The Future Is NOW: "Stephanie Dinkins: On Love & Data" at U-M Stamps Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Stephanie Dinkins, Secret Garden (Detail)

Stephanie Dinkins, Secret Garden (detail). Image courtesy Stamps Gallery.

“Binary calculations are inadequate to assess us,” states transmedia artist Stephanie Dinkins, and she approaches AI and technology with this premise in mind.

Her work is a constant unsettling and renegotiation of current technological and social power systems, achieved by asking audiences to consider and create what she calls "NOW." Through her concept of Afro-now-ism, she proposes a collaborative project in which audience members work to dismantle normative, often violent technological structures and build new, inclusive ones.

The Stamps Gallery's Stephanie Dinkins: On Love & Data is the first sur­vey of works by this artist "who cre­ates plat­forms for dia­logue about arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence as it inter­sects race, gen­der, aging, and our future histories.” She makes interactive works that tell us our futures begin now, so we must work to create the world we wish to see.

At the front of the gallery space, a 2021 work titled Afro-now-ism welcomes visitors into the space. A large neon sign reads "AFRO-NOW-ISM," with the words "NOW" and "OWN" illuminated in yellow and intersecting the bright purple and red of "AFRO-NOW-ISM," creating a cross-like design. The gallery wall text illuminates the work:

Theatre Nova's "The Lifespan of a Fact" is a compelling issue play built on a lopsided debate

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Theatre Nova's The Lifespan of a Fact

Left to right: Diane Hill as Emily Penrose, Justin Montgomery as Jim Fingal, and Andrew Huff as John D'Agata in The Lifespan of a Fact by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Murrell, directed by Carla Milarch at Theatre NOVA. Photography by Sean Carter Photography.

During a set change in Theatre Nova’s first live, in-person production in front of an audience since March 2020, a stage crew duo flipped and turned an office desk to reveal a fluffy couch.

As this metamorphosis played out on the Yellow Barn’s stage Saturday night, the audience—masked and seated in spread-out chairs—ooooh-ed and gasped in delighted surprise. 

I’m clearly not the only one who’s been pining for little hits of theater magic during this pandemic.

Friday Five: Kat Steih, Alex Belhaj's Crescent City Quintet, Loamsy, Luca Miel, Cashmere Washington

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 09-17-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features rock and pop from Kat Steih, New Orleans jazz by Alex Belhaj's Crescent City Quintet, dance mixes by Loamy and Luca Miel, and emo-shoegaze-soul via Cashmere Washington.

 

Featuring Iggy Pop: A compilation of James Osterberg Jr.'s duets & collaborations

MUSIC

Iggy Pop at his wedding at the home of Jimmy Silver, manager of The Stooges, 1969. Photo by Peter Yates.

Iggy Pop at his wedding at the home of Jimmy Silver, manager of The Stooges, 1969. Photo by Peter Yates.
 

Iggy Pop is known for his outrageous stage antics, groundbreaking music, and massive influence on punk rock.

The Ypsi-Arbor native who was born James Newell Osterberg Jr. should also be known as a man who doesn't say no.

Ever.

Need someone to croon on your single? Tell Iggy the time and place and if he needs to wear a shirt.

Need a deep voice to sing-speak words over your music? Mr. Pop will suddenly appear in the studio, tap you on the shoulder, and say, "May I?"

Iggy even performed "Silent Night" with William Shatner—the. man never. says. nah.

I started thinking about Pop's predilection for partnerships after his latest collaboration hit my inbox.

Hammond B3 player Dr. Lonnie Smith is a master of soul jazz, which is not the first genre you would associate with Pop. Probably not even the last genre. But "Move Your Hand" is a single from Smith's latest Blue Note album, Breathe, and it features Pop riding the funky groove by sing-talking through a simple set of lyrics. 

This song follows two other 2021 Pop collaborations: He provided vocals on an alternate version of "I Wanna Be Your Slave" by Italian rock band Måneskin and repeats one word on the garage-rock single "I, Moron" by English duo The Lovely Eggs. (Iggy: "You need me to say 'moron' in 16 different ways? I got you.")

And as I was writing the above paragraphs, I discovered yet another new collaborative Pop effort came out: "European Son" with Matt Sweeney as featured on the new album I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico.

No is not a word Ig knows.

Aside from his work with fellow Ann Arborites the Ashton brothers in The Stooges, Pop's most famous collaboration was with David Bowie, who produced his 1977 albums The Idiot and Lust for Life. Pop also had a big hit in 1990 with "Candy" featuring The B-52s' Kate Pierson from his album Brick by Brick

In 1989, he joined the charity-single bandwagon many years after that was a thing by singing on "Spirit of the Forest," with the likes of Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, and ... Olivia Newton-John, among many others ... to benefit the Earth Love Fund foundation. Then followed that up by participating in a truly awful, Lenny Kravitz-produced, superstar-soaked cover of "Give Peace a Chance" in 1991. (Somehow never single achieved the same cultural saturation as "We Are the World" and "Do They Know It's Christmas?")

But there are numerous other collaborations in Pop's career that feature him working with lesser-known or more esoteric artists, some of whom just sample his voice from interviews. I'm sure Iggy doesn't mind. He says yes to everything.

Below you'll find a selection of those recordings—oui, there are a lot of tunes in French—starting with the most recent.

Michigan Marching Band puts on impressive display memorializing 9/11

MUSIC

I spent a lot of time in downtime Ann Arbor on Friday and Saturday, and the town was buzzing with energy for the second Michigan Wolverines home football game of the 2021 season.

The streets were full of students clad in maize-and-blue casual wear as countless khaki-shorted, running-shoe-wearing Michigan Dads carried M Den bags.

I was excited to watch the game, too, but not necessarily for the football. It was because I read a story on September 8 titled "Michigan Marching Band commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11 with ‘most spectacular halftime show to date.'"

I wanted to see the band, which has only performed twice at a football game since 2019 due to the pandemic, put on a huge show, full of pagentry and making full use of this being one of the few U-M football games to happen at night.

But instead of showing the halftime tribute at the stadium, the TV broadcast featured commercials plus highlights of games by, like, Southeastern Northern Alabama State College vs. Eastern Christian Southern Methodist Commonwealth University as loud men talked loudly over the video clips.

Thankfully, the marching band's spectacular presentation—which included remarkable choreography accompanied by lasers, glowing orbs, and high-powered flashlights—is now on YouTube.

Friday Five: Big Vic, Ma Baker, Stormy Chromer, Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack, David Matthew

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 09-10-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features punky shoegaze from Big Vic, live jams from Ma Baker and Stormy Chromer, grungy rock from Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack, and meditative percussion by David Matthew.

 

U-M Professor David Potter looks at history and politics to understand radical change in his new book, "Disruption"

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

David Potter and his book Disruption

“How do things change?” asks David Potter, a University of Michigan professor, in his new book, Disruption

This question is the basis for his in-depth examination of five groundbreaking periods in history: Christianity’s growth, the rise of Islam, the Protestant Reformation, popular sovereignty, and the political theorists Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer. The five chapters collectively span thousands of years and Potter sews together history, biography, and political thought to illustrate how ideas disrupt existing beliefs and structures. 

This kind of radical change, according to Potter, arises from fringe ideas that go against the existing state of affairs with a thought leader at the forefront. Many centuries ago, political structures that are foundational to government as we know it now had yet to be defined. For example, amid the rise of Islam when Ali ibn Abi Talib, a relative of the prophet Muhammad, was assassinated in 661, Potter writes:

Kenyatta Rashon explores "The Art of Keeping It Real" on her accomplished debut album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Kenyatta Rashon in a green hoodie

Photo by Kyla McGrath

Ypsilanti singer and songwriter Kenyatta Rashon showcases a polished R&B sound spiced up with some hip-hop accents on her terrific debut album, The Art of Keeping It Real.

Rashon has a distinctive singing voice, both expressive and powerful. And her songs are uniformly strong, with memorable melodies and vibrant lyrics. “YoFi” and “W.rong” express regrets for lost love, while “I am” and “H4L” are anthems of self-empowerment. The single “Free” establishes a great summer listening vibe over wistful and wise lyrics: “Some things could change and some things could not / But I made peace with the things I got / I’m free”

Rashon answered a few questions about the album for Pulp.

Friday Five: Hannah Baiardi, Druzi Baby, Tom Smith, Bennett / Endahl / Sutherland, Atlas the Kid

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 09-03-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features sophisti-pop by Hannah Baiardi, hip-hop from Druzi Baby and Atlas the Kid, comedy-rock from Tom Smith, and a sax-synths-drums improvisation by Bennett / Endahl / Sutherland.

 

UMMA's "Claim Your Space" campaign encourages people to find their place at the museum

VISUAL ART FILM & VIDEO

UMMA's Claim Your Space

Ostensibly, the "Claim Your Space" promo video was made to highlight the University of Michigan Museum of Art's extending its Thursday through Sunday hours starting Sept. 7 and a new effort to attract people to the building.

But the video isn't just an ad for UMMA; it's a work of art that stands by itself and shows off the immense creative talent of the U-M students who made it.