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DETROIT — I am not a car guy. There I said it. I live in Michigan, work in Detroit and I am not a car guy. I cannot tell a catalytic converter from a hemi — I am not even sure if those are real words. Nevertheless, I went to the North American International Auto Show (“NAIAS”) to view the spectacle. I had a strange fear that at any moment someone would grab me and give me a pop quiz about cars. That fear quickly subsided when I was swept up in this showcase of tremendous artistic talent. The artistic directors that create the various exhibition spaces create thrilling light and video installations.
Before I get to the installations, I have a couple thoughts about car design. I believe in the last few years there has been a tremendous amount of progress in car design — especially by the Big Three. There is a renewed focus on car design: A car has to look good. In fact, every detail of a car has to look aesthetically pleasing. So now we have a wider variety of shapes and colors, from the outside to the leather interiors. Car designers are experimenting with texture, and there is a focus on dynamic lines throughout the exterior that often flows into the interior. You get the sense that some of the vehicles were just carved out of clay — you can see the artist’s hand scraping away to create sharp angles that establish a feeling that the car could take off at any moment.
But the cars were almost secondary to me when I finished my walk through. I was initially drawn to BMW’s light display. The backdrop for their vehicles was a large video screen wall that displayed a collage of individual athletes in singular moments of exertion. Yet what initially appeared to be merely a light tunnel roof that leads to the screen was actually a continuation of the screen. One example of when this environment was particularly successful was when a fencer lunged forward with his sword. The fencer’s arm and the sword stretched across the ceiling for a stunning affect. This was a great introduction to the NAIAS.
I then walked by various other displays that were typical of auto show booths: there were straightforward videos of cars racing and a model on a podium described why this particular car is the greatest and most advanced.
There were also other displays that tried too hard to be hip and most ended up creating an unusual atmosphere that I can only describe as seeing flashy cars in a Japanese restaurant.
But then I walked into the world of Ford, which provided by far the best visual displays. Ford’s exhibition space transported viewers to a unique environment where they easily wowed more than the other car companies. You initially come across two large green circles on the ground in front of a wall that displays a video. The video at first gives boilerplate information about the various cars around you. When you step on the center of the circle you broadcast on the big screen nearby. Then the screen shows a race car spinning circles around you — a fun video game-like experience and a nice introduction to Ford’s space.
You then walk under a futuristic bar where people are peering down blue and white ovals to the showroom floor. As of a sudden, you realize that you are in the center of an elaborate video and light display that frames the main area of Ford’s exhibition space. The imagery is mostly filmed from a vehicle looking out, so the experience of driving rather than the actual car is the focus. NAIAS is a busy and crowded event, yet Ford was able to create a peaceful environment in the midst of the convention.
This larger-than-life display of simple narratives shows the weaknesses of the other car company displays. Ford used its deep resources and provided a complicated environment, yet they also did a masterful job of editing so that viewers were not overwhelmed.
Ford framed the environment and gave simple imagery. There was also an interactive display where you were strapped into a seat on a circle platform that was launched to the ceiling, where it appeared to be a virtual reality screen. It looked like fun and I may have to return to experience that. Come to think of it, maybe I am a car guy.
The North American International Auto Show is taking place at Cobo Center (One Washington Blvd., Detroit, Michigan) until January 22.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…