In London, a Big Bouquet of Horns Brings People Together Through Sound
The façades of London’s historic buildings are often covered in decorative motifs. Among the most abundant is the cornucopia, a curving goat’s horn filled with flowers and fruit that symbolizes prosperity. Its Latin name, cornu copiae (“horn of plenty”), serves as a fitting emblem for “Sonic Bloom,” an outdoor installation by Japanese artist Yuri Suzuki that opened last week in Mayfair’s Brown Hart Gardens, near the popular Oxford Street shopping district.
Organized by London-based curatorial agency Alter-Projects, the work consists of a cluster of flared, primary-colored tubes that rise from a central base, extending outward in various directions like a squiggly, otherworldly bouquet. The horns aren’t just for looking at: They’re for socially distant listening, and work by amplifying and transporting the sounds of the city, nature, and people at street level through their stems and into a user’s ears.
To further extend its interactivity, “Sonic Bloom” will introduce a digital component during the London Design Festival, which runs from September 18–26. Through a forthcoming website, voice recordings can be transformed into a flower animation that will be randomly planted on an online map of Mayfair for others to hear.
This isn’t the first time Suzuki has cleverly fused art and sound. A partner in the London office of the design firm Pentagram, he’s created multiple audible experiences and products—including OTOTO, a tiny synthesizer that transforms almost any object into an instrument, and “Sound of the Earth: Chapter 2” (2019), a large black sphere commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art that, when a visitor places their ear on it, emits a range of crowdsourced noises from around the world.
More than a year into the pandemic, and into stifled communication with others, Suzuki’s latest work is a welcome invitation to consider how we engage with others and with our surroundings. “[‘Sonic Bloom’] aims to encourage connections with friends and strangers, creating serendipitous audible moments that create a sense of community, shared creative ground, and sociability,” Suzuki said in a statement. “Its temporary connections create an incentive to form a closer, more intimate human connection where friendship could flourish.”