press release

Fort Mason East Wall, Pier 2

16.02.2018 - 01.01.2019

Music is continuous; it only stops when we turn away and stop paying attention.
—John Cage

As part of the year-long opening celebrations of SFAI’s new Fort Mason Campus, internationally-renowned sound artist Bill Fontana’s 1981 work Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns is re-presented in its original location on the eastern wall of Pier 2, now San Francisco Art Institute’s Fort Mason campus. This temporally-specific installation layers and overlaps with the contemporary soundscape of the San Francisco waterfront.

The original 1981 iteration of this work was a live acoustic map of San Francisco Bay. Microphones were installed at eight different positions around the bay in order to hear the multiple acoustic delays from the foghorns on the Golden Gate Bridge. Sounds were broadcast to the facade of Pier 2 at Fort Mason Center. Listeners are able to hear various locations simultaneously, delayed by the distances the sound has to travel, translating topography into sound.

This sound installation was launched in conjunction with the exhibition Bill Fontana: Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns, a presentation of never-before-seen audiovisual artworks, which the artist refers to as “acoustical visions,” in an extension of his decades-long practice of concentrated attention and deep looking.

Bill Fontana (b. 1947, United States) is an American composer and media artist who has developed an international reputation for his pioneering experiments in sound. Since the early 70s, Fontana has used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Post Museum in Frankfurt; the Art History and Natural History Museums in Vienna; the Tate Modern and Tate Britain, London; the 48th Venice Biennale; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; MAXXI, Rome; and MAAT, Lisbon. He has done major radio sound art projects for the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France and the Austrian State Radio. He is currently working on new commissions for the Kunsthaus Graz, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Bill Fontana: Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns was curated by Katie Hood Morgan, Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs.

SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs are made possible by the generosity of donors and sponsors. This project is supported by Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and Meyer Sound. Major support is provided by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Program support is provided by the Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation, Institute of Museums and Library Services, Grants for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Work Fund, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, and Fort Point Beer Company. Ongoing support is provided by the McBean Distinguished Lecture and Residency Fund, The Buck Fund, and the Visiting Artists Fund of the SFAI Endowment.

Pier 2, Fort Mason, East Wall, SFAI—Fort Mason Campus
Sound installation active from 9am to 9pm daily