The Voice of Venice, captured by Bill Fontana

Chic Words | Bill Fontana Exhibition | Tuscan Geothermal Landscape

The day before yesterday during one of my daily walks I visited a lounge of the art of Mrs. Lagoon, which I did not know: Ca’ Foscari Esposizioni and I was really struck by the beauty of the location and the happy marriage between the place and the works presented. On the right of the courtyard of Palazzo Ca’ Giustinian dei Vescovi (headquarter of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) you can access an area that hosts prestigious exhibitions by contemporary artists and researchers.

An ethical and aesthetic reflection
on the power and poetics of renewable energy


The exhibition rooms are developed in a small open-air courtyard and several covered areas, spread over 800 square meters between the ground floor and the first floor. Connected by a monumental main stair, these spaces overlook the Grand Canal, opening unexpected views over the water. This particular creates an ideal connection with the themes of the exhibition currently housed in the building. Bill Fontana’s Primal Sonic Vision is made up of a series of multimedia installations, which strongly and aesthetically describe the primordial energy resources: wind, hydroelectric, solar and geothermal, capturing flickers, reflections, colors and sounds.
[Note 1]

Chic Words | Bill Fontana | Hydroelectric Outflow California

According to the artist’s intentions, the exhibition aims to be a reflection on the great resources that renewable energy can provide to our planet, through the creation of an emotional relationship with the visitor; which is immersed in a visual and sound architecture obtained through the fusion between digital video and architecture.
The images and sounds of the exhibition are the result of a journey undertaken by the artist, commissioned by the International Agency for Renewable Energy (ARENA), at a series of power generation plants in Italy, Austria, Portugal, California, Iceland, Portugal, United Arab Emirates and England.

The experience already begins in the small courtyard from which it is possible to begin to perceive the mysterious sounds coming from the first exhibition hall. Behind a glass door opens a space in dim light, from which emerge the images of some wind turbines projected on the ceiling, like windows on another space-time dimension. From the back of the room the outside light filters through the water door overlooking the Grand Canal. “I made these works by listening to the first visual and auditory impressions aroused by these sites. My intent was not to document them, but to capture their abstract sensory magic “- these are the words, reported in the exhibition brochure, with which Bill Fontana describes his work.

The magic of the first room is also due to the fact that the sound of the sharp blades of the wind turbines (visible through the digital projections) mixes with the voice of the emitted lagoon captured by two hydrophones, so that one gets the impression of being completely enveloped in the natural elements: wind and water.

Chic Words | Bill Fontana | Portuguese Hydroelectirc Landscape Portugal

Bill Fontanta’s exhibition, with its elegance and delicacy, represents both a way of drawing attention to the problems of environmental sustainability and the need to encourage the use of renewable energy, with particular reference to Venice. According to a calm and focused style in suggesting solutions, rather than expressing polemical judgments, a constructive and loving look is set up on the problem.

The voice of Mrs. Laguna, soft and soothing, is also taken in one of the rooms on the first floor where two multimedia works are reproduced obtained from the recordings of the swirl of the waves and the noises related to the area where the MOSE is located, the bulkhead system which allows to stem the phenomenon of high tides in the Venice Lagoon. These two installations are particularly interesting because they present a close and privileged point of view on a work long debated in the Venetian environments, which in the common imagery was always connected to a heavy, mechanical and invasive human intervention on the environment, and instead from this perspective it reveals how nature is starting to interact and coexist in a gradual and spontaneous way, giving it a more delicate dignity and a sense of affection for the surrounding ecosystem. The artist is planning to make a live work of art on MOSE in the near future and I confess that I am really looking forward to seeing it. I have not yet formulated my opinion about the MOSE project and know the thought on the topic of great contemporary artists and thinkers, I think I can open the debate to interesting perspectives and push us to better understand the function of the project and its meaning for our city.


Exhibition’s details


Titolo: Primal Sonic Vision

organized by Arthemisia
in partnership with Venice Science Gallery
with the support of: United Arabe Emirates Ministry of Climate Change & Environment, Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Fondazione Università Ca’ Foscari

Location: Ca’ Foscari Esposizioni
Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
Dorsoduro 3246

Opening hours: from May 26th to September 16th 2018
from 10.00 to 18.00 (excluding Mondays)
free entrance


[1] Bill Fontana is a contemporary American composer and multimedia artist, known for his experiments on the frontier with sound.


The images are published by kind permission of the Arthemisia Press Office and are taken from the press Kit of the exhibition.

Starting from above.
[picture 1 and preview image] Bill Fontana Tuscan Geothermal Landscape

[picture 2] Bill Fontana Hydroelectric Outflow California

[picture 3] Bill Fontana Portuguese Hydroelectirc Landscape Portugal

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