ISTANBUL: The art of sound, music and visual effects all come together in one experience with the help of technology in American artist Bill Fontana’s ‘Resounding Io’ at Arter. The fascinating and unique multichannel sound-video installation offers a glimpse of the future
Are you ready for an inimitable experience by American artist Bill Fontana? Istanbul’s prominent Arter gallery is hosting Fontana’s first solo exhibition in Turkey, “Resounding Io.” Curated by Melih Fereli, the exhibition is the fifth edition of Arter’s “Sound Art Projects” series.
“Resounding Io” marks the world premiere of the eponymous work commissioned by Arter that consists of a multichannel sound and video installation. The piece is also a unique addition to Fontana’s series “Acoustical Visions,” which the artist describes as “explorations of the image that a sound makes and the sound that an image makes.”
Cleveland-born Fontana started his career as a composer and then gained international fame for his pioneering experiments in sound as an artist. What he does can be described as directing our attention to the music surrounding us in our daily lives by revealing its delicacies.
Fontana has been using sound as a sculptural medium since the early 1970s and changing our perception of visual and architectural settings in this way. Known for his interest in unearthing hidden sounds in unlikely places, the artist has exhibited his projects oriented in sound in many prestigious museums around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern.
His latest work in Arter is based on his research surveys in Istanbul. As part of these surveys, the artist made video and sound recordings in the city, especially underwater along the Bosporus and in two Byzantine cisterns, namely the Theodosius Cistern and the Basilica Cistern. Fontana was able to collect video and sound data at numerous places in Istanbul with his portable recording studio featuring an eight-channel digital recorder, acoustic microphones, hydrophones and accelerometers.
Following the data collecting process, the artist relocated these recordings by playing them via loudspeakers in the Basilica Cistern at night, which generated an incredible echo from the huge void and vaults of the structure. Recording this reverberation as the final composition, Fontana named this work in reference to the mythological story of Io, who gave her name to the Bosporus. Legend has it that Io was the first priestess of Hera, the wife of Zeus. In Greek mythology, Zeus falls in love with mortal Io. However, he has to transform her into a white heifer to protect her from the wrath of Hera. Discovering the situation, Hera then sends a gadfly to torment Io, who therefore wandered all over the earth. She crosses the Ionian Sea trying to flee from the gadfly and swims the strait thereafter known as the Bosporus, literally meaning ox ford.
Benefiting from the advanced technical features of Arter’s performance space Karbon, “Resounding Io” invites visitors to dive into an immersive experience in a sensual and dynamic world. Fontana’s audio-visual compositions will surely transform their perception of time and space thanks to a combination of recordings from the Bosporus and the Theodosius Cistern.
After entering the space, visitors are directed to a very large wall screen featuring the ambisonic recordings the artist made in the Theodosius Cistern, with sound being reproduced by way of a matrix of eight speakers near the wall. Additional screens are also positioned at such an angle that the imagery and the variety of sounds within the space imitate an “exploded cube,” which is perfectly adapted to the architecture and acoustics of Karbon. These other screens reflect the artist’s ambition to mix sources from different locations by connecting them through water, an endlessly fascinating material to explore for both sound and image.
During my visit to “Resounding Io,” I felt like I was entering an unknown world into the Bosporus. Have you ever thought or dreamed of stepping into a world of sound data? The experience that this exhibition offers to visitors is literally a chance to step inside such a sonic world. I have surrendered to the escalating sounds while calm currents erupted into the flow of data points scrolled across the walls.
The exhibition welcomes visitors thanks to the funding provided by Grundig for the exhibition production and the acquisition of the work for the Arter Collection. The exhibition at Arter in Istanbul is taking place until Dec. 4.
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