Handfuls of Vapor is a site specific minimalist installation by Canadian media artist Jamie Drouin that looks to the history of the Školská 28 exhibition space.Installation creates a hole into history through discrete alterations of architectural space, and poetic illusions of the building’s original use. Drouin’s minimal intervention at Školská 28 disturbs the thin membrane of the building just enough to allow latent sounds and images to be revealed anew.
Built in 1939, the structure now occupied by Školská 28 was originally a factory for galvanizing metal, a procedure for weatherizing steel by using a combination of zinc and, until the 1960’s, the highly toxic chemical compound cyanide. Re-purposed and renovated in 1999, the Školská 28 building today shows little indication of its history.
For this installation Drouin has removed the glass ceiling tiles in the five large skylights, revealing the vaulted spaces above. These tiles are then stacked against the wall in ordered blocks. In the otherwise bare-wall gallery, our attention is drawn upward to the original architecture, which serve as faceted views to the sky, and structural echoes of the original factory.
Each skylight chamber is lit by a single low wattage bulb, bathing the compartments in a warm subdued glow, giving the opportunity to examine the inner steel structures. Visitors will also become aware of a quiet, persistent white noise, provided by small suspended speakers aimed upwards, and moving gently across the space. The soft electronic hissing acts as an artificial reference to the caustic chemical baths which originally sat below, the vapor rising up and collecting inside these five skylights.
bio: Canadian artist Jamie Drouin examines the sonic palette of electrical noise pollution and the positioning of these sounds within new music frameworks. Through installations, and improvised performances working with a small suitcase synthesizer and radio, Drouin creates intricately detailed compositions which seek to transform audience perceptions of familiar habitats, and to find new ways of relating to the auditory artifacts of contemporary life.
Drouin's work has been featured at several International venues, including the Biennial of the Americas (Denver), Mutek (Montreal), TodaysArt (The Hague), Decibel Festival (Seattle), Montréal Museum of Contemporary Art (Montreal), Henry Art Gallery (Seattle), Communikey (Boulder), La Société de Curiosités (Paris), and General Public (Berlin). His recorded works have been published through con-V, Oral, Dragon's Eye Recordings, Mutek_Rec, Rope Swing Cities, and Infrequency Editions. He has collaborated with several international artists including Crys Cole, Mathieu Ruhlmann, Yann Novak, Skoltz Kolgen, Lance Austin Olsen, and Karl Kliem.
Jamie Drouin is also the co-founder of INFREQUENCY EDITIONS, curating works by a diverse group of sound artists, and works as one half of DROUIN/OLSEN, a live project with Lance Austin Olsen.
Jamie Drouin is currently artist-in-residence at the Školska Gallery.
(Photo of the gallery from Linhart Foundation's archive)