Pigeon Soundings by Bill Fontana


…..”when I first visited this site in 1994 it gave me the feeling that all the pigeons in Cologne lived there”….

The idea for this sound sculpture began in 1994, when St. Kolumba in Cologne was a Gothic ruin inhabited by a large number of pigeons.  Deep within the bowels of this place, 2000 years of Cologne’s history lay partly visible in the form of old walls, columns and crypts possessing a strong sense of timelessness. This extraordinary site was framed by the partially destroyed exterior walls of the old church. and a temporary wooden roof in whose rafters the pigeons lived.

In 1994, I made a series of 8 channel sound map recordings of these pigeons, recording the sounds from 8 spatial points simultaneously. The ruin was acoustically transparent, as the ambient sounds of Cologne would seep through the old walls, mixing with the coos and flapping of flying wings.

Today, this becomes a new museum called Kolumba (designed by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor) which encapsulates the old Gothic ruin with a 12 meter high space of porus walls, above which the floors of the new museum sit. 

The sonic memory of these thousands of pigeons will return to the space, invisibly inhabiting it.