An archive of visual dialogue.

Designologue

Initiator
mrshape
Conspirator
randy
A vintage image
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mrshape

perception vs. reality…in this case the city of detroit.

having never been there, i’ll communicate what i have seen and heard second hand. randy will give his perceptions from living within.

this is the sound of detroit…

18 years ago, February 25, 2003
randy

I’m working on a worthy response. I started it at work today (damn, after I told a bunch of my co-employees about this site I shouldn’t say that). Tomorrow I should be able to finish it up (at home).

Aarseth

Here’s what I’ve noticed… People from Detroit love to DSNLG about Detroit.

Cool image. What’s that top piece? Did you disect your mixy-thing?

mrshape

i’m from az, but detroit seemed like a cool subject. i actually got the idea reading about william gibson. he’s known for his cool descriptions of japan (esp. tokyo) in his books. when he wrote his first books set in japan, he had never been there..he wrote from his perceptions he’d been exposed to in the media. i thought i could give detroit a shot from a distance…see what happens, and let a native tell me how it is, through design.

oh yeah, it’s the circuit board from inside…looking forward to the good stuff randy..(but don’t get fired over it!)

randy

If I understand the theme correctly… You throw an image at me about your perception of a specific subject (i.e. the sound of Detroit) then I respond with what I feel the reality of that subject is. Well here you go… I feel MC5, The Stooges, and Motown are the true sounds of Detroit. These musicians and songs represent the true feel of the city. From the grit to the faux sparkle. Booty Bass hasn’t captured anything but ravers on “E.”

18 years ago, February 26, 2003
glorymachine

Great image2. Really like the movement created by the faces and the train.

randy

Aarseth, I don’t mean to… However, out of the 4 DSNLG’s I’ve been involved in this is my second Detroit based theme. I guess it’s that popular dirty retro thing that lends itself really well to Detroit. Trust me, if you ever visit that’s all we’ve got going for us.

jeromius

Really like that image. I think it really gives the “flavor” of Detroit. The People Mover is a nice touch - who says Detroit doesn’t know about mass transit?

jeromius

Oh - BTW - I won’t tell anyone @ work you’ve been working on your DSNLG during business hours …

At least you’re not on the phone talking about how your kid is getting bit by a bunch of 3 year olds, so I won’t bust your chops.

travisanalogue

Randy: A very nice follow up. I think you’ve captured the true “sound of detroit” in your image. Not to mention the feel of it as well. The “graff” is a very nice touch as I happen to see alot of great bombs on my way to work day in and day out.

Don’t forget that the DEMF is comming up. Hope to see you there.

mrshape

i love the black and white flavor and the high contrast, the concept is great and all those cameo appearances… nice one, randy!

randy

For all you outsiders, The People Mover is the elevated train in the pic’. The funny thing about it is that it only goes about 15-20 blocks incircling the CBT (Central Business District) of downtown Detroit. Originally it was intended to be Detroit’s answer to mass-transit by linking to a few (never to be developed) suburban train systems. The city ran out of money. Therefore we now have this nearly useless pseudo-rollercoster that breaks-down routinely every 3-4 months. My personal opinion is that the city should put a few loops and drops in the track. Kinda like The Magnum at Cedar Point!

I’d ride it everyday…

jeromius

The people mover is a wonderfully random thing. It’s even cooler now that they have the purple one with the Yahoo! paint scheme.

“This~~s~~the~Time~Sr~Sta~n”

At least it makes you feel like you are in a big city.

glorymachine

HAHAHA! Nothing is as funny as the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) here in Atlanta. It is a joke. I feel the same about your people mover like our MARTA system. Put in a few loops and drops and I’m in. Other than that, why get on a train that takes 2 hours to get somewhere when I can drive my SUV (not really I drive a car) and support Iraq and the Injustice League of Terrorism?

stormshadow

booty bass isnt detroit, Detroit techno is =) a few more years of solid electronic music fests and it detroit will be even MORE synonomous with electronic music, and not the cheezy candy raver crap.

on the subject of detroit “mass” transit, ive been using it to get back and forth to work and ill say we have THE WORST public transportation system in the world. if we had rickshaws running around the street it would be better than the people mover and the buses.

excellent concept. i think it should be continued with people from other cities.

mrshape

sorry this took so long to get here, randy.

when i hear the term booty bass… i think miami, luther campbell, etc. when i think detriot i think the birth of fatty deep techno bass that inspired a lot of UK electronica and dance music.

anyway, you’ve enlightened me to the sound and purpose of motown. i think this image of a young stevie wonder moves us towards an authentic old detriot.

no matter what people call music, it can define an era, a city and a lifestyle. while motown is detiot’s definitive past, i don’t think we’ve heard the end of it’s electronic future…

18 years ago, March 5, 2003
inman

Beautifully integrated Mr. Shape! I dig the type treatment as well. If I had to find any fault it would be that the blacks of lil’ wonder aren’t as saturated as those of the bg - but that’s pushing it. Excellent work!

randy

Working at Record Time (a Metro-Detroit record store with an extremely heavy electronic music clientele) for over 3 years tainted me (especially beings that was over 3 years ago). I’ve heard so many people speak so highly of Detroit’s electronic scene without any concept of what it actually is. Black kids living in near poverty picked up other peoples music in order to make something original (Carl Craig, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson). These guys were doing it for over 20 years before any white kids even noticed. Then all of a sudden it was super hip. Everyone and their brother was talking about “Detroit Techno.” When in actuality what the white kids were really interested in was going to massive parties (raves) and taking a bunch of pills. I was just so burned out on seeing these kids completely disregarding the fact that they were just hopping on a trend. All of them were convinced that they were there since the beginning. Sorry to rant like that, after being involved in the electronic scene (in one shape or another) for so long it really tears me up. I’m just an indie rock kid trying to be “real” yo.

fashionvictim

I really like this image, I think it’s the nicest one of this cnvs. yet. This feels more detroit to me, personally. (former michigander)

mrshape

thanks inman. that’s the kind of feedback i could really use, please keep it up and help me get better!

thanks for your personal account of the detroit scene randy, that’s really cool that you have seen it grow from such an early stage…can’t wait to see where we go from here…

randy

I’m taking it back a few steps by combining img1 and img3 (which is superb by the way). I had some trouble with this response because I wanted a nice, clean, and seemless merging of old versus new. Stevie Wonder, Derrick May, and the DEMF are attempting to mesh. Hopefully I pulled it off.

18 years ago, March 7, 2003
mrshape

cool! that is a great shot of the DEMF..with a few cameo appearances of course…

i have to ask..i see this dirty, scratchy effect on a lot ‘louges..is it a photoshop brush? filter? how is everyone pulling off the same effect? i think it was used sparingly and with good effect in this img.

i really like where you are taking this..i have my homework for the weekend randy..thanks..

stormshadow

i like where this is headed, but i think there is a lot more to talk about when it comes to detroit. i guess i was expecting the detroit outsiders to think of detroit as a hellish crime-ridden city, but perhaps things are looking up for our little burg.

keep up the good work

inman

Nice work.

Nocturna brushes get a lot of airplay here. I guess the site is going down soon so if you’re interested I would grab ‘em now.

Personally, I don’t see a reason for their use on this particualr image. I think it’s strong enough without the scratches.

randy

I completely agree Inman. I kinda cheated by using it on this img (and now I regret it). I originally felt the foreground/background weren’t going together well and I applied the brush to get a better blend. I know these brushes are definitely overused but I was just a little insecure with the image’s lack of seemlessness and felt it needed something, probably because I was starring at it for too many hours.

mrshape

thanks for the brush tip inman…like all tools, the conceptual and aesthetic result is the key…always looking to expand that toolbox…

the scratches don’t bother me..my perception on detroit has been great music and cars…dirty city. this follows in the image 04 for me…

i think the reason it may not feel seemless in this image is that the light and shadows of the guys in the forground with sunglasses are cast in opposite directions.

mrshape

now that i’ve arranged this, i feel kinda dirty :)

the sound, the city, the discussion..here’s a tip o the hat to the nocturna brushes…i used a few and made some of my own. the future of detroit is about building on the past and inventing the future. changing perceptions, sounds and images.

the process. i call it pretty music, but..some people think it’s dirty.

18 years ago, March 11, 2003
jeromius

I think the gratuitous use of the dirty brushes works well with this image (sorry, I’m the one who introduced them to randy).

Detroit is, well, dirty. I’ll agree. But it’s getting better. I think this DSNLG has really brought out some good Detroit related imagery - keep it up!

mrshape

thx jeromius..i was hoping that the dirty wouldn’t come off wrong. i figured there’d never be a better time to experiment. with the chatter about a dirty detroit and my curiousity with the dirty brushes…

it was fun making my own brushes, too! i think as this DSNLG continues to evolve i am going to try a visual take of the grit of the city fusing with the clean sounds of techno…but let’s see where randy takes the conversation first…

jeromius

you should come and experience Detroit sometime - the DEMF is coming up (oh wait, I forgot, they RENAMED it to something stupid like “Movement 2003”) - Detroit is a cool town, and it’s cool to see how someone not from here interprets it.

mrshape

jer, i’d love to visit, it’s march and it’s already 80+ it’ll be 100 degrees by the end of april…maybe i’ll find a freelance gig out there and fly in to see you guys.. :)

bearskinrug

I have a question, mrshape…does this read ’Some people think it’s dirty. (I call it pretty music but…)’ or is it the other way around?

mrshape

yeah bearskin..i am a big fan of multiple reads so a lot of times it’s open for interpretation.

but since you asked: my favorite take is first: “i call it pretty music but…” (coming from the previous two image/conversations into this one) with the new idea that second: “some people think it’s dirty” referring to the city but using the word the music as a metaphor for the city which could be considered pretty or dirty…based on perceptions of detroit.

as a side note in design history and michigan, a product of nearby detroit..in bloomfield hills there’s an art school called cranbrook that spent the early 90’s exploring the layering of image, text and meaning…that multiple reads were desirable and made the communication more rich. they proposed that you see text as much as you read it. that text can communicate by visual appearance, it think that the presentation of the word “pretty” slowly degrading into dirty as the conversation has unfolded also lends itself to the idea that detroit has become “pretty dirty” :) or dirty in an endearing sort of way…you choose.

bearskinrug

That’s an interesting concept. I myself have actually been moving away from type treatments that confuse the message or don’t sufficiently support the imagery (probably from having to do so much direct marketing). Not that I can’t appreciate expanding the role of type as you are here. I look forward to applying your thoughts in a future designologue (ahem…)

mrshape

i’ll get that fired up tonight bearskin…there definitely a place for ‘mixed messages’ but direct mail is NOT one of them :)

randy

I tried to be honest in my response, here’s the result. The building in the image is Michigan Central Station. It’s been abandoned for quite a few years and is testament to the great architecture still present in downtown Detroit. A lot of suburban kids (self-proclaimed urban explorers) sneak in to the MCS to take photos. It’s sort of the “hip” thing to do in Detroit, that is, sneak into abandoned buildings and either spray paint, break some windows, or take pictures. In the big picture this building represents what Detroit is. It’s a place to voyeur but not a place to take action in change. If all the kids that go in MCS donated a few hundred dollars from their parents bank accounts to preserve and revitalize the building and its legacy would it still stand in this decay?

18 years ago, March 14, 2003
jeromius

Michigan Central Station

It’s a beautiful building, and I really wish they would do something with it. I guess it says a lot about what Detroit once was, as well as what it has become.

I’m one of the many “explorers” who have visited it, as well as several other buildings in the Detroit area. Above is a link to a site I had up that documented my voyage (sorry, but the stylesheets are jacked on it right now - I’ll fix it soon).

randy

Here’s the most recent article I could find relating to what currently is in the minds of both the city and the owner of MCS.

jeromius

There has been a lot of debate over what is going to happen with the station - there was a book written by Kelli B. Kavanaugh - Images of America: Detroit’s Michigan Central Station - which came out in 2001. It gives some insight as to what the future of the building holds, the most promising was a vision to make it a trade and commerce center.

Fact is, it cost $$$ to bring these buildings back to their former glory and as long as the developers and city council continue to bitch about property, things will continue to fall apart.

Man, I can hardly wait until we host the SuperBowl in ‘06. I really want to see how they are going to turn things around by then.

randy

It also costs millions to implode a building of this size. A developer interested in preserving and revitalizing the old Hudson building into loft space purposed plans to the city slightly exceeding the expected costs for destroying it. Look what happened. Detroit has a nasty history of turning its back on these beautiful structures. It’s very sad.

As far as the Super Bowl is concerned I think the city is planning on spending 6 million in beautifying a section of land and roads connecting Metro Airport to Ford Field. I don’t think any other plans (aside from the contractual obligation for the casinos to build hotel space which of course means more destruction of historical landmarks) were made. Basically the city is just fixing what they have to and hiding the rest.

mrshape

nice. a fresh response i wasn’t expecting…thanks randy!

jeromius

I wonder if they will go all Hollywood and build elaborate fronts for buildings just to make them “look nice” — I think this was done in Russia where they faked an entire town just to get funding for some project.

And as for destroying buildings, I would so much rather see a building restored to it’s former glory than destroyed.

I watched as they imploded the Hudson building - it was really sad, and I don’t want to go through seeing another historic landmark brought to the ground.

Detroit’s problem is it’s current city government - nobody knows what the hell is going on, I wish Archer was still around, because he got shit done - but the cold dead grip of Coleman Young is still apparent.

randy

Where’d you go mrshape?

inman

I just saw him. Maybe he’s back. I miss Detroit - even though I’ve never been.

mrshape

hi randy..sorry for the delay..ran across this flyer which reminded me we have a show to finish!

17 years ago, August 12, 2003
inman

Ah, back to the original misconception. I’m digging the type treatment here, definitely evocative of club flyers.

My only complaint is the use of image number (I’m sure Shapes has something more interesting to say) and the suspect use of the stamp tool. It would have been cool if you found a free stock photo of an overcast sky and masked it to the crumbled building. And I’m not really feeling the horizontal/vertical mirror images.

DJ Randy taking it out…

mrshape

inman, as always with some solid takes, thx much. don’t hold back.

custom type, it was a fun exploration..stamp tools are fun too..for billowing clouds from the crumbled building ..a bit more care could be taken i suppose? (maybe if we go to the tree directory in DSNLG v.4 i can revist them..it’d be cool to revisit previous DSNLG’s and build variations off them) i like the stock add-in idea, too.

this one is a bit image heavy concept light..all about having fun really.

as for the circle…mrshape loves circles. :)

randy

Subtle. Humourous. Promotional. Taking a step back to my original comment on the “rave” association within Detroit and thereby ending this well drawn out DSNLG.

17 years ago, August 29, 2003
jeromius

Nice self-promotion with the Document sticker in the lower left-hand corner.

Joe Louis’ fist will knock your bitch-ass out of Detroit!

randy

Ahh yeah. Psst, Document.

bharper

clever.

Aarseth

Wow, that’s really cool. Did you alter that fist/arm somehow, or is that just the sculpture? Nice just with the “raves must stop”.

randy

It’s just a sculpture downtown in the CBD. It’s Joe Louis’ fist, Joe Louis Arena is the stadium the Red Wings play in.

jeromius

The Joe Louis Sculpture!

This fist will knock you on yo’ ass!

*In Detroit, Michigan, at the downtown intersection of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues, there is an amazing monument to Louis: a 24 foot long, 8,000 pound bronze sculpture of his outstretched arm and fist. Suspended atop a 24-foot pyramid of four beams, the monument was unveiled on October 16, 1986. Robert Graham, a Californian sculptor, was the artist. The larger-than-life fist cost $350,000 and was a gift to the city of Detroit from Sports Illustrated magazine for the 100th anniversary of the Detroit Institute of Arts. *