I've been in Brighton long enough to remember the old Churchill Square: concrete everywhere, with dingy corners like the one where the computer shop, Softcenter, skulked by the toilets. At the center was William Mitchell's sculpture, The Spirit of Brighton. A 30 foot high piece of concrete, it looked like a strange climbing wall. According to Timothy Carder, author of the Encyclopedia of Brighton, it was "intended purely as a 'piece of fun'.. but in reality it epitomises the dreadful concrete redevelopment of Brighton in the 1960s and 70s".
The old Churchill Square was opened in 1968 and the current center opened in the late 90's. It is hard for me to overlay the old version on top of the new one – there's something overwhelming about the new building, with its strange subterranean light. The Spirit of Brighton was demolished as part of the redevelopment.
Outside the new Churchill Square are two sculptures called The Twins. It was only recently that .scribe told me that this scuplture is interactive. According to the artist Charlie Hooker's website, "Sounds emanating from it, and images etched into its granite and bronze surfaces are derived from graphs produced by weather patterns specific to its location which were produced over the full year prior to the work's installation. The gentle sounds are produced by solar-controlled electronic devices which attatch to the bronze panels, causing them to produce sound. The piece is at its loudest on bright, sunny days".
One evening recently I stopped to listen to the sculptures. Putting my ear right up to the metal panels I could hear low tones. People notice when you listen to sculpture, and I saw one kid trying the same himself. I explained about the music but he shrugged. "I swear, I can't hear nothing," he said, and put his headphones back on.