Artist Composer Christopher Janney looks up at his multistory installation "Rainbow Cove Green" at Logan airport. (Barry Chin, Globe Staff Photo)
Karen Finkelman tilted her head to one side to listen to the relaxing sounds of crickets chirping, frogs croaking, and a fog horn blowing in the distance.
She could have been in the woods of New Hampshire or on the shore of Cape Cod.
In fact, there wasn't a forest, ocean or lily pad in sight.
"It's a nice sound to hear in a stressful airport when you are very stressed out," Finkelman, a 34-year-old mother of three, said after arriving at Boston's Logan International Airport from Orlando, Fla. "It is just a nice, nature's sound."
That was indeed the intent behind the artwork of Christopher Janney, an architect and avid jazz musician who created the piece that includes colored glass walls on two parking garages and natural sounds from different parts of New England. The exhibit, covering eight stories, is touted as one of the nation's largest public art installations.
The two-piece "Rainbow Cove" installation cost about $300,000 and is part of a $205 million Central Garage expansion project. It will be formally introduced April 24.
Massport selected the light-and-sound artwork from proposals submitted by about 50 artists. Officials worked closely with Janney on key aspects of the work, including ensuring that it corresponds with color codes of the two terminals in which it is installed, Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Richard Walsh said.
"The airport can be a tough place -- a lot of people, flights can be delayed, flights can be canceled -- it can be a pretty aggravating place," said Janney, a prolific public space artist. "My interest is try to create an interesting, stimulating, alternative experience."
The creation also seeks to soften the concrete-and-steel feel of the airport and make the place more enjoyable to passengers and others, said Janney, an architect trained at Princeton and MIT.
The project is part of Artport, which seeks to incorporate quality visual art into Massport properties.
"As the sounds go, I really wanted to make sound images. We hear all these crickets now, it is like an evening through the woods in New Hampshire," Janney said as travelers walked past a glass wall ranging in color from blue-green to yellow-green.
Janney said designing and writing the software that controls sounds in the interactive piece was the hardest part of creating the project, whose interactive concept extends to elevators.
A melodic sound rings out when a passenger presses a button to summon an elevator. Sounds from the natural environment are piped inside the car as it travels or when the doors open and close.
"There are 38 speakers in here, there is a different sound coming out of each speaker," said Janney, 57, a visiting professor at New York's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. "That's why you get this sort of mix, you don't hear the sound really flat."
His creative use of sound, light and interactive technology has produced remarkable pieces on display in public and private space in Europe and America.
One of his best known creations, "Reach: New York," is in that city's 34th Street and Herald Square N/R subway platform. The piece consists of horizontal columns of green aluminum tubing hanging along each platform with sensors along the length.
Commuters waving a hand in front of a sensor interrupts a beam of light and activates the piece, producing the sound of flutes, marimbas and environmental noises from Florida's Everglades and Brazilian forests -- on the opposite platform.
Lynne McCormack, who was at Logan airport to meet a friend flying in from Florida, said the sound of birds, crickets and birds brings images of the romantic moments she has shared with her boyfriend on the wooded shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire.
"When we get up in the morning we go out to watch the birds," said McCormack, a house painter from Peabody. "It's pretty calming. I like it.
"It just reminds you of walking through the woods," McCormack said. "Yeah, skip-and-jump, you know."
Massport Aviation Director Edward C. Freni is happy with the installation.
"If you spent anytime at the Janney exhibit, I think you will agree he reveals the hidden music in the architecture and it's really the sounds of New England," Freni said. "It's a beautiful exhibit." (AP)