Sonic Shadows, sound artist Bill Fontana's latest work, brings the innermost component of MoMa in San Francisco, the boiler room, out into the exhibition hall. Fontana has created sonic sculptures all over the world, in places such as Big Ben in London and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In Sonic Shadows, Fontana inverts the way we think about a more traditional venue: the museum showroom.
In this interview, Fontana explains how he discovered the boiler room, a fundamental component of the museum’s functionality, and its most hidden one. The boiler room is an ideal vehicle for Fontana both as a traditionally unseen element and as a vibrant playground of sound: Fontana’s accelerometers capture the kinetic movement and changing nature of the water and heat pipes, and his sensors pick up the structures’ variety of sounds. Through Fontana’s manipulation and programming, the boiler’s function is turned into an acoustic experience—a veritable symphony of sorts.