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Bill Fontana, Artist, San Francisco

Acoustic Simultaneity and the Sculpture of Sound




October 1, 2007; 63 Minutes; Video

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 explores the simultaneity of sound as an environmental phenomena, documented with a series of sound sculpture projects from 1976 to the present.