Deth’s door 

In all its rusted splendor Detroit can still stoke the imagination — we're a city built of stone and chrome and sweat, a testament to the ultimate fusion of human and mechanical muscle that made the modern world. We are, after all, the city that created techno, so it's no real surprise that so many area artists over the years have been inspired by our industrial legacy.

That's the spirit that fuels DethLab's Machines That Feel, a one-night multimedia presentation at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. As designed by co-curators Michael Doyle and Bethany Shorb (aka DethLab) the show combines film and live music performances that seek to underscore our relationship with the tools we create. Machines will mark the Detroit debut of Reline 2, 18 short films created by "next wave" video artists, and will also include live music performances from the inventive electronica duo Spectral Mornings and the spooky yet danceable proto-new wave pop of 800 Beloved. Also making waves will be the trendsetting work of Cranbrook designer-in-residence Elliot Earls, a rock star in design circles, who will screen a short film about his original robotic instruments.

Doyle says the show is "using technology in different ways — fetishizing it to an extent — but all of these artists are using it as an enabler for exploring broader ideas or more human emotions."

For Doyle, the evening is also a sort of culmination of more than a decade of pushing boundaries as a graphic artist, lecturer, music promoter and vanguard of both the electronic Dorkwave Collective and the blog spot. The event can be viewed as a logical progression of the club-oriented events Dethlab has presented in the past (like the recent Sex and Sedition V at Oslo) by carrying them over into a gallery setting.

Doyle and Shorb were originally approached to create a segment for the Link Festival — a larger, similar event — but as they developed the concept, they decided to spin Machines That Feel into a special one-off that could stand on its own thematic strength.


Saturday, July 29, at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit; 313-899-2243.

Corey Hall is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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