Bill Fontana’s Panoramic Echoes, a site-specific sound installation for Mad. Sq. Art, uses ever-present traffic noise as a background for layered sounds that will move, float, and echo above Madison Square Park.
Fontana supervised installation of Meyer Sound SB1 Sound Beam speakers in buildings around Madison Square Park. The speakers, invisible to park attendees, project directed sound waves, rising and falling in changing durations into the north end of the park. Additionally, Fontana has revived the Westminster Chimes of the MetLife Clock, one of the largest four-dial clocks in the world; its bronze bells were forged by the McNeely Bell Company in Troy, New York, and installed in 1909, when the tower also boasted the title of the world’s tallest building. Weighing a massive 7,000, 3,000, 2,000 and 1,500 pounds, the Westminster bells are tuned to B flat, E flat, F natural and G natural, respectively. Until 2001, they tolled on the quarter-hour from 8 A.M. to 10 P.M.–a cherished feature of life around the park. The MetLife Tower bells play the same tune as Big Ben: the Westminster Chimes, a melody from Handel’s Messiah. In Fontana’s composition, these veteran chimes join with contemporary sound technology to create an immersive experience that mixes the classic with the current.
About the Artist
Bill Fontana has been an innovator in sound art for over thirty years. Last summer, Fontana’s sound sculpture Harmonic Bridge in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern translated live sounds of the Millennium Bridge into an evocative art piece. Speeds of Time in 2004, also in London, was based on Big Ben’s bells.
Mad. Sq. Art is made possible by Founding Partners: Agnes Gund & Daniel Shapiro, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Jill & Peter Kraus and Anonymous. Additional support is provided by the Leucadia Foundation, the Toby Lewis Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Cleveland, and the Henry Luce Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional support is provided by Pentagram.
Thanks to the Chetrit Group, Credit Suisse, the Ian Schrager Group, the One Club, and New York Life Insurance Company. Special thanks to Ray Benemerito, Margaret Brady, Michael Berger, Sheila Davidson, Andrew Federbusch, John Hanhardt, Julia Hoffman, David Levine, Leonard Mackesy, and Michael Overington. Sound technology is managed by Scharff Weisberg. Very special thanks to the Sapir Organization.