Bill Fontana

Acoustic Simultaneity and the Sculpture of Sound

Date 10/1/07

Affiliation Artist, San Francisco


Bill Fontana has worked for the past 30 years creating installations that use sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural settings. His sound sculptures use the human and/or natural environment as a living source of musical information. He views music, in the sense of coherent sound patterns, as a process that is going on constantly. His methodology has been to create networks of simultaneous listening points that relay real time acoustic data to a common listening zone (sculpture site). Since 1976, he has called these works sound sculptures. Fontana has produced a large number of works that explore the idea of creating live listening networks. These use a hybrid mix of transmission technologies that connect multiple sound retrieval points to a central reception point. What is significant in this process are the conceptual links determining the relationships between the selected listening points and the site-specific qualities of the reception point (sculpture site). Some conceptual strategies have been acoustic memory, the total transformation of the visible (retinal) by the invisible (sound), hearing as far as one can see, the relationship of the speed of sound to the speed of light, and the deconstruction of our perception of time. This talk will explore the simultaneity of sound as an environmental phenomena, documentated with a series of sound sculpture projects from 1976 to the present.


Bill Fontana is internationally known for his experimental work in sound as a sculptural medium. He studied philosophy and music at the New School for Social Research in New York and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has worked since the late 60's in developing his unique art form, and has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Berliner K|nstler Programm of the DAAD, and the Arts Council of England. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Post Museum in Frankfurt, the Art History and

Natural History Museums in Vienna, the Tate Modern London, the 48th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the National Museum Modern Art Kyoto and the new Kolumba Museum in Cologne. His has done major radio sound art projects for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR, KQED, the BBC, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France and the Austrian State Radio. Born in 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in San Francisco CA.

-- As of 10/1/07