I’m in Croatia for the launch of a project called Music For Airports. Named after the seminal Brian Eno album that considered the role of music for public space and kickstarted ambient music, the project created permanent sound art installations at Rijeka airport.
We put the call for submissions out through our Music Tech Fest mailing list and had over 100 expressions of interest, that resulted in 32 finished proposals. The judging panel selected three works – one by renowned Croatian composer, producer and keyboardist Aleksandar Valenčić; one by Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner); and a third by Coldcut, Jack James and Håkan Lidbo.
The installations provide a soundtrack to the experience of the airport and incorporate the sounds of the local environment and traditional music from the region that uses the unique Istrian scale. One responds to the movement of passengers through the corridor towards the security desk, with sensor speakers playing notes as people approach. They’re quite beautiful.
There was a press conference at the airport, and in the evening a series of presentations and performances outside the Mayor’s Palace in the city centre. I spent about 15 minutes presenting Music Tech Fest and the role that community plays in bringing together the brilliant people who can create and compose these works. The artists also presented their installations as well as the work they’d done in the past that led to the thinking behind these pieces.
We were even treated to an impromptu performance by Matt Black (Coldcut) mixing sound and visuals on his NinjaJamm app; stories of Robin Rimbaud’s childhood growing up recording his family with tape machines; Jack James’s light controlled speaker installation; and Håkan Lidbo’s series of incredible projects that bring humour and play into public spaces through interactive music.