Signal-Return March update

Arts / Article

By Megan O’Connell, Signal-Return, Inc

“Begin anywhere”, instructs American composer John Cage. In compiling an overview of the goings-on at Signal-Return, the swath of what we are actualizing looks so wide and seamless, it is challenging to know where to start. As a crossroads and meeting place, Signal-Return is thriving. Taking Cage’s words to heart, I begin this entry with an expression of gratitude to Alison Knowles, a friend and collaborator of Cage–currently celebrating the centenary of his birth−−for her generosity in staging a retrospective BEANS IN ART & VICE VERSA here and performing in our space. Her energies have continued to resonate. An unexpected extension of Cage’s and Knowles’ compositional strategies took the form of a sound piece, 20: 11-12, based on a year of daily observations by Emily Gustafson. Signal-Return helped to actualize the work as an artist’s multiple by assisting with jacket printing for the 12” vinyl record. The multiple was rolled out to accompany a live performance for the closing of No Object is an Island at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

Compositions of visiting New Jersey-based poet, Judy Rowe Michaels, were shared as the culmination of a dynamic evening workshop for Detroit High School English teachers facilitated by Terry Blackhawk, Director of InsideOut Literary Arts Project, held in our space last month. Signal-Return anticipates other ways to partner with and support this vital program, including a series of informal drop in teatimes for teachers to meet and brainstorm. It appears that we are now ‘on Detroit’s cultural map’, serving as a must-see destination for educators, students, curators, artists, designers, architects, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, collectors, and printers from within and beyond the city.

We believe the power of the printed message is forthrightly expressed via handset type/dies and hand-rendered compositions. Every process involving moveable type has a corollary in the digital realm. Students in our workshops thus, come away with a tangible understanding of the vocabularies and processes undergirding the software we use daily. To-date, we have partnered with WSU, Cranbrook Academy of Art, U of M, and CCS to offer workshops and enrich curricula through tours and presentations. Most recently, we have hosted architecture students from around the Midwest as a part of the EVOLVE conference, organized by students at Lawrence Technical University and are soon to sign-on Summer interns from nearby institutions.

Irrefutably, Signal-Return possesses an almost uncanny ability to invoke connections and hatch projects. A journalist visiting from Montreal spent the better part of a Saturday witnessing conversations that galvanize our role in the community. She reflects:

Many thanks again for letting me sit in on an afternoon at Signal-Return. It really was such a treat to encounter so many different people in one spot. Clearly the space is already a community hub−−congrats! […] And yes, I fell hard for Detroit. Hope to (signal) return in the very near future! It is auspicious that various groups of filmmakers have been continually documenting our progress at the press over the past several months. A recent short film produced by a local crew with an original soundtrack is viewable above. We anticipate that two more films will be released over the next few months, helping to promote the many components of the organization.

Signal-Return’s programming for spring includes the opening reception of our second exhibition, M1/DTW: ARTIFACTS AND IDENTITIES on Friday, April 6th, 6-9PM; the Detroit premiere of LINOTYPE THE FILM: In Search of the 8th Wonder of the World on April 11th, 8PM co-sponsored by AIGA Detroit, click here for the trailer; VANDERCOOK PRESS MAINTENANCE led by one of the foremost authorities in the field, Saturday, June 16th & Sunday, June 17th; and a drop-in Monotype Workshop for Kids on Saturday, May 12th, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Finally, please click here for the ‘Image of the Day’.