‘Dlectricity’ to dazzle with the simple and complex

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Like moths, we’re drawn to the light.

So the return of “Dlectricity“ Friday and Saturday, Detroit’s nighttime festival of light and art, could hardly be more welcome. The biennial festival, inspired by the “white nights” in cities like Paris and New York, launched to huge acclaim in 2012, drawing some 75,000 to Midtown — despite the fact that it rained both nights.

This year, local and international artists have created 39 art-and-light installations that will stretch from the Detroit Institute of Arts, whose facade will act as a backdrop for a 3-D projection, down to Orchestra Hall, where a live video featuring the Pops performance going on within, “Let’s Dance,” will screen every night at 8 p.m.

Local artists creating pieces include the staff at Mindfield as well as Osman Khan, an artist who teaches at the University of Michigan, and has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art and other local venues.

Taking the former first, Mindfield, which co-owner Dave Carleton describes as a “creative boutique media company,” will have put up one of the most-visible projects in all of Midtown.

“P.O.V.,” or point of view, will feature 3-D projections on the marble facades of two of Detroit’s most venerable buildings, the DIA and the Detroit Public Library right across Woodward.

Mindfield creative director Mike Dryden explains that a total of six linked and synchronized mega-watt projectors will be controlled by “a very expensive playback device” that juggles video, audio and lighting.

The whole show runs about six minutes on an endlessly repeating loop. The storyline is intriguingly high concept — basically, how external influences mold how we see the world — but Dryden promises it will be “an emotional roller coaster with real peaks and valleys.”

If “P.O.V” is a high-tech, extraordinarily complex creation, Osman Khan’s “House” in the sculpture garden at the College for Creative Studies, by contrast, promises Zen-like simplicity.

The work amounts to the outline of a basic house — “just like what a kid draws,” Khan says, “a box with a triangle on top,” where the walls and roof are sketched out with long fluorescent bulbs.

It’s all about house as symbol, Khan notes, and grew out of both the mortgage crisis and his own dumbfounded reaction when first introduced to Detroit’s decimated neighborhoods.

In Khan’s view, the house acts as both a proxy for the American Dream, as well as an anguished symbol of private losses associated with the 2008 collapse.

“I got the idea of the house being fragile,” he says, “but the home being resilient.” It gives things a positive twist, and when you think about it, isn’t a bad metaphor for the city of Detroit itself.



7 p.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.

Midtown from Warren Avenue south to Parsons Street