Five Qs: Mindfield’s Mike Dryden on Participating in Midtown’s Dlectricity


tThe team at Mindfield — a film production and creative media firm in downtown Detroit — is in the midst of creating its first art installation, which will be displayed during the Dlectricity light festival in Midtown on Sept. 26-27. Mike Dryden, the company’s creative director, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the project and the work that’s gone into it.

t1. DDN: How’s the creative process coming along?

tMD: Many of the artists that are going to be represented at Dlectricity are name artists, (who have) their own visions. We’re being represented as Mindfield. What this means is that you have a great collection of technical people and talented artists in their own right coming together to make this happen. This isn’t just one person. This is a great group of people within the company and phenomenal partners outside of the company. We’ve got projectionists, lighting companies, and sound companies, all coming together to make this work. So this is really a tremendous group effort to make this project coming together.

t2. DDN: What will the project entail?

tMD: The installation itself is a 360-degree experience focusing on two projects, one on the (Woodward Avenue façade) of the Detroit Public Library and the other on the side of the Detroit Institute of Arts. What we set up to do when we were brainstorming this idea was that it wouldn’t be your typical projection mapping (project). Rather than just have a smoke-and-mirrors magic show with projection going on, we wanted to tell a story. So the basic concept of our piece explores what has influenced our moral structure, the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis — our likes, our dislikes, our prejudices — and sort of analyzing where those come from.

t3. DDN: How will you tell the story?

tMD: During the piece, we have two main characters, one on each building. One character represents a style of thinking that’s maybe more open ended and more holistic, and the other side represents a mindset that’s very heavily influenced by outside forces, pop culture, and the opinions of other people. As the show progresses, you can see physical and emotion changes in each character, which represent how — as a society — we internalize these messages and influences from the media and other outlets.

t4. DDN: How much work has gone into the installation?

tMD: We started back in July, so it’s been a long process. We’ve been taking baby steps, which I think is good, because it’s given us a lot of time to digest the concept ourselves. (After brainstorming and formulating the storyline), we made about 40 style frames for each key point of the story. We really looked at all of the architectural facets of the DIA and the library, seeing how we could use those to tell our story, use those as elements that the characters would interact with. We also had a company do a 3-D scan of both surfaces and import that data into our system here. (That allowed us to) choose the camera and projector positions that would be the most successful for the project. And from there, we began content creation. We filmed live actors on a green screen and utilized a lot of different (technologies).

t5. DDN: What inspired you to participate in this year’s festival?

tMD: A lot of it is just a further commitment to the city, a further involvement with the city. The partners who own Mindfield have made a great investment in (Detroit) with the purchase of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Building (castle structure at Grand River and Cass), which we’ll be moving into hopefully by the end of the year. But having the business downtown for over 10 years now, we've always gone to these installations. We went to Dlectricity the first year it happened. We're always trying to branch out to museums, see exhibits. We really wanted to be part of that, and we felt this was the year to make that jump.

tThe best thing about this project is it’s totally our brainchild. (It’s been) daunting at times, because it’s something that we're creating that exists simply for the sake of existing. But that’s also what I think it so refreshing. There's no end game to this. It’s something that we want people to observe and to emote to and have a reaction. And if we can do that, that makes it all the better.