Bill Fontana: River Sounding
A journey through the hidden sound worlds of the River Thames at Somerset House
Over several months, Fontana collected hundreds of hours of audio and video from above and below the surface of the Thames, from Richmond to remote locations in the Estuary, to reveal the hidden stories and sound-worlds of the river in a brand new public art work.
Images and sounds installed in the Lightwells and Dead House – spaces far below the courtyard, usually closed to the public – create an intimate, acoustic journey and reinstate the forgotten shared history of Somerset House and the Thames.
So much of Fontana’s work reminds me of why i was so drawn to audio and sound recording in my own work. The connection, and immersive experance, that can be made through sound was unlike anything I had experance before. I discovered it during a video production class in college, working around discussions of none narrative structures. While building videos I was drawn to what sound could do that I otherwise had such a hard time achieving in video. The ability to create and explore a sense of place, emotion and memory were paramount for me.
Bill’s work and the resulting installations remind me of the process of documenting listening experiences. I particularly like how he describes treating sound like a found object, and place it into situations that can change it’s meaning or experance.