As Alain De Botton suggests in his book ‘The Art Of Travel’, the act of transit between social, cultural and geographic circumstance is far more than mere bodily movement. Language, architecture, food, gesture, landscape and sound all play a part in travel and ultimately contribute to the sensations of excitement, exoticism, disorientation and even fear that occupy the daily life of the traveller.
At points of departure and arrival on these journeys increasingly lies an airport. Like business hotels across the globe, the airport acts as a uniform presence – rotating gates, the clunk of baggage, the vague chatter of tourist and traveller alike and the occasional interruption of muffled announcements. Vast halls echoing with the shifting of bodies intent on exodus and return.
As Socrates wrote, ‘Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives [sic]’. Indeed, as the choreography of pre-flight checks is conducted following the gentle rock of the plane leaving the air bridge to a soundtrack of gentle pressurised drone and air conditioned hiss, a meditation commences. This moment of consideration is heightened, as the reflected sound of the engines scorching the tarmac surface is vacuumed into the void of open air and as the plane leaves the earth there is (in every traveller no matter how still experienced) a sense of silent awe at the marvels of the physics of flight.
Airport Symphony, commissioned by the Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane Airport Corporation, documents and synthesises the experiences of travel.
Each piece represents a personal meditation on aspects of travel in the modern age and suggests ways in which we control, augment and ultimately exists in a time where almost no part of the face of the planet is inaccessible. Each of the pieces features a source recording made in and around Brisbane Airport between March and June 2007 –in a raw form or transformed by processing.
Audio diary entries cataloguing the epic possibilities of flight, aero-passage and human bodies in motion and even at rest. Lawrence English, June 2007
All field recordings by Lawrence English