Public Art

Surface Reflections by Bill Fontana



About the Artwork

Surface Reflections is a hybrid sound sculpture and video installation that integrates several elements unique to downtown Lexington. 

The artwork brings the hidden and live sounds of the Town Branch to the surface of downtown Lexington.  The site is the landscaped passageway between the Financial Center Tower and its adjacent parking garage.  This passageway is also across the street from the historic Old Courthouse and Cheapside Park, which is a central gathering point in Lexington.  The moving water sounds of the Town Branch are played from loudspeakers on the façade of the parking garage pointed towards the Financial Center and across the Old Courthouse.  Sounds reflecting off of the glass façade have a spatially interactive sonic presence as visitors approach this site from different angles.  In the passageway itself, the sound has a sensuous and tranquil presence.

The Old Courthouse has the most historic chime in Lexington, which tolls every hour.  Marking the passage of time with sound is suggestive of a flow analogous to a river or stream.  A live microphone placed in the clock room wirelessly transmits to the sound sculpture on the parking garage across the street.  The bell’s sounds pass through a digital matrix of cascading delays that expand the sound and flow out of the eight-channel loudspeaker system with the same compositional structure as the sounds from Town Branch.

The video installation (temporary) explores the reflected image of the Old Courthouse on the glass façade of the Financial Center.  The grid of square glass panels on the façade are each slightly out of alignment with each other, causing the reflected image to appear deformed, as if it were reflected in water.  A surveillance camera installed on the parking garage and mounted on a pan-tilt head projects a live image onto exterior-facing windows on the Financial Center Tower, facing the parking structure. 

This LexArts Public Art Project is made possible by an EcoART Grant, Department of Environmental Quality & Public Works.  Additional support provided by Meyer Sound, Berkeley, CA.

The project benefited from the cooperation and assistance of the Webb Companies, QX.net, the University of Kentucky's Center for Visualization and Virutal Environments, the Lexington History Museum, Fayette Window Cleaning and Lexington Audio VIsual Advantage (LAVA).

About the Artist

Bill Fontana (b. 1947) is an American composer and artist who uses sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces.  He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. Exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Ludwig (Cologne), the Post Museum (Frankfurt), the Art History and Natural History Museums (Vienna), both Tate Modern and Tate Britain (London), the 48th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), the Art Gallery of NSE (Sydney) and the new Kolumba Museum (Cologne).  He has done major radio sound art projects for the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France and the Austrian State Radio.