Cologne-San Francisco Soundbridge

1987, 59:58 min.
Bill Fontana

Exploring ideas about the musicality and physical qualities of sound itself, listening as an act of composition, place, distance, and history, sound artist Bill Fontana’s sound sculptures have been broadcast and installed in cities throughout the world over the last 50 years. In 1987, Fontana created what he calls a sound bridge between the far-flung cities of San Francisco and Köln (Cologne), connecting, mixing, and then broadcasting their soundscapes. 18 microphones were placed in locations throughout each city, and the sounds they picked up were then brought together via satellite. From a radio studio at Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (WDR, West German Radio, Cologne), Fontana live mixed a collage of the sounds, including sea lions and the fog horns of the Golden Gate from the San Francisco Bay and the cathedral bells and river boats in Cologne. The hour-long mix was broadcast live from over 50 radio stations internationally, including American Public Radio in the US, who partnered with WDR in the production, as well as museums in Cologne and San Francisco.  - Described by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2020/2021, Jess Speer.

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