Follow your ears through the city’s premier public space


In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. Had the naturalist been able to slip on a pair of headphones and experience artist Janet Cardiff’s semi-narrated ramble through Central Park, he might have left behind more than just occupations. For an hour he might have transcended even midtown Manhattan at 95 degrees. This walk leads participants in the footsteps of an “enigmatic dark-haired woman,” using binaurally recorded (like HDTV for the ears) music, sound effects, and narration. Besides Her Long Black Hair, which opened at the park last year and proved popular enough for this year’s encore, Cardiff’s aural art has guided ambulating adventurers through the MOMA, the Villa Medici in Rome, the streets of London’s East End, and the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. Walkers should set aside at least an hour for the excursion—a lunch hour, maybe—and will need to leave a driver’s license or credit card at the kiosk to get a Walkman, headphones, and for those who get too lost in the story, a map showing the way back.