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Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit

Post-Industrial Complex (May 11- July 29, 2012) is an exhibition and source book that celebrates the ingenuity and adaptivity of the Detroit community. This multidisciplinary exhibition, comprised of locally made objects and recorded interviews with makers, proposes a conversation about the meaning and value of personal labor in Detroit. From the half-baked idea to a life’s work, from the janky fix to a potentially world-changing solution, the spirit of invention takes center stage.

Programming includes a trading post, how-to sessions, exhibition tours led by community members and barbeques in the back parking lot. This exhibition is organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Curator of Public Engagement Jon Brumit and Curator of Education Katie McGowan.

Major support for Post-Industrial Complex is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Related programming support is provided by the McGregor Fund and Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation.

Post-industrial Complex

Custom Speakers

ba-b&l (11111011100)

Exhibition Opening

ba-b&l is a sound installation, originally created and shown in 2001 that utilizes digital recordings from texts about the development of language in ancient Mesopotamia. The texts have been sliced into the most basic elements of language – the building blocks that are used to construct words. These phonemes are layered in order to create a real time mix between 5 sets of custom designed/built speakers. The texts are appropriated and reworked from Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash”, published in 1992. This seminal work of cyberpunk deals with history, linguistics, anthropology, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics, and philosophy.


For Post-Industrial Complex, we wanted to rework ba-b&l. The original 2001 work focused on the internal interactions between the audience’s auditory and analytic processes, which were engaged in deciphering the babble to make meaning. With the 2012 iteration we wanted to explore the capacity for the audience to now physically interact with the work in a way that triggers the intact texts to be played. As a studio, we work through a process of researching issues, materials, and technologies. We have an interest in the use of new technologies, materials and methods to encourage interaction and engagement with audiences. ba-b&l  fuses our interests in art, language, design and our socio-cultural relationship with technology.

ba-b&l (11111011100)

The exhibition contributes to the current conversation about the role contemporary institutions play within their communities. Here the museum culls the craft and intellect from surrounding neighborhoods to create an exhibition that is uniquely engaged in its surroundings. Post-Industrial Complex includes work from: Fred Ellison, Evelyn Pinkard, FOUR Colors Productions, Dozer, Aisling Arrington & Jill Bersche, Bill Kozy, James Aquash, Walter Bailey, Angela Kiel, rootoftwo, Mr. Motin, Anthony Reale. The exhibition interrogates the roles and responsibilities of institutions and citizens to their communities, and proposes new possibilities for communicating, organizing and valuing labor.

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