Brian Eno

Crafting Sonic Gardens for the Serpentine Pavillion

Since 2000, the Serpentine Gallery, a composite of two contemporary art galleries in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Central London, commissions a temporary summer pavilion by a leading architect, then is situated on the Gallery’s lawn for three months for the public to explore. 

For the 2021 commission, Brian Eno, musician, producer, visual artist, and activist, composed a layered, stratified construction of sonic material titled IN A GARDEN (2021) that moves through the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion from the earth beneath visitors’ feet to the space above their heads. Brian Eno talks about why he wanted to utilize the L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology for his contribution: 

“This piece started life two years ago as what I call ‘country music.’ In my use of the phrase that doesn’t involve banjos and cowboys, but is intended to be a music that is an evocation of being in a landscape, in a place. The Serpentine Gallery really is [that] place, and it’s in the middle of a park. I wanted to think of the music that I installed in the new pavilion as a sort of sonic garden – a concentrated park within the real park. A garden is a place in which all sorts of things are brought together, and interest is created by spacing and contrast and the unexpected unfolding of the planting as it develops. 

This piece is what I call a generative piece: it’s a set of procedural rules allowed to work themselves out. Usually, I do this in such a way that the piece changes all the time. In this instance, however, because I wanted to take advantage of the L-Acoustics L-ISA spatialization technology, the piece is essentially a long recording, looped. So if you come at midday two days in a row, you’ll hear almost the same music. Not exactly the same because there are some random elements within the spatialization itself. If it were a garden, it would be as though some of the plants had moved a bit during the night…”