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London Design Biennale: Making the invisible shine

Interview with Dr Teppei Katori, academic partner of Particle Shrine, on exhibiting at the London Design Biennale.

King’s features in Eureka, an exhibition of design-led research taking place across UK universities, as part of the 2023 London Design Biennale from 1 – 25 June. The King’s showcase 'Seeking Connection' features Natural, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences research projects, taking the viewer on a journey from the smallest cell to the vastness of the universe.

We met for a Q&A with the minds behind the research to find out more on the projects, what it’s like to cross the bridge between research and design, and how their research paints a brighter tomorrow for the way we form connections with ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

We chatted to Dr Teppei Katori, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and academic partner behind Particle Shrine, an audio-visual experience that renders the cosmic rays that bombard the planet visible. Here, he explains what Particle Shrine hopes to achieve and what’s next for this cosmological spectacular.

Dr Teppei Katori

What is the impetus behind Particle Shrine and what do you hope to achieve by its creation?

Particle Shrine is an immersive experience where cosmic rays pop and ping within the chamber overhead and in front of you. These cosmic rays are actually everywhere all the time, but in the everyday we don't see these mysterious subatomic particles or realise they’re flying overhead.

Particle Shrine is about allowing people to feel that invisible force, through the sound and visuals that these cosmic rays inspire when they interact with the four cosmic ray detectors in the Super-Kamiokande observatory in Japan.

In this interaction with the invisible, I hope people find a connection between themselves and the mysteries of the universe. 

How have you found being part of the team bringing Particle Shrine to life, and how do you feel about exhibiting it at the London Design Biennale?

It’s an honour to be able to present our work with our university and faculty, sharing the spotlight with so many wonderful exhibitions birthed from the collaboration between researchers and artists. The work produced by my colleagues at the ‘Seeking Connection’ pavilion really is fantastic and I’m excited to see how the general public will react to them, as well as ours.

The London Design Biennale includes a variety of projects exploring all kind of connections, and I am also very interested in exploring beyond King’s work and seeing the rest of the exhibitions there.  

Particle Shrine 3

'Seeking Connection' is all about the power of interdisciplinary work, pulling together research from across the university and beyond. What has an interdisciplinary approach brought to Particle Shrine?

Particle Shrine sits in the middle of particle physics, art, music, and all the technology that underpins those practices.

Particle physicists, like me, collect data from cosmic rays using cosmic ray detectors, like the Super-Kamiokande in Japan. But in the case of Particle Shrine, instead of just recording data, this data is used to produce a sound and light show.

One of my collaborators Chris Ball invented a device that converted the live data from these cosmic rays into MIDI signals, which allowed for another collaborator, Eden Morrison, to arrange light in the room. Chris also developed a device to map the cosmic ray data to sound, allowing composer and art director Christo Squier to base musical compositions and light shows around the data.

Thus together, they all produced the experience of Particle Shrine – through interdisciplinary collaboration.

Particle Shrine 2

What's next for Particle Shrine?

Particle Shrine will be going on the road to the Hidden Notes Festival in Stroud in September 2023, where we’ll be at home amongst the avant-garde and new kinds of art and music.

On top of that, we are also looking into opportunities for outreach, possibly talking to local schools in Stroud about cosmic rays and physics, as well as Particle Shrine. Explaining science is always a part of our show, and we are hoping to inspire the next generation of students, as well as their parents.


If you could say one thing to visitors coming to see Particle Shrine at the Biennale, what would it be? 

Feel the power of cosmic rays! 

Particle Shrine will be on display at ‘Seeking Connection’ at the London Design Biennale, Somerset House from 1-25 June. For more information and tickets, visit the London Design Biennale website

In this story

Teppei Katori

Teppei Katori


Seeking Connection

Research from across King’s features in Eureka, the exhibition of design-led research taking place across UK universities, as part of the 2023 London Design Biennale. On display from 1 – 25…

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