Floating Echoes

by Bill Fontana


(MOSE STUDY 1 at the Chioggia Inlet in which this gate structure is slowly lowered into the lagoon)



I intend to transform MOSE, Venice’s flood barrier system, into a living work of media art by exploring and showcasing the system’s auditory and visual properties through sound and video installation. . The project will be realized in conjunction with the exhibition PRIMAL SONIC VISIONS, an immersive multi-screen/milti-channel media artwork comissioned by the International Renewable Energy Agency that celebrates renewable energy power sources as a long term solution to avert global warmig. The project will be installed in the gallery spaces of Ca Foscari University in Dosoduro that face the Grand Canal.


My artistic practice explores how real situations, structures, times and placespossess remarkable sonic and visual properties. Many of the projects Icreate involve sound and video recordings from which to build an artwork.In some cases, these installations and sound sculptures were created usingreal-time sound and image. For example, my most recent project opened last October at Lisbon’s new contemporary art museum, MAAT. SHADOW SOUNDINGS turned Lisbon’s iconic 25th of April Bridge into a living work of media art.

FLOATING ECHOES will be my latest attempt to blend science,technology and art together by turning MOSE into a living artwork. It is also the first time I will create a project with a flood barrier system. MOSE represents humankind’s attempt through technology to hold back the rising waters surrounding Venice and the lagoon. The MOSE project’s mission falls in line with previous attempts by the city to intervene in the activity of the lagoon, protecting the city and its people against natural threats. The project has deep cultural and historical significance. Ancient Venetians previously built expansive sea walls and diverted two major rivers. Venice is one of Europe’s most important cultural capitals and compromises 124 island, settlements dating back to the 7th century.

Preliminary Concept

The MOSE flood barrier system is a tremendous floating structure containing a whole universe of hidden vibrations of water that moves through the structure's resonances. I intend to install a network of accelerometers and hydrophones into the system that will pick up, indetail, the secret musical life of the MOSE.This project will culminate into a real-time sound sculpture at a future site in Venice after MOSE is completed and in operation.

I will also explore the visual nature of the system by recording video and sounds that gaze closely at MOSE’s interactions with the movement of water.


FLOATING ECHOES will be installed in the gallery spaces of Ca FoscariUniversity that face the Grand Canal. Floating Echoes will be presented as awork in progress and media studies for a future live media artwork I intend to realize in the near future when MOSE is completed.

FLOATING ECHOES will be be realized in collaboration with Science GalleryVenice which is a new initiative of Ca Foscari University, Venice; one of Italy's leading university on sustainability and environmental sciences. This initiativeis also supported by the DVRI (Distretto Veneziano della Riceraca eInnovazione).The Science Gallery Venice’s mission is to showcase artworks which activelyengage with science and technology and that focus on the themes: Our Cities,Our Planets, Ourselves. SGV is part of an international network ofgalleries, based in Dublin, Bangalore, London and Melbourne which highlight the complementary relationship between the latest science and art.

FLOATING ECHOES will use the tides and technology of the MOSE to sonify and visualize its interactions with the tides and currents of the Venice Lagoon and will be the first artwork to shown as part of the Science Gallery Venice.


With the support of environmental scientists from Ca Foscari and the DVRI(the Venetian research institutions which are part of Science Gallery Venice network), I will work in and around MOSE producing these recordings. I intend to have an initial version of this project realized by the opening of the Archetecture Biennale di Venezia. This will also be an ongoing work in progress. During the Biennale, I intend to conduct workshops that explore the field recordings and research that went into developing this