The City of Forking Paths

Related to City Art
Installed 2014
Hands holding a smart phone in landscape orientation. On the phone screen is a blue background with white text reading "The City of Forking Paths". Another person looks at a phone in the background.
A person wearing a backpack and headphones holds a smartphone up to eye level while standing in Customs House.
A hand holds a smartphone in landscape orientation. The point of view is of the person holding the phone as they walk down an empty laneway. The phone screen shows the same laneway, but full of people.

A twilight video walk from Customs House through The Rocks, experienced on a mobile device.

Artist: George Bures Miller, Janet Cardiff
Curator: Juliana Engberg

Artwork description

“Immerse yourself in the engrossing world of fact and fiction as artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller lead you on a twilight video walk around The Rocks.

“Experienced on a smart phone or mobile device, The City of Forking Paths leads people on a fictional journey through physical surrounds at dusk. Starting at Customs House in Circular Quay, the work weaves a trail through The Rocks.

“Against the backdrop of real streets, the artists invent fictional scenarios and incidents for users to discover along the way. Guided by the voice of Janet Cardiff, familiar streets, made mystical at dusk, become the backdrop for an unfolding narrative of memory, displacement and desire.

“The title is an homage to Jorges Luis Borges’ story, The Garden of Forking Paths, a tale that uses the genre of a spy story to uncover questions of time and loss.”

– Juliana Engberg, artistic director 19th Biennale of Sydney

Artwork terms of use

To experience this work as the artists intended, we recommend you start this walk inside Customs House after sunset, using quality headphones. 

To use the City of Forking Paths audio walk, you agree to the following terms:

  • You must be 18 years or older, unless accompanied by an adult. The walk is not suitable for children under 12 years old.
  • You understand and acknowledge that experiencing this artwork contains elements of obvious and inherent risk. These include risks created by feelings of distraction and disorientation.
  • You agree to release, hold harmless and indemnify the City of Sydney and the artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller against any action, demand, cost, liability or loss due to any damage, loss injury or death caused or contributed to by experiencing the artwork.

You can provide feedback on your experience by email to [email protected].


Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are internationally renowned for their distinctive and innovative body of works comprising multimedia audio installations and site-specific walks.


The City of Forking Paths was commissioned for the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, curated by Julianna Engberg. It is the first artwork that will remain in Sydney as a permanent legacy of the biennale.

Here, an Echo is the second legacy artwork that will remain in Sydney. It was commissioned for the 20th Biennale of Sydney in 2016: The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed, curated by Stephanie Rosenthal.

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