[Apr 24] IMAGINARY ACOUSTIC VISIONS  a talk by Bill Fontana

This talk by Bill Fontana will present a series of immersive sound sculptures created from recordings of Notre Dame’s silently resonating bells, a 3000 year old Giant Sequoia tree “listening” to the rhythmic vibrations of nearby river, a melting glacier in the Austrian Alps, the underwater sounds of the Venice Lagoon,  an ancient Danube Wetland and a Total Eclipse of the Sun in an Old Growth rainforest in Australia. He will also present a series of experimental videos that explore the visualization of soundings and resonance.

Date / Time: Wednesday April 24, 2024 at 6 pm

LOCATION: NYU Paulson Building 181 Mercer Street  Room 620

NYU RSVP required

Also by Bill Fontana: ACOUSTIC PHENOMENOLOGY An Intensive Seminar on Listening

Date/time: Saturday April 20, 2024 from noon – 5 pm

LOCATION: The Lower Manhattan Arts Center on Governors Island


In a career spanning 50 years, Bill Fontana (b. 1947, Cleveland, USA) is internationally known for his pioneering experiments in sound. He has consistently used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. Applying his knowledge of composition, he draws out patterns of sound from the natural and man-made worlds to create sound works with the potential to conjure up visual imagery in the mind of the listener.

Many of these works create live listening networks that collect information from sources as diverse as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the Millennium Bridge in London, the beaches of Normandy, fog horns in San Francisco, old-growth forests, hydroelectric turbines, and urban environments. From the late nineties until the present, Fontana’s projects have explored hybrid listening technologies using acoustic microphones, underwater sensors (hydrophones) and structural/material sensors (accelerometers). His more recent works are explorations of the relationship between image and sound, expressed through the combined mediums of audio and video. He has realized sound sculptures, public art commissions and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world.

His most recent large scale project was Silent Echoes Notre Dame, a live sound sculpture which revealed that Notre Dame’s 10 bells, silenced by the tragic fire of 2019, are secretly ringing all the time. This was commissioned and exhibited by the Centre Pompidou and IRCAM in Paris 2022 as well as Ars Electronica and the Istanbul Biennale. A new version will be presented this year at the Centre Pompidou’s West Bund Museum in Shanghai. This coming September, a new global version called Silent Echoes: Dachstein will be an environmental sound bridge between Notre Dame’s silent and ringing bells and the rapidly melting Dachstein Glacier.  This live sound sculpture will be simultaneously exhibited by Ars Electronica to a global network of museums and exhibition sites as an artistic statement on Climate Change.




ARTE Feature on Silent EchoesPBS Feature

Artist Statement

A Workshop in Venice during the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale:


An exhibition about renewable energy and climate change issues called PRIMAL SONIC VISIONS

In 2020, this work was based on recordings of 3000 year old giant sequoia trees “listening” to the rhythmic vibrations of a river in Sequoia National Park that was exhibited  in the Atrium of the Gropius Bau in Berlin, which I would like to realize as a live sound sculpture someday:


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