Observations: The strange black box that will be below Lord Nelson


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The Independent Culture

Later this month you might come across an alien-looking black structure in the middle of London's Trafalgar Square. Inside you'll find a haven from the bustling environment inside the BE OPEN Sound Portal, a new sound installation that has been built as part of the 10th anniversary of the London Design Festival, and that focuses on design that you can hear.

Five sound and music pioneers have been picked, including the UK's own experimental electronic artist Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson), and invited to make use of the 3D surround-sound speakers. Its aim is to explore the boundaries of what can be achieved with sound technology, but for anyone concerned that it will be a wild experiment, while the project offers innovative acoustics, it's not to the detriment of creating good music.

Jenkinson, who has been combining techno, drum'*'bass, acid house, electro-acoustic and jazz influences within his frenetic breakbeats since the 1990s, had only ever worked with stereo sound for his recorded work. For this new challenge he was adamant about creating a “piece of music that would stand up in its own right”.

“It's not in a university or laboratory, it's in a place that epitomises London”, he explained. “I've tried to use a very familiar sort of sound – classical guitar – and do something unfamiliar with the way the music is reproduced.”

BE OPEN Sound Portal, Trafalgar Square, London WC2 (londondesignfestival.com) 19 to 23 September