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Bill Fontana on His SFMOMA “Sonic Shadows”

Bridge Work: Bill Fontana on the site of his Sonic Shadows

The January 2011 edition of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “artcast” (née podcast) includes a sequence on Bill Fontana, the sound artist. At the 10:40 point, he talks about “Sonic Shadows,” his installation that is currently running at the museum. The work involves reactive triggers on the SFMOMA’s famed bridge, which runs atop its vertiginous atrium. However, the sounds that one hears are not entirely from the visible portion of the site. Instead, they are drawn from various places, many of them beyond the public’s mental image of the museum, such as deep in its boiler room. Fontana explains that “all the sounds you are hearing are actually happening,” though he allows there is a bit of “alchemy involved” (MP3).

[audio:http://www.sfmoma.org/media/audio/podcasts/2011/January/aud_artcast_012111.mp3|titles=”Discussing Sonic Shadows (January 2011)”|artists=Bill Fontana]

There’s also an M4A version of the artcast that includes embedded images related to the various segments.

More on Fontana’s bridge-work at sfmoma.org (from which the above photo, by Don Ross, is borrowed). “Sonic Shadows” is scheduled to run from November 20, 2010, through October 16, 2011. If you’re in San Francisco this Thursday, February 3, there’s a lecture scheduled on the Fontana work at 6:30pm: sfmoma.org.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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