Rome, Italy (November 13, 2014)—American sound artist Bill Fontana has partnered with Meyer Sound in the creation of the immersive sound exhibit, Sonic Mappings, a permanent exhibit at for Rome’s MAXXI Museum.
This musical landscape pays tribute to Rome’s Acqua Vergine, the ancient waterway of Roman civilization. Sonic Mappings is the centerpiece of Open Museum Open City, the museum’s latest exhibition dedicated to sound, which MAXXI Artistic. Director Hou Hanru describes it as “the most radical and experimental aspect of contemporary art.”
Fontana travelled the path of the Acqua Vergine from the source springs at Salone to the ancient tunnels still in existence under the streets of Rome. By using microphones, hydrophones and accelerometers—some placed in the water flow and some embedded into walls—Fontana captured the diversity and full range of sonic impact and acoustic resonance. From these source recordings, Fontana created a musical composition suffused with the acoustic, harmonic and rhythmical qualities of the water.
“Sonic Mappings connects listeners to what I think of as the acoustic soul of Rome—the sound of water ebbing and flowing through the city’s ancient aqueducts,” says Fontana. “After decades of creating sound sculptures, I have learned that creating a sense of immersion in a multi-dimensional soundscape can only be achieved using the most accurate audio technology. Without it, the listener’s illusion will break down.”
A long-time user of Meyer Sound technology, Fontana worked with Scott George of Autograph Sound to create the soundscape using Meyer Sound’s SpaceMap multichannel surround panning, which gives the designer a tool to fly sounds through space, and the D-Mitri digital audio platform, which provides the signal processing and distribution for the sonic immersion. For reinforcement, Fontana specified MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers.