Bill Fontana: Objective Sound

May 25 – August 4, 2007

San Francisco sound artist Bill Fontana’s installation filled Western Bridge with the sounds of the surrounding Duwamish Industrial District’s activity. The clatter, hum, and wail of sirens, airplanes, helicopters, trains, heavy trucks, buses, and heavy machinery were brought inside the building by microphones and played inside a sealed room full of industrial steel and glass objects found in the district. These objects transformed the raw sound as a guitar body transforms the vibration of a string, or a flute the breath of its player. The transformed sounds were then piped into all the public spaces of Western Bridge.

This piece represented a return to origins for Bill Fontana, relating to his works of the early 1970s using resonant objects as listening devices. By bringing inside Western Bridge the noises the building was designed to keep out, Fontana linked our activities to those of the district’s industries and services. The live sound will be used to generate recordings, preserving a record of the current state of the district during its contested transformation from a center of heavy industry to a mixed, light industrial, entertainment, and business district.

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