News & Events


rootoftwo: Post-Industrial Complex at MoCAD

May 9, 2012

ba-b&l (11111011100), a new piece by rootoftwo (A&D Assistant Professor John Marshall and Cezanne Charles), is featured in the POST-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX exhibition at MOCAD, May 11 - July 29, 2012.

May 11 - July 29, 2012 at MoCAD

Post-Industrial Complex 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.

About the work: ba-b&l (11111011100) 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.

About rootoftwo: rootoftwo is a hybrid art and design studio co-directed by John Marshall and Cezanne Charles. John Marshall, PhD is an assistant professor in the School of Art & Design and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. Cezanne Charles is director of creative industries at ArtServe Michigan. They have been collaborating since 1998 to make experimental objects and experiences that challenge assumptions, undermine expectations and reveal conventional behavior.

rootoftwo’s work derives from their interests and observations related to how context informs and transforms behavior, interactions and relationships. Works engage both audience and context as a result. Whether through the creation of art, social objects, experiences, or works in the public realm, they create opportunities to reframe systems, infrastructures, and networks. rootoftwo’s works specifically attempt to disrupt and undermine the systems at work through humor, play, interaction and participation. Their works create a condition where we can perceive ourselves, the here and now, and the future differently. They have presented work in Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.


rootoftwo: Post-Industrial Complex at MoCAD