In his newest sonic sculpture, Vertical Echoes, noted sound artist Bill Fontana brings the horror of the WWI battlefield to IWM North, part of the Imperial War Museums, in Manchester, England.
As in several of his sound installations, Fontana has selected a remotely powered IntelligentDC system from Meyer Sound to accurately reproduce his soundscape and immerse museum visitors.
Vertical Echoes is housed inside a 55-meter-high tower known as the AirShard, located at IWM North. To evoke battlefield dynamics, Vertical Echoes juxtaposes the crescendos of battle against a backdrop of softer nature sounds.
Featuring recordings of a Sopwith Camel warplane and vintage field gun, the soundscape is reproduced by eight self-powered UPJunior-XP VariO loudspeakers with IntelligentDC technology. The loudspeakers are evenly spaced along the vertical axis of the structure.
“There’s extreme dynamic range in the work, from artillery fire and the buzzing biplane, to wind in the trees and twittering birds,” says Fontana. “The UPJunior-XPs were ideal for this piece because they offered both clarity and dynamic range.”
Providing the same sonic performance as the company’s self-powered AC systems, Meyer Sound loudspeakers with IntelligentDC technology are driven by a rack-mount IntelligentDC power supply, with one cable carrying both power and balanced audio to reduce installation times and costs.
“It’s just so much easier to work with in situations like this,” notes Fontana. “You don’t have to run AC or long speaker cables, but you still get true bi-amplified systems. The UPJunior-XPs were perfectly suited to this application.”
The Meyer Sound loudspeakers were provided and installed by Pro Audio Systems of Bradford, West Yorkshire, with project management headed by Lee Unsworth. A Meyer Sound dealer in the north of England, Pro Audio Systems is also a long-time supplier for IWM North.
“I was really impressed by the quality of the loudspeakers, and their capacity to play such clear and loud sound,” observes Zoe Dunbar, head of exhibitions at IWM North. “The vertical positioning of the speakers creates a breathing wave of sound that you experientially feel. Our aspiration was to mark the centennial by engaging visitors in a challenging way and giving contemporary relevance to the First World War. I believe we have achieved those goals with Vertical Echoes, and our visitors have reacted positively.”
Vertical Echoes is the first in a series of artistic responses to World War I commissioned by IWM North in honor of the war’s centennial. The installation runs through September 21. (Go here to listen to a sample track from Vertical Echoes.)
Recognized as one of the world’s foremost sound artists, Bill Fontana has created innovative and intriguing sound sculptures around the world since 1976. In 1999, Fontana’s requirement for very small, high-quality loudspeakers for his installation along the Lyon, France tramway provided the impetus for Meyer Sound to develop the MM-4, the first in the company’s popular line of miniature loudspeakers.
Find out more about IntelligentDC systems here, and check them out in live demos at InfoComm 2014 in Las Vegas at demo room N110.