+ROOM, 2009

— Sound Installation

+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, 2009

— Performance

Developed for Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery, +ROOM-ROOM is a pair of site-specfic sound installations mounted in two adjacent galleries. Artists Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin independently explore how the perception of architectural space is affected and transformed by sound. Through contrasting sensory experiences, the installations create a divide between the two virtually identical rooms and restructure notions of architectural solidity and singularity in favor of more flexible, intuitive, and subjective perceptions.

The aural compositions, based on ambient recordings made in the two galleries, turn attention onto the spaces themselves and encourage us to rethink the ways in which we process physical location, and create assumptions about our surroundings. Novak, assigned to +ROOM, utilizes the upper sonic spectrum to highlight the volume and density of his gallery, while Drouin, assigned to -ROOM, explores the lower spectrum of sound in order to exploit the emptiness of the space.

Here, Novak and Drouin present a live composition of +ROOM-ROOM using the original sound pieces as source material for the new work. Where the original installation presented two discreet aesthetic experiences, the live performance references the commingling of sounds that occurred in the hallway between the two Henry galleries.

Related Recordings & Publications

+ROOM-ROOM, 2009

— Split Album

+ROOM-ROOM is a pair of sound installations for two adjacent galleries at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery. Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin individually explore how the perception of these familiar places is transformed by sound. Through contrasting sensory experiences, the installations create an experiential divide between the two virtually identical rooms and restructure notions of architectural solidity and singularity in favor of more flexible, intuitive perceptions. The aural compositions, based on actual ambient noises recorded in the galleries, turn attention onto the spaces themselves and encourage us to rethink the ways in which we process physical location, and create assumptions about our surroundings.


Credits

+ROOM-ROOM was organized by Henry Associate Curator Sara Krajewski.
The exhibition is generously supported by ArtsFund and the Patrons of the Henry Art Gallery.
In kind support provided by Tannoy.

Track Listing

  1. Yann Novak — +ROOM
  2. Jamie Drouin — -ROOM

Credits

+ROOM-ROOM was organized by Henry Associate Curator Sara Krajewski.
The exhibition is generously supported by ArtsFund and the Patrons of the Henry Art Gallery.
In kind support provided by Tannoy.

Read Reviews

  • Best of 2009 Lists: Daniel Crokaert (Mystery Sea), & i8u.

  • Two separate ways of conceiving the alteration of the perception of space in relation to sounds that start as normal but, once processed, become a completely dissimilar source of sensations and aural/psychological fulfilment. This is what transpires from +Room-Room, the soundtrack to a brace of installations situated in adjacent settings at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery in 2009, of which this recording (published on the Gallery’s own label) captures the fundamental nature. Basically, Novak utilized the higher frequencies whereas Drouin preferred the lower ones; both interpretations of this study are quite engrossing, the former – splendid in its meditative motionlessness and invisibly morphing shapes – recalling an updated version of Charlemagne Palestine’s investigations with oscillators (circa Four Manifestations On Six Elements), the latter generating a gradually expanding huge mantle of finely tuned reverberating murmurs and hums, a hovering cloud that nonetheless leaves plenty of clean air for a different kind of movement, occurring inside the sonic texture and the discerning addressees. Utterly devoid of bells and whistles, anchored to the basic essence of environmental sound, these are brilliantly realized, efficient soundscapes that deserve to be mentioned among the genre’s best releases. An example to follow in terms of acoustic sobriety and artistic earnestness, topping this lot together with Sublamp’s Breathletters.
    – Temporary Fault

  • +ROOM-ROOM, a recording of a pair of installations for two adjacent galleries, sees Novak and Drouin conspiring again. Here the obscure object of their aural desire is the perception of familiar places and its transformation through sound, streamed into two adjacent galleries; the changes in representation of the room in different sound conditions are researched. The installations create an experiential divide between two virtually identical rooms, notions of architectural integrity ceding to more flexible perceptions. We are invited to rethink how we conceive physical location and contruct our surroundings through two contrasting tracts. “+ROOM” finds Novak gradually building from silence into organ-ic mono-drone with high and low frequencies cut out. Compressed into mid-range, slow thematic shifts, new layers and vibrations distinguish themselves. Slowly but surely, the sound evolves, tintinnabulating, strangely upbeat in tenor, swarming, buzzing, ebbing and flowing, minimal to liminal. Drouin’s “-ROOM” has an immediately different view, low-end frequency opening it up suggesting a beyond of nightsky horizons over postindustrial evacuations. More foreboding, Drouin’s drone is softer, more seductive, rumbles appearing amid a thick wave of hiss until the elements merge into a singular inhale-exhale entity. A low-end combination of icy chords with hiss, static and rumbling that conveys a sense of solitude and distance. It forms a -/+ binary, effectively showing the phenomenological nature of space and form.
    – Furthernoise

  • Sound artists Yann Novak now based in Los Angeles who runs Dragons Eye Recordings and Jamie Drouin a co-founder member alongwith Lance Olsen since 2001 of Canada’s Infrequency imprint which is associated in the U.S.A Novak’s label, team-up for the +Room-Room project that consist in two sound installations at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery where the noises produced in this environment were recorded. But noises which are unidentifiable, closed to silence. Very subtle pieces of sound shaped as drones and minimal electronics.

    “+Room-Room” are two ambient pieces in the line of Richard Chartier’s low range dynamics. The first track is colourful and scatters pure tones. The second cut is darker and its layers are built by grainy digital snippets. If the first track has gorgeous underrated harmonies, track two delves into the deep and obscure listening.
    – Loop

  • A release in conjunction with the Henry art gallery in Seattle, +Room-Room finds friends and musical collaborators Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin teaming up once again. Based on two sound installations at the gallery, the work here manages to reflect the idea of 2 virtually identical rooms, each with their own unique ambience. Created using recordings of the spaces themselves, what’s immediately apparent is the skillful manipulation of tone and texture by both artists. Novak’s contribution is centered around a mid to high end sound, processed into a drifting and ethereal ambient piece. Slowly but surely, the sound evolves until it resembles a choir of bells – subtle bells, admittedly – chiming through your mind. It’s a remarkably happy sounding piece I think and works on a number of levels. Drouin’s piece, by contrast, is a darker, considerably more moody piece that’s no less beautiful for it. A low-end combination of icy chords with hiss, static and rumbling quality that conveys a sense of solitude and distance. As an almost complete opposite of the first track it works like a dream and goes to show that space and form are open to a wide amount of interpretation. Compelling, engaging and deeply satisfying, this is another awesome work from these guys. Wonderful.
    – Smallfish

  • The inarguably prolific Novak also appears on +ROOM-ROOM, which in its originating form is a pair of 4-channel sound installations for two adjacent galleries currently showing (until May 3) at the Seattle, Washington-based Henry Art Gallery (the audio CD presents stereo versions of the works). The artists’ pieces attempt to explore how one’s perception of a particular space—a gallery room in this case—is affected by sound. The pieces themselves are based on actual ambient noises recorded in the galleries and thus aren’t metaphors but, in fact, sonic “transcriptions” of the physical spaces. As is often the case, however, the adventurous listener—or at least one with an appetite for long-form drones—can appreciate the material sans familiarity with the project’s background.

    Novak’s “+ROOM” emerges from a minute of silence with an organ-like drone that’s slowly joined by high-pitched, whistling noises. Without deviating from its drone character, the piece undergoes subtle transformation in timbre and volume throughout its half-hour duration, advancing loudly at times and then retreating towards near-silence at others. The material swells into a buzzing swarm that one becomes so acclimated to that when the swarm drops out for a moment at the twenty-five-minute mark, one is jolted by its sudden disappearance. Par for the genre, Novak’s overtone-generating drone induces an hypnotic effect as it wavers in space before returning to the silence from whence it came. Drouin’s “-ROOM” immediately announces a shift in tone by rolling out a sub-lunar hum that swells into an ambient mass of (what at least appear to be) environmental sounds. Rumbles appear amidst a thick wave of hiss until the elements merge into a singular billowing entity that as it expands and contracts almost imperceptibly grows in size and volume. Interestingly, while the two pieces are identically-timed (at 31:25) and both use the galleries’ ambient sounds as source material, they’re almost completely unlike one another in character.
    – Textura

  • In Henry Art Gallery (Washington, USA) since February, 7th by May, 3rd takes place the audio installation +ROOM-ROOM the authors of which are Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin. Both audio designers transmit the sound stream into two adjacent galleries and research the changes in representation of the room in different sound conditions. Their multichannel installation was released in stereo variant on CD consisting of two tracks, each of which lasts more than for 30 minutes. “+ROOM” – the first part belonging to Yann Novak starts with absolute silence and gradually grows into monotonous drone with high and low frequencies cut out. In the middle part of the spectrum one can hear slow changes of themes, new layers and vibrations. But all this is mixed up into single shapeless stream without sharp corners and abrupt turns. I don’t think that stereo variant reproduced the atmosphere inside the gallery, where these sounds were produced, in full measure. There isn’t enough volume which probably was in the room with multichannel acoustic system. “-ROOM” by Jamie Drouin differs much – low frequency drones open the view of huge night horizons, clear endless sky and abandoned objects of postindustrial epoch. Closer to the 20th minute I felt as if I were on a deserted oil rig in the middle of an ocean lit by the moonlight and large number of charming stars. The second part of the album came out more adapted for listening at home. Perhaps it seems to me so because I don’t like strongly-marked middle frequencies which prevailed in “+ROOM”. Dark, a little bit frightening, hypnotic drone by Drouin is more soft and pleasant to the touch.
    – Sound Proector

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