U-M-affiliated artist work on view at Detroit’s DLECTRICITY Festival

This year’s line-up for Detroit's light-based art festival, Dlectricity, features a handful of U-M affiliated artists, like U-M Taubman alum Patrick Ethen's "Pulsar."
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ANN ARBOR—In its first appearance since 2017, DLECTRICITY is set to return to Detroit this year, offering audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in a “landscape of light” through groundbreaking installations of video art, new media, lasers, interactive design and engineering, and captivating performance. 

The major public art event, which was inspired by Nuit Blanche arts festivals from around the world, has been presented three major light-based art + technology festivals in 2012, 2014 and 2017. 

Produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI), the spectacular outdoorlight-based art + technology celebration, which has been presented in Detroit only three times before (2012, 2014, and 2017), takes place in Detroit’s Cultural District and DTE’s Beacon Park Sept. 24-25, from 7 p.m.–12 a.m. each night. 

This year’s line-up features a handful of University of Michigan-affiliated artists, including  A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and U-M Stamps School of Art & Design Alumni and Professors.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE: ABHISHEK NARULA

Stamps alum Abhishek Narula (MFA 20’) is an artist and educator whose installations, performances and interventions explore the aesthetics of code, electronics and computers.

Narula is interested in how playing with machines can help us expand our imagination and creative possibilities as with the growing number of smartphones and smart devices, our urban spaces are now filled with a different type of invisible light. 

Manifesting as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellphone signals, this form of invisible light has become a core feature of the urban landscapes that Narula highlights in his work.

Narula’s work, “All The Light We Cannot See”, is an interactive light installation using Bluetooth, wifi and cellular signals from nearby devices that can be found at location #11 on Dlectricity’s Art Map, at Electric Park | Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202.

Abhishek Narula All the Light We Cannot See Dlectricity 2021, image of trees and rendering of sound waves.

Abhishek Narula’s “All the Light We Cannot See” collects forms of invisible light like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellphone signals from nearby and represents them in an interactive light installation.

ALL NITE TETHERBALL – ROLAND GRAF, NICK TOBIER AND MICHAEL RODEMER 

Building on previous collaborative works, U-M Stamps professors Roland Graf, Nick Tobier and Michael Rodemer present an interactive installation that will answer your action with sparkles cast from fast-moving LED lights. “All-Nite Tetherball” transforms a light pole into an interactive plaything and with it the surrounding urban space from utility to play. 

Wrapped in colorful LED strips similar to the art of urban knitting, the light effects displayed on the pole can be set in motion by interacting with an illuminated ball attached to it.

Set up on three municipal light poles on Kirby Street outside the Detroit Institute of Arts, this installation creates an urban icon with references to both the neighborhood barber pole — an illuminated, spinning column of stripes that calls out to pedestrians — and street games. It offers a brilliant, interactive interpretation of a favorite playground staple, a tetherball pole.

“All-Nite Tetherball” can be found at location #6 on Dlecticity’s Art Map, ​​at Kirby Street (between Woodward Ave. and John R St.)

U-M Stamps professors Roland Graf, Nick Tobier and Michael Rodemer All Night Tetherball Dlectricity 2021

U-M Stamps professors Roland Graf, Nick Tobier and Michael Rodemer All Night Tetherball installations are interactive displays that can be found at three municipal light poles on Kirby Street outside the Detroit Institute of Arts.

ON LOVE AND DATA AND HOLDING SPACE: STEPHANIE DINKINS

Stamps Gallery is proud to premiere a new projection work by Stephanie Dinkins at Dlectricity in Detroit that extends into a visual poem and offers glimpses into an Afro-now-ist world she has envisioned. 

In this world, Dinkins illuminates the power and resilience in black women’s stories, reminding us that sharing and receiving stories is an act of resistance. This projection is part of a major survey of Dinkins’ work titled “Stephanie Dinkins: On Love & Data” that is on view at Stamps Gallery until October 23, 2021.

The projection can be found at location #33 on Dlectricity’s Art Map, at the U-M Rackham Educational Memorial Building, 60 Farnsworth St., Detroit, MI 48202.

Dinkins-Secret-Garden-to-Professor, On Love and Data projection for Dlectricity 2021.

Stamps Gallery is proud to premier a new projection work by Stephanie Dinkins at DLECTRICITY in Detroit that extends into a visual poem and offers glimpses into an Afro-now-ist world she has envisioned.

PULSAR: PATRICK ETHEN

U-M Taubman College of Urban Planning alum Patrick Ethen (BS 12’) is an artist and designer who uses light as a medium to explore emergent and ephemeral behavior, using meticulously wired arrays of electronics to construct installations that envelop the viewer in a meditative, immersive aura that feels simultaneously human and artificial.

“Pulsar” is the latest iteration of a line of Ethen’s work that is characterized as star simulations: large-scale, immersive, cosmic representations of some idealized space technology. 

Pulsars are naturally occurring, rapidly spinning, highly magnetized compact stars that emit beams of radiation out of their magnetic poles–the leftover remains of a star core after a supernova. 

Ethen will be using hand-wired LEDs and generative code to create an abstracted light object version of a pulsar, one which feels alien in nature, which oscillates and pulses to its own rhythm, creating a hypnotizing atmosphere that pulls the observer in with its gravity.

This impressive circular data-driven generative light sculpture using thousands of animated LEDs can be found at location #23 on Dlectricity’s Art Map, at the Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth St, Detroit, MI 48202.

U-M Taubman College of Urban Planning alum Patrick Ethen (BS 12’) Pulsar, Dlectricity 2021.

U-M Taubman College Alum Patrick Ethen’s hand-wired LEDs combine tech and art to create star simulations or abstracted light object versions of a pulsar.