Acoustical Visions

explorations of the image that a sound makes and the sound that an image makes


"it has become clear that Bill Fontana is not concerned with an image and its corresponding or not-corresponding soundtrack. In fact, as much as his practice has tested time and again the relationship to the "iconic," his interest is rather how event patterns intersect in a complex interaction between foreground and background. All viewers are trained in discerning these parameters of the visual field. But with Fontana, it is an audiovisual field recording, enhanced and abstracted in real time or in post-production. We know that the cables set in motion horizontally or vertically as in Studies for Acoustical Visions of the Eiffel Tower (2012) correspond to one of the most iconic places of the Western hemisphere. We have seen this too many times, whether in real life or on postcards. What needs to be shown is the way that these icons are based on the vibrancy of the microscopic vie won matter, granularity, or detail set in motion and related to the macroscopic totality, whether it is a mechanical construction or a natural configuration as in Desert Soundings (2014), where the grain of sand alone evoques the image of the shifting dune. This charged relationship between concreteness and abstraction is nowhere more visible than iin his most recent work for Linz, Linear Visions (2014), where the dramatically concrete is temporarily disolved in a composition of pure colors of moving matter. The camera and the microphone allow a close-up and attention to the material events which would be impossible to achieve with the human eye and ear simply because of the exposure to the heat and noise of steel manufacturing: it is the recording media that allow a new experience. This is the sound that makes the image AND it is the image that makes the sound. Sound and visuals support each other, no leading or supporting role can be identified in this interaction. Fontana's audiovisual art is, I would conclude, not a surrealist art of collage but a materialist art of abstraction. It is the grain of sand that evokes the desert, it is the pattern of sand shifting that evokes a place as the very foundation of the works on view in this exhibition"

- Rudolf Frieling, Media Arts Curator, SFMOMA




Linear Visions -This Acoustic Vision gazes at sheets of molten steel rolling repetitively through the Voestalpine Steel Factory in Linz. The view changes from the glistening roller to hot clouds of steam and then the intense flowing of the red and yellow hot sparkling steel sheets. The sounds are from accelerometers mounted on the four rollers. At the OK Center for Contemporary Art in Linz this is a live real time audio/video installation until 19/10/14.


Acoustical Visions of the Acqua Vergine in Rome - The historic underground tunnel below the Villa Medici and the Spanish Steps where the Acqua Vergine has been perpetually flowing for over 2000 years.


Acoustical Visions of the Golden Gate Bridge was a live audio/video installation created for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2012.


Desert Soundings explored the hidden sounds of the sand dunes outside of Abu Dhabi for the the Abu Dhabi Festival in 2014.


Harmonic Bridge brought live sounds from a network of accelerometers (vibration sensors) installed on the Millennium Bridge to a louspaeker system the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern (2006) to create a sound sculpture. This Acoustic Vision is one of many studies I made of the cables on the Millennium Bridge on which the sensors were placed.


"Site Specific Elsewhere -Evocative Places on View " by Rudolf Frieling




Architectural Sound Sculptures

Sonic Mappings Rome