Bill Fontana

Acoustical Visions of the River Mur, 2017


Acoustical Visions of the river Mur (project title) is a new, site specific work by pioneering sound artist Bill Fontana that is developed for the Kunsthaus Graz. The work thereby becoming the second, semipermanent sound sculpture that forms part of the ´living architecture´ of the archigram indepted biomorphic exhibition hall (the first being the Sound piece by Max Neuhaus that has been running since its implementation during the opening of the building in 2003, Time Piece Graz).


The multimedia work utilizes hypersonic speakers—a visually as well as acoustically engaging technology and bring the unseen world of the turbulent river Mur into the range of perception of visitors.


In the site specific media installation the house itself – specifically its fantastic blastpipes in the courtyard - become an audio as well as a videoinstrument thereby relating to its architectural concept as a living exhibition machine. Working with detailed images as well as sounds an ongoing and everchanging musical composition is transmitted to the architectural situation.


Through the reduction of the white water noise that you naturally hear on the side of the Mur the house itself becomes the transmitter of a new perspective onto unknown dimensions of an omnipresent sculptural material.



As a Kunsthalle the Kunsthaus Graz usually does not collect but is a place of artistic production and research. Starting with Max Neuhaus in 2003 there also has been a specific interest in sound art and its influence on perception as a whole. The work has been part of the biomorphic architecture for twelve years and it feels high time to take this first venture into the still highly unaccustomed acquisition of a permanently producing work of sound art a step further into the experimental research ground of the institution dedicated to artistic production of knowledge.

For listening

Biography: Bill Fontana

Bill Fontana (*1947 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American experimental composer who is internationally recognized for his pioneering experiments in sound art, always being at the height of available technologies to broaden the sensitivity of the human hearing perception. Since the late 1960ies, Fontana’s sound sculptures use the urban environment as a living source of musical information, all with the potential to conjure up visual imagery in the mind of the listener. He has made works all over the world but has a relation to Graz and Austria in particular, where he was able to produce two of his famous Radio pieces that brought sound as a form of democratic sculpture into the wider public realm: his live sound sculpture opened up discussions about simultaneity and media reality in perception of urban landscapes and were broadcasted through the Radio "Sonic Projections from Schloßberg Graz" 1988, und "LANDSCAPE SOUNDINGS / KLANGLANDSCHFTEN", Vienna 1990 have manifested his reputation. Fontana has presented his sound sculptures extensively, including at the Venice Biennale (1999), the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (1995), The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1991), Tate Modern, London (2006), Madison Square Park, New York (2007), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1987, 1997, 2010). Some of his more famous works include Distant Trains, Satellite Ear Bridge Cologne-San Francisco, Journey Through My Sound Sculptures, The Sound of an Unblown Flute, Panoramic Echoes and "Acoustical Visions of the Golden Gate Bridge" Fontana recently won the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN Prize, 2012–2013 where is developed a sound sculpture at CERN in Geneva called "Acoustic Time Travel" which was realized in September 2014 for the 60th Anniversary of CERN.

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