Don’t you love it when art exceeds your expectations?
We knew what we were looking for, having traveled to Zadar, Croatia just for this purpose, but still we were surprised as the lilting, moaning music emerged through the misty afternoon on the coastal promenade.
The Sea Organ is a perfect work of art. (Or is it architecture? A musical instrument?) However you label it, Nikola Bašić’s 2005 Sea Organ is flawlessly installed. The inventive organ pipes imbedded in marble stairs leading into the sea on the outermost edge of this walled city are activated by waves hitting the openings of the organ.
I bet you want to know what it sounds like, huh?
(Listen carefully and you can hear HOB hiss at me “Turn off the camera!” at the end of the video. His need to micromanage my use of electronics is one his more endearing characteristics).
As you can see in the video, we visited during a placid day, though as we lingered boats would occasionally pass by, whipping up the organ into a fortissimo frenzy. The resulting sound is a haunting and lovely composition scored by chance operation (I felt the smile of John Cage, somewhere close by off the pastel, dusky horizon).
The Sea Organ is also an urban planning and tourism win. Zadar, a dynamic city bursting with Roman, medieval and Baroque era architecture, was bombed more than 70 times during WWII. Replacing the post-war brutalist reconstruction with an art installation of extraordinary caliber is not only drawing in tourists but pleasing locals as well.
Adjacent to the Sea Organ on Zadar’s promenade, but only visible at night, is Bašić’s Greeting to the Sun. This instillation is another ingenious invention, which stores up solar energy during the day using it to produce an after-dark spectacle of randomly illuminated colored lights.
Just like the Sea Organ, Greeting to the Sun is a wonderful work of public art—needing no explanation, meditative and most of all, fun.
All you urban planners and city council suit-wearers out there (because I know you’re all reading this blog, right?); take note. This is what progressive design looks like. Great art wins for everyone.
How we got to Zadar: bus from Zagreb.
Where we slept: Apartment Bagi. Price: €40 for a double. Recommended: highly.