Brian Eno, the father of ambient music, has teamed up with Italian contemporary artist Mimmo Paladino for a new site-specific exhibition at Rome's Ara Pacis Museum.
A huge black steel ring now frames the Emperor Augustus's Altar of Peace on the first floor of the museum, while on the ground floor Paladino has created a universe of shadowed sculptures of human forms, rifle butts, little birds and shoes.
Eno's 'visual music' accompanies the exhibition, entering the museum spaces through portable radios and grills of loudspeakers.
''The aim was to create a piece of music that animates Paladino's sculpture, freeing something deeply buried inside it and evoking an aura of infinite continuity and coherence,'' said curator James Putnam.
''What interests me is that music can be figurative, pictorial like a landscape,'' added Eno, who began his career with Roxy Music and has worked as a producer with U2, Depeche Mode and Coldplay. In the section of the show directly below Augustus's altar, Eno has created a musical ambience without words, melodies or rhythm that permanently changes.
''One of the most intriguing and fascinating aspects is not knowing what it will be, but at the same time knowing it will be different every time you listen,'' Putnam said.
Eno and Paladino worked together on a similar project in 1999 at the Round House in London called The Sleepers, where Eno supplied layers of sound via multiple CD players to Paladino's sculptures of human forms curled on the floor in the centre of the space and crocodiles stalking the corridors.
''They can both pick out a relationship between visual art and the art of sound,'' Putnam said, explaining why the duo enjoy collaborating. ''Eno has compared his music to sculpture, something tangible in space, and Paladino believes that the creation of music from the harmony of tones is comparable to the creation of visual art from the harmony of forms''. The show, which runs until May 11, is the first site-specific installation at the Ara Pacis Museum, which was designed by US architect Richard Meier and unveiled amid fiece polemics in 2006.
The sleek stone-and-glass complex - central Rome's first piece of modern architecture since Fascist days - split professional architecture critics, with some hailing it as a welcome piece of understated modernism in a florid Baroque city, and others as wholly out of step with its surroundings.
While I think Brian Eno's stuff is great, I don't quite understand what is going on with this ...