Sound Sculptor: Bill Fontana
Bill Fontana is a sonic artist whose work focuses on the relocation of ambient sounds in public, urban spaces and the resulting recontextualization of both the sounds themselves and the sites of his installations. Several of his better-known projects include:
Distant Trains (Realvideo clip): In West Berlin in 1984, Fontana constructed the acoustic space of a living train station (the Köln Hauptbahnhof, the busiest European train station at the time) inside what had been one of the busiest stations in Europe before WWII, the Anhalter Bahnhof, but had become a bombed-out ruin. He was unable to use live sound in this installation due to technological limitations, so instead used a live recording of train station hustle and bustle made from eight microphones placed inside the Köln Hauptbahnhof, then played on loudspeakers hidden among the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof.
Sound Island (Realvideo clip): In 1994 as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Normandy and the liberation of Paris, Fontana transmitted the white noise of the sea live from the Normandy coast to loudspeakers hidden in Paris' Arc de Triomphe.
Acoustical Visions of Venice (Realvideo clip): For the Venice Biennale in 1999, Fontana created a "sound map" of the city by piping audio live from twelve sites around the city, chosen for historic and cultural significance as well as acoustic character, to the Punta della Dogana. As this spot has one of the best views of the city and its landmarks, the installation allowed visitors to hear as far as they could see, in some cases hearing even further, reversing the way they normally experience the balance between these two senses.
For more on Bill Fontana, this brief essay that places his work in the obvious shadow of the ideas of John Cage is easy to digest.