Movement can be downright exhausting. It’s a nonstop three-day rave of carnie food, face paint, furry boots, glow sticks, and some of the best damn electronic music the world has to offer. So what happens when you start feeling that mid-festival fatigue set in? One group of young artists and architects are creating what they hope will be the solution to a lack of resting areas at the festival.
Six Detroit-based University of Michigan alums who call themselves the Good-Time Team are setting up an installment of audio responsive, interactive “lean peaks,” aka really fucking huge psychedelic pyramids that illuminate in sync with music from nearby stages. The Good-Time Team is composed of Alan Sedghi (local electrofusion artist Humons), Eiji Jimbo, Ellen Rutt, Rachel Mulder, Simon Anton, and Patrick Ethen.
Every year since 2011, CAMP (Community Arts Moving Projects) Detroit has funded large-scale art installations at the music festival, some of which are interactive and some of which are crowd-drawing eye candy. This year at least one of those pieces will offer somewhere to either rest your weary head or keep dancing until the batteries go dead.
“The concept behind it is that there aren’t enough resting places at Movement,” says Rutt. “There’s so much activity. So what we are creating are called “lean peaks” because you can actually, physically lean on them and be both surrounded by music, surrounded by lights, and have a moment to just sort of chill out and rest or dance with them. But they provide an oasis in this high-activity environment.”
Rutt and Ethen sit beside each other on a vintage floral sofa in their living room, Rutt with her legs crossed and Ethen with his arm slung over the backrest. Their dog jumps onto the couch and nestles in the small wedge between them.
“I feel like we’re doing this because it’s a really good opportunity to make something and have it shown on a very large scale to a lot of people,” says Ethen. “We’re more excited about making something cool than getting paid.”
The process from drafting to installing is a long one, starting back in February for this particular project. According to Rutt, the team received the application information from CAMP Detroit and then began sketching out plans for their Movement display. After being chosen to participate, CAMP Detroit offered the team $2,900 in funding, nearly twice the amount that artists were given last year.
Ethen thinks this budget increase will allow for bigger, flashier, and more durable pieces. “We’re doing stuff this year that we couldn’t have done last year, for sure,” says Ethen. He along with current team members Anton, Jimbo, and Mulder exercised their imaginations at last year’s Movement as well, creating a piece known as the Good-Time Floral-Bloom Spatial-Equalizer Canopy, a shimmering audio-responsive light and color hanging installation.
Even though the work is not for profit, all of the artists find value in it. Ethen, now a three-year veteran of the program, thinks that participating in the process has been life-changing for him, honing a set of skills that he’ll be able to use throughout his career.
“As young architects, it’s difficult to get a job,” he admits. “When the economy took a hit for a while … people were losing their jobs all over the place, and getting a job right out of architecture school was very, very, very difficult. So doing these side projects allows you to get all types of experience managing a project, working with a budget, working with real-world constraints, seeing your project through from design conception to actually being involved in a design-build scenario.”
“It’s a type of experience that’s much cheaper than school,” he continues. “You maybe arguably get more out of it than an entry-level architecture job, and so learning and growing through this project is a big part of it for me.”
Rutt, on the other hand, is a newcomer who believes that she’s gained something artistically valuable from the experience. “It’s been an enormous learning curve for me because I don’t work in 3-D very often — or ever really. So being part of that process … is really eye-opening, and it’s definitely going to influence my work in ways that I can’t foresee.”
Now that you know about its creators, you’re probably wondering what the hell is going to happen with these structures after Movement? According to Rutt, as part of the negotiation for their funding, their trippy tombs will take up residence near the Quicken Loans headquarters for five months. After that, who knows?
However, it’s obvious that this won’t be the last Detroit will see of the Good-Time gang. “We’re all available on commission and freelance basis, and we’re all extremely good-looking,” Ellen says with a chuckle.
Additionally, Ethen has advice for those who want to participate in next year’s festival. “You have to believe in yourself,” he says. “It maybe sounds cheesy, but we only had one month to build [the installation] … No one really holds your hand, and that’s terrifying. But if you can pull it off, it’s more rewarding than anything you can possibly imagine in your entire life.”