In its fourth year, CAMP Detroit [Community Arts Moving Projects] has once again challenged “creators to make pieces that reflect the heart & future of Detroit” during Memorial Day weekend, AKA Movement weekend. CAMP chose seven large-scale installations to be featured during the internationally-known music festival providing a huge audience to the inspiring and playful works. PLAYGROUND DETROIT spoke to artist Ellen Rutt and Patrick Ethen, two of the six designers and architects in the team that created this magical installation.

The Good-Time Light-Hearted Lean Peaks are a series of three, nine-foot-tall wooden pyramids that served as leaning surfaces and resting places throughout the Movement festival.  At night, the volumes illuminate from within, pulsing in response to audio from nearby stages and setting the scene for a dance extravaganza. The exterior surface of each pyramid is painted to have it’s own unique personality, through a variety of techniques ranging from simple, soothing gradients to intricate and complex patterning.

The Lean Peaks are a true synthesis of art, architecture and music and an excellent example of creative collaboration in the city. Installed in the amphitheater near the pyramid stage, the pyramids provided an incredible electrifying environment, allowing attendees to discover this ‘cavernous space’ and take a break from the massive crowds or dance between the large objects to create their own synesthetic experience.

Why is it important to support these installations/public art at a music festival? CAMP believes that,

“…the continued progress of Detroit may be augmented through the exhibition of the region’s exemplary creative talent on the global stage. The CAMP (Community Arts Moving Projects) program aims to facilitate this by giving Detroit artists, makers and thinkers the opportunity to create beautiful and inspired projects that will be displayed at Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival before they are relocated into neighborhoods.”

Lovers ‘lean’ on the structure as they embrace. Photo credit, PLAYGROUND DETROIT.

What was the inspiration for the Lean Peaks?

There were some very specific criteria that helped to shape the project: strength, ease of assembly, and a tiny shoestring budget- but ultimately as a team, our primary goal was to make objects that are fun to build and fun to experience. I think we were quite successful- there’s a multiplicity of ideas in the Lean Peaks that makes them easy to relate with. It’s art… but it’s not art. You can touch them. You can lean against them. You can sit, recline, chill, twerk, climb [not recommended], and generally get physical with some larger-than-life glowing pyramids. Below are some original sketches of the concept, build and layout. 

Why did you apply to participate in CAMP?

Participating in CAMP is an excellent way to get exposure on a scale that’s typically inaccessible to designers at our age. It’s also a great learning experience- we see these installations through from design concept to completion, and in the process we figure out how to manage, budget, procure, fabricate, and work as a team. I should also mention that CAMP awards free weekend passes to the artists, which is a huge draw for a team that has as many skilled dancers as we do.

The team that brought the Lean Peaks to life consists of Patrick Ethen, Ellen Rutt, Alan Sedghi, Simon Anton, Eiji Jimbo, and Rachel Mulder. [In photo above. photo credit by the Team.]

Patrick Ethen works freelance as an architect by day in order to support a growing body of immersive installation work as an artist and designer by night. A recent day job, Patrick’s work with the architecture firm LAMAS was shortlisted for 2014 MoMA’s PS1 architecture competition. 

Ellen Rutt moved to Detroit where she now happily lives and works after graduating from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. From 9-5 Monday-Friday, she designs print advertisements at Doner Ad Agency; from 5 and beyond, she can be found at her art studio exploring mixed media collages, and occasionally painting on walls. A relentless Detroit art enthusiast, Ellen has exhibited at the Red Bull House of Art, Inner State Gallery and Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit among others, and holds the record for creating the worlds longest hopscotch down 4 miles of Woodward in downtown Detroit.

Alan Sedghi is one of the group’s three West Bloomfield natives, spends his days freelancing in digital web design/ media production and his nights as a bedroom studio musician. He looks forward to exploring the intersection of digital media and the built environment with his friend friends.  Alan’s solo project Humons released its first EP album titled Being in October 2013. Being was included in Detroit Music Magazine’s Top Albums of 2013.

Eiji Jimbo, Simon Anton, and Rachel Mulder make up three of the four members of Thing Thing – a manufacturing studio practicing in Detroit. Established in 2012, Thing Thing designs processes to work intuitively with materials and methods usually reserved for industrial production. And through this unique authorship develop their sensibilities as a practice. Thing Thing makes experimental design for exhibitions, collectors, and consumers. 

[Photo credit CAMP Tumblr]

[Photo credit by Eric Preston.]

CAMP 2014 was sponsored by Opportunity Detroit, Omnicorps Detroit, Recycle Here, and Corktown Studios.



“YEAH YOY, Foch,”  Louis Casinelli & Andrew Thompson

YEAH YOY, Foch is an organically abstract sculpture that people can interact with on simple, yet playful terms. Felled tree trunks create the horizontal base that allows people to sit and socialize, accented with recessed lighting and stretch lycra fabric. The name “YEAH YOY, Foch” references the sculpture’s decorative surface and lighting inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama and the the Foch neighborhood on Detroit’s eastside where the tree forms were sourced.

Reflection Portal, John Rizzo &  William Tyrrell

The reflection portal is a place for people traveling from one area to another to experience an alternate perception.  The reflections of the surrounding area gives an alternate surreal experience to those passing through presenting a distortion of what would normally be seen.  

Additional artist works from CAMP 2014:

DYSTOPIAN DISCO: SONIC CRYSTALS, Bethany Shorb and Kip Ewing, 2014

Ernst: King of Cats, Sean Hages 

Amity, Eddy Bullock

Pharos3, Wil Tyrrell