Bill Fontana: Speeds of Time
Tate Britain: Exhibition
5 September 3 October 2008

Bill Fontana’s Speeds of Time is a real-time sculptural sound map derived from the sounds of Big Ben. A network of microphones starts at the House of Commons from the bell tower itself, spreading out to rooftops and terraces around and beyond Parliament Square. As it does so, Speeds of Time traces the contours of the temporal deformation of the bells. Some of the microphone locations include Westminster Abbey, the Treasury Building and the Horse Guards Clock at Whitehall.

This new version of Speeds of Time is developed from an earlier version that was originally commissioned by the Works of Art Committee of the House of Commons in 2004, and had focused on the Great Clock. As a live sound sculpture, sensors and microphones were mounted on the ‘Great Clock’ and near the bell so that each tick and chime was repeated seven times, and relayed across eight speakers, moving from one to another and raising the question ‘which one is real?’. This older version can be heard on Bill Fontana’s website.

Millbank Entrance, Tate Britain

Courtesy the Arts Council of England, Meyer Sound Labs, BBC Radio 4, Autograph Sound Recording, Haunch of Venison and City Inn Westminster.

Speeds of Time is commissioned by Chelsea Programme, Chelsea College of Art and Design and organised in collaboration with Tate Britain.