The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
When I first moved to Detroit six years ago, people told me I was crazy. Since then, there have been times I have believed them. However, I have also begun to realize that at other times the crazier we are, the more creative and ambitious our endeavors can be. This is why, when I first met Richard Chase from the Motor City Makers and Jake Chidester from Detroit Allied Studios, I knew I had met my kind of people. The two of them have combined their over-sized brains (Chase is finishing his doctorate in electrical engineering, and Chidester is finishing up a degree in architecture) with their vivid imaginations to produce the spark for conceptually complex, as well as structurally beautiful and functional, pieces. The addition of their cohort Alisyn Malek, who is a graduate student in energy systems engineering, adds a sustainable and environmentally conscious element to the team.
The project they are currently working on is the "diet" version of a larger piece titled "Intelligent Node Park" that they produced for CAMP Detroit at the Movement Electronic Music Festival. This latest model will be displayed at the 34th Dally in the Alley happening this Saturday in the Cass Corridor. "Keeping with an aesthetic that is heavily grounded in the fabric of the city, this continued endeavor sought out to create a temporal intelligent implied space, this time focusing on optimization through reduction of form and amplification of illuminated volume. In other words, v2.0 is lighter, faster, stronger. These nocturnal sculptures are aesthetically wonderful in the day time and will play with you at night time (if you are nice to them)," explained Chase. The animated duo took a moment out of their busy work schedules to have a conversation with me about the "nodes" and Dally in the Ally.
Vanessa Miller: What is the inspiration behind the nodes?
Jake Chidester: This is essentially a modified DNA helix, rooted in the materiality of the urban occurrence. Simple, spatial forms defining a changing/ interactive, data-filled nucleus.
Richard Chase: For me, to get chicks. Probably to showcase some of the talents that non-classically trained artists have to offer, integration of state-of-the-art electronics into architecturally profound sculptures, create an optimized temporal intelligent implied space that is heavily grounded in the fabric of the city and other [stuff] like that, too. But mostly to get chicks.
VM: What effect do you hope the (diet) nodes will have on Dally attendees?
RC: A few things. 1. People will actually interact with the sculptures. Its nice to know people appreciate your work and it will actually function as you meant it to. 2. Someone with millions of dollars will commission us to do more work or inquire about other projects. I am sure Jake and Alisyn would have something more profound to say, but they are the intellectuals of the group. I am the dreamer.
JC: For me, installation art/architecture is about creating an unexpected moment in the public forum. Lasting impressions are always valued, but a slight nudge from the unexpected discovery of a form is significant.
VM: The Motor City Makers and Detroit Allied Studios function independently. How do you feel your styles mesh when working on these collaborations?
RC: I think its pretty simple, they don’t. But the key point is that both of us have 9-to-5 jobs in the industry, and we know how to work within a group setting and make compromises. Detroit Allied Studios brings the sleek, clean, thought-provoking and innovating elements. I (Motor City Makers) bring the electronics and the mentally unstable elements.
VM: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to at Dally this year?
JC: Generally, as with most public events, the people-watching is tops.
RC: Walking around and drinking out of paper bag all day. Alinosi's Ice cream. Save me some peanut butter. People ate it all last time before I could get my mits on it.
The “Diet Node Park” will be installed at Dally in the Alley, a performing arts festival that takes over the Cass Corridor in midtown Detroit every September. This year, the festival boasts 41 musical acts, art installations, a slew of vendors selling local goods, as well as beer and food vendors. Stages that are placed in the backyards and alleyways of apartment buildings mixed with the cool fall air make the Dally a magical happening.
Dally is free and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Third and Forest and Second and Hancock, Detroit, Mich. 48201 Visit its website for directions and music line-up: http://www.dallyinthealley.com.