Fire with Fire

Driving through downtown Vancouver at night, one might be tempted to call the police upon seeing this old townhouse building ablaze. ‘Fire with Fire’ is an apt enough name for this installation art piece by Isabelle Hayeur – the faux flames are meant to conjure images of destruction in this district of decay.

Despite the derelict nature of the neighborhood, there is a beauty in these old buildings being overlooked by developers who continue to tear them down in the name of progress. The Olympic events expedited their destruction like never before.

Historic preservation efforts often come too late, and amount to too little, which is what this project aims to change … by catching the eye, drawing attention to the problem before everything is wiped clean and rebuilt.

Fire with Fire illusion video

But one still has to wonder: can art go too far? It is hard to imagine there weren’t at least a few false positives when it came to the the fake fires seen on each floor of the structure – they were make realistic on purpose, but perhaps too much so.

Galleries West has an interesting perspective by Michael Harris, too; read the rest over there.

“I remember the first time I saw Isabelle Hayeur’s Fire with Fire video installation. A four story building seemingly ablaze, with projected flames filling the windows of the top three floors, best viewed from the derelict end of Vancouver’s East Hastings Street. At five p.m. each day, as dusk settled over a city overrun with Olympic boosterism, Hayeur’s work was switched on; staff waited 30 seconds between igniting the second floor projector, the third, and the fourth, to heighten the sense of inexorable consumption.”

Fire with Fire art installation

“In a few minutes, the fire builds to a mute roar, filling 20-foot expanses of glass (backed by opaque paper for the projection to play on). The effect from street level was thrilling and, each evening, homeless folk paused alongside international media and wayward tourists to collectively indulge in Hayeur’s mediated shadenfreude (enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others).”