+ROOM-ROOM is a pair of sound installations for two adjacent galleries. In these twin exhibition spaces, artists Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin investigate how sound can transform the physical and psychological perception of familiar places. Novak and Drouin have independently created two audio compositions based on ambient recordings made in the empty galleries. From this identical conceptual starting point, however, the two works diverge. The artists expand their respective compositions by utilizing numerous different layers of the processed recordings as well as two different playback methods: +ROOM is 4-channel mono and -ROOM is 4-channel dimensional surround. Each work offers a distinct aural and corporeal experience.
Novak (+ROOM) employs a process that could be described as additive. The recorded white noise forms the foundation for a generative and melodic manipulation of existing sounds; the final work exhibits a bright, closed tonal range. On the other hand, Drouin (-ROOM) follows a reductive impulse. He distills the underlying sounds by isolating inherent intonations and modulations that result in a deeper, more natural tonal range.
The galleries are bare save for speakers and benches for seating. This aesthetic decision begs us to turn our attention onto the basic elements of the rooms themselves. This strategy encourages us to rethink the ways in which we assess physical location and create assumptions about our surroundings primarily through our sense of sight. Moreover, spaces — galleries included — are far from neutral to the eye, the body, or the mind. Denoting each room here as “plus” and “minus” suggests the sorts of charged meaning that architecture can carry. The contrasting auditory experiences distinctively energize each space, further breaking down our expectations of architectural solidity, and finally give way to more expansive levels of awareness.
+ROOM-ROOM, The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, February 7 – May 3, 2009