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Master blaster
University of Montana master's-degree candidate Ivars Drulle has worked for months on an "Threshold," which integrates sound, shape, texture and size into one piece.

UM grad student creating horns of unusual size, amplification

This work, a colossal, site-specific sculpture and sound installation entitled "Threshold," by Latvian-born artist Ivars Drulle, is going to be on exhibit as part of the master's of fine arts graduate-degree show running from

May 2 to May 16 at the Gallery of Visual Arts on the University of Montana campus.

The piece consists of two giant trumpet-like forms - each spanning half the distance of the gallery - the heads of which will meet at a cocked angle in the middle of the space.

The masterful construction of these objects, even before they are utilized as sound carriers, is impressive. Drulle has been working long hours on the piece daily since January. The funnel-shaped ends are 10 feet in diameter, and the fast-tapering shafts behind them are 27 feet long. Each weighs approximately a half ton and is built using a third of a mile of steel rod, 400 hundred pounds of plaster, six gallons of carpenter's glue, and more than 5,000 cubic feet of newsprint.

To get them through the

8-foot gallery doors, Drulle must cut each horn into four pieces and reassemble them inside. The thin-skinned circular horns look like massive morning glory blossoms; it made me cringe to think of them being sliced. But Drulle has accounted for these obstacles from the start, and looking at his pleasingly mathematical plans, the careful consideration he's given to the specificity of the art-gallery space becomes apparent.

"Really, I'd say I'm more interested in architecture than I am in sculpture or sculptors," he tells me. "When I look at other artists, I am most often looking at architects." He lists Daniel Liebeskind, the polish architect who recently won the competition to design the new trade towers, as one of his favorites.

Once installed, viewers who venture into the apex where the horns meet will find themselves exactly in between two sound tunnels from which will emit a variety of amplified sounds, played from speakers at the far ends. Though the length and taper of the tube makes the mostly recognizable noises - trains, cats, laughter, rain, sizzling oil - seem as though they could be arriving from some entirely remote place, the clarity and volume of them make one feel as though they are eerily close to something that isn't exactly familiar. It is a pleasingly dissonant feeling.

Drulle plans on adding to this collection of sounds until the show opens, and even through the duration of the exhibit. Says Drulle, who has plans to move back to his hometown of Riga, Latvia, soon after graduating: "I want people to feel like this new way of hearing represents any moment at which a new door of perception is opened." Thus the title, "Threshold," refers to a state of being on the brink of new possibility and experience, essential to any effective art.

Finally, for anyone interested in owning this labor-intensive work, the major requirement is space, not money. Drulle says he will part with the entire thing - fancy sound equipment not included - for a mere $20.

Twice a month, Missoula artist Ben Bloch writes a review of artwork that can be seen and experienced around Missoula.

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