Tag Archive for 'detroit'
RESEARCH ON THE CITY
The Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning hosted a month long installation featuring a Faculty Research pilot project called “Research on the City.” Exhibited in the school’s off-campus studio space, Liberty Lofts, the gallery was composed of work done by faculty from a range of disciplines with a focus on the city of Detroit. The space was divided into five sections, each devoted to the large scale expositions by one of the following titles: A Dozen Playgrounds, Atlas of Love and Hate: Detroit Geographies, Geographies of Trash, Imaging Detroit, and Re:Tool-kit for Detroit. The majority of the work was digital, either model diagrams or audio/video soundbites. It was also interactive, however, with the possibility of climbing onto the pieces to get a better look. Though the display was artistic, it was very architectural. After having worked in an architecture studio this summer, I recognized the aesthetic as very niche. It was almost inaccessible to the average eye, even though faculty influences came from the School of Education, School of Natural Resources and Environment, School of Art and Design, Department of French, and the School of Information.
Something far more inviting to the non-architect passer-by was arranged on a table in the middle of the room: an extensive library of books about Detroit. The collection included both published works as well as bound student publications . I enjoyed skimming through past student archives and seeing what peers had produced in past years related to this currently hot topic. One of my favorite books was called Detroit: Then and Now. It featured side-by-side stills of famous sites in Detroit, one in the early part of the century and one in the present day. The difference was shocking. I flipped page after page until I realized I had read the whole book and the gallery was closing.
Speaking of, the entire exhibit finishes this Sunday December 16th, so check it out this weekend! Liberty Research Annex, 305 W. Liberty Street, Friday- Sunday 2pm-7pm.
Detropia was screened last week at the Michigan Theater as a part of the semester series Motor City Movies: Discovering Detroit. There was a lot of buzz the film around town so naturally it peaked my curiosity. I went with three girls from my English class who all left feeling riled up by the portrayal of the city. The story covered several different characters who are struggling to live vibrantly through Detroit’s struggling state of affairs. A video blogger, a politician, a bar owner, a pair of hipsters, a union organizer are all cast as themselves in the tale of this ‘crumbling’ city.
From a cinematographic stand point, the documentary was beautifully shot, carefully organized, and visually intriguing. It revealed a colorful exposé of an urban landscape brushing up against decay and the simultaneous resurgence of nature in the form of fields and wild weeds. Furthermore, it high lighted aspects of the city that are integral and historic, like the Detroit Opera House and the Automobile Show. Yet while the picture was well crafted, it lacked a lot of content that would otherwise make it more…accurate. For example, there were no Hispanic people featured and there is a long history of native Spanish speakers living in Detroit. Also, many of the African-American characters seemed to be parodies of themselves, caricatures even. This was part of the controversy that many viewers felt upon watching the film.
I agree that the directors missed the mark on many story lines that exist in and define Detroit. Perhaps they even perpetuated Detroits demarcated name by portraying it as a failed city. At the same time, I don’t feel personally critical because I thought the documentary was a tightly knit and well worth my time simply because it was a true piece of visual art.
Just before watching, I listened in on the first half of the ‘Detropia Panel’ in Angell Hall, hosted by Semester in Detroit. I left feeling the general consensus was that native Detroiters felt offended by the portrayal of the city whereas outsiders felt curious about the strife, or positively moved by the story line. Questions were raised about who this film was intended for and if the location of its screening altered its message in any way. One of the strongest criticisms was that the film ignored community organizations, non-profits, and other group efforts to revitalize the city that are alive, inspired, and current. This defiant voice was carried by students who participated in active internships as part of Semester in Detroit last year.
One of these grassroots orgs, for example, is a group of six U of M alums who graduated last spring and moved downtown to form a small company called Wedge Detroit. On Saturday September 22, they group broke a world record by hosting a four mile long hopscotch course as part of the Detroit Design Festival. The event saw huge success and celebrated the urban vitality that organizations are trying to re-inject into the city.
Ellen Rutt, TJ, Ajooni Sethi, James, Dylan Box, Laura Willming, Marissa, and Flaco at Hopscotch Detroit.
Get inspired and check out info about Hopscotch Detroit. They are proof that Detropia did, indeed, gloss over the part about young people organizing their energy for the good of the city. For more about the film, check out the Detropia website and Facebook page or to see an interview with directors Rachel Grading and Heidi Ewing, click here.
The Magic Stick in Detroit is the kind of venue in which one could live a fulfilling life without ever leaving. Downstairs: bowling, pizza, theater. Upstairs: cozy music venue, bar, billiards, deck with (another) bar.
Despite the amenities, I hadn’t been to a show that more than half-filled the Magic Stick. This show finally did it. The night began with Casino vs. Japan, a minimal electronic act celebrating a recent reissue on semi-local Moodgadget Records. I was surprised to see Casino vs. Japan on the bill, not only because the music is very different from the other two acts, but because minimal electronic music usually doesn’t lend itself well to live performances. And as I arrived towards the end of the set, my suspicions were confirmed: pale dude behind a laptop wearing a beanie.
The gathering crowd showed appreciation, and towards the end of the set I realized that this type of music could fill an important role on a split bill like this one. Rather than the typical classic rock and stale pop piped in through the PA as the crowd assembles, live minimal music allows for milling about and holding conversations in the same way, but at least there’s something creative going on in front of you.
During Real Estate’s set, the crowd thickened considerably, growing to include: a group of kids who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, many, many teenagers in plaid shirts, and a girl with gold shoulders who brought with her a group of overdressed college students who pushed everyone aside to get to the front and take a bunch of iphone photos of themselves. And do you guys remember the Bash Brothers from The Mighty Ducks? They were there. I guess that’s what a Pitchfork Best New Music review earns you.
Real Estate played an impressive set, embellished with a couple new tracks from the guitarist’s solo project, Ducktails. If you could describe Real Estate’s set as relaxing, which it was, Deerhunter’s was anything but. The distinctive affected and noisy sound of Deerhunter was augmented by an unexpected energy that slowly built throughout the set. Perhaps it was the stage presence of the front man, Bradford Cox, who despite his weak and skinny appearance due to Marfan syndrome, was able to interpret his emotional involvement in every song in a physical way throughout the 90+ minute set. Or perhaps it was the carefully constructed set list that consistently grew in intensity and encompassed material from their three most recent albums and EPs. Or maybe it was just the mosh pit that formed several times, stressing the floorboards of the Magic Stick in an alarming manner. Either way, I was past the point of exhaustion by the time the last song ended.
Final thought: Avoid the Bash Brothers when moshing. Seriously, those guys weigh at least 300 pounds a piece. No match for skinny hipsters.