American sound artist Bill Fontana has teamed up with Meyer Sound in the creation of ‘Sonic Mappings’, a permanent sound art installation for Rome’s MAXXI Museum. Fontana’s musical landscape pays tribute to Rome’s Acqua Vergine, the ancient waterway at the heart of Roman civilisation. Sonic Mappings is the centrepiece of Open Museum Open City, the museum’s latest exhibition dedicated to sound; MAXXI artistic director Hou Hanru has described it as “the most radical and experimental aspect of contemporary art.”
Undertaking an ambitious artistic journey, 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. To capture the full sonic range and acoustics he used microphones, hydrophones and accelerometers placed in the water flow and embedded into walls. It was from these source recordings Fontana’s composition was created, complementing the architecture by Zaha Hadid.
“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,” said 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. This is why the partnership with Meyer Sound is so critical for the Sonic Mappings experience.”
Fontana worked with Scott George of Autograph Sound using Meyer Sound’s SpaceMap multichannel surround panning and D-Mitri digital audio platform. They also used MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers for reinforcement to ensure clarity.