constant feeling of threat, which constantly bubbles below the picturesque veneer. Engaging in the experience is to walk the thin and often blurred line between the two.

Indeed, the whole experience is infused with a focus on liminality - day slipping into night, the live world blending with the on-screen action, imagination bleeding into reality. Even the selection of Old Town vents which house cryptic fragments of text represent that feature of a building which marks a breakdown of the internal and external.

When it works best, the sound of whispers in your ear or the cascading footsteps of runners rushing past really pulls you in. At other times, the reality of the Edinburgh streets both compromises and contributes to the engagement with words and images you’re presented with. The canvas for this art is a live city, and it can throw up interesting and unexpected parallels with the onscreen action.

By the end of the walk, you’re advised to take a moment after removing the headphones to recalibrate to the reality around you. While the words and images of the Night Walk leave you at this point, the haunting feeling of the experience continues to linger on.

Reviews by Alec Martin

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall / theSpaceTriplex

Hustlers

★★
Festival Theatre

Eugene Onegin

★★★
Around Edinburgh / The Milkman

Night Walk for Edinburgh

★★★★
Church Hill Theatre

Roots

★★★★
Assembly Rooms

The Living Room

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller present an intimate, one-on-one video walk in which the audience are guided by specially created video through Edinburgh’s Old Town at twilight. The sound is recorded using binaural microphones to create a three-dimensional sound experience as Cardiff’s voice leads you on a journey through the city past and present, conjuring a parallel Edinburgh that engages all the senses.

Cardiff and Miller are internationally recognised artists, renowned for their work in installation, video and sound. They were last in Edinburgh for their 2008 exhibition, The House of Books Has No Windows at The Fruitmarket Gallery, and have created unique audio walks for cities around the world. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, Night Walk for Edinburgh will transform your perception of the Festival City.

Janet Cardiff, George Bures Miller Artists

Commissioned for the city of Edinburgh by The Fruitmarket Gallery, presented in partnership with Edinburgh International Festival and in association with Edinburgh Art Festival

Acquired by The Fruitmarket Gallery with Art Fund support


Supported by High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom

Supported by The Cardiff Miller Commission Circle


More information about some of the artists:

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
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