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March 24, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-24

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8A - Monday, March 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

SA - Monday, March 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Students fight to
'Take Back the RC'


East Quad residents
look to reinvigorate
old hall atmosphere
For the Daily
Late Sunday night, a group of
students painted a mural in the
basement of East Quad. They did
so without permission or approv-
al, but with a very specific vision
in mind. In big bold letters, they
wrote "the WORK OF ART IS A
Two days later, East Quad
maintenance staff painted overthe
mural. That same day, the Face-
book page "Take Back the RC" was
The page's title references the
2012-2013 renovations to East
Quad, which have given the dorms
an almost "hotel-like" atmosphere
(blank white walls, cushy chairs,
a law firm-esque dining hall, etc.).
Presently, there is a zero-tolerance
policy for wall murals atcEast Quad
- but that may be changing fairly
RC students are pushing for
a return to the old EQ commu-
nity, which was characterized by
underground music venues, paint-
covered walls and a generally
grungy ambiance. Without a suit-
able creation space though, many
students believe a suitable RC is
not possible. The Residential Col-
lege is in East Quad, but as of right
now, the two might not be inter-
Since the removal of the Christo
throughout EQ, presumably in the
middle of the night. The mainte-
nance staff has been quick to paint
over these new creations as well,
though not quick enough. Pictures
of the paintings were posted to
the "Take Back the RC" Facebook
page, which has accrued 350+1likes
and spurred an email from Profes-
sor Angela Dillard, Director of the
Residential College.
I had a chance to sit down with
the founders of the page and later,
the muralists themselves. (Both
the page founders and the mural-
ists wish to remain anonymous
while the projectcontinues.)

"We wanted to create some-
thing that had the chance to stay
up forever ... The purpose wasn't
just to send a message, it was to
make something that had the
potential to stay there as a piece of
The founders of the "Take Back
the RC" Facebook page explained
that the page wasn't created to
inspire or incite the painting of
murals, but rather to document
"We as a page are not encourag-
ing students to do anything. We
really want to avoid encouraging
people to vandalize things," one
The founders said that the page
is about "promoting an environ-
ment where RC students have the
ability to express themselves cre-
atively and freely."
According to them, this feeling
has not existed at all in the new
"The housing administration
sees (the new East Quad) as their
shining new object, whereas RC
students see this as more of a blank
They mentioned instances of
"completely harmless, completely
removable, completely non-per-
manent art that have gone up
around the building." These pieces
were promptly removed, usually
on the same day.
On March 19, just one day after
the launch of "Take Back the RC,"
Residential College director Ange-
la Dillard sent out an email to the
entire Residential College (stu-
dents, staff and faculty), address-
ing the murals and the movement.
Notably, Professor Dillard opened
with the line, "Every work of Art
is a scream for Freedom," which
was the quote included in the first
Dillard addressed the desire
for murals by referencing an
older "Guide to the RC" from the
1970s/'80s. The Guide detailed the
old process for creating murals in
East Quad. The procedure includ-
ed approval from both residents
and the Housing Coordinator,
restrictions on painting spaces and
the requirement that "only paint
can be used." Suffice to say, this
was not a zero tolerance policy.
Along with the optimistic
message, Professor Dillard also

addressed the use of murals as a
"We ought to be respectful of
our colleagues in Housing who are
charged with the maintenance of
our shared spaces, and we need to
be respectful of each other ... Fur-
ther acts, I'm afraid, will start to
look more like vandalism and I'm
worried about that dynamic that
oftenseemsto takethingstoo far."
The page founders said that the
'70s and '80s policy outlined in the
email "sounds reasonable," saying
they'd agree to this proposal if it
were proposed during negotia-
The students, however,
remarked, that the process
wouldn't be as easy as Dillard
implied in the email.'
"She came off as a little bit too
optimistic that we would be able to
easily reach a compromise. I'm not
sure any negotiations that might
occur would be that easy."
They said that the email's
positive tone may simply be an
appeasement method to prevent
other students from painting
future murals. Nevertheless, the
students remained cautiously opti-
mistic: "If we facilitate an open
conversation ... hopefully some-
thing will be reached that's going
to allow creation to occur in the
way thatcit did in old East Quad."
Looking toward the future,
a petition has been released on
the Facebook page detailing the
movement and the its goals. As
signatures are accumulated, the
founders are also in the process of
organizing a group to meet with
Dillard and University Housing
Likewise, the muralists said
that, while they have ideas, no
murals are planned for the near
future. The artists warned that
more murals would "damage the
trust" between Housing and stu-
"I don't think anything that
wentup officially right now would
benefitthe cause in any other way."
said one of the artists."
And yet, they too, remained
optimistic about the future of the
As the founders said, hopefully
in the future "Take Back the RC"
will be changed to "RC Murals."
We'll see.

Daily Film Editor
Here's a healthy dose of irony:
"Divergent" could not be a more
formulaic movie. No development
is shocking,
no plot twist is
revelatory and
absolutely no Divergent
shot at true cre-
ativity is ever Rave 20 and
achieved or even Quality 16
attempted. This
is a film that fits Lionsgate
snuggly in the The back of yo head is reedickalus.
young adult action genre but com-
pletely fails to offer anything new and control her fear, but must also
as a result of an uninspired, mind- use her many personality traits to
less and unintelligent script. overcome the evil Erudite leader
Our setting is a poorly designed, (Kate Winslet, "Labor Day"),
computer-generated Chicago in who wants to destroy divergents.
the distant future, segregated Along the way, she meets some
from the rest of the country; there other new recruits, including
was a war and people died, so now Christina (Zoe Kravitz, "X-Men:
society is divided into five catego- First Class"), and an enemy in
ries, each corresponding to a per- Miles Teller ("That Awkward
sonality type: Abnegation, Amity, Moment"), serving as the only
Candor, Dauntless and Erudite (I fun person in the film. She also
would be utterly shocked if any falls in love with the hunky yet
member of the film's target audi- layered and secretive Four (Theo
ence even knows what these James, "Underworld: Awaken-
words mean). ing"); that first time he placed his
our heroine, Beatrice, played hand on her back to correct her
by Shailene Woodley ("The Spec- punching form you knew they
tacular Now"), was born into were meant for each other.
Abnegation, the selfless class, This movie is so riddled with
but longs for something more, plot holes it's difficult to withhold
though she doesn't know what. questioning everything about it.
Each young adult takes a per- Once a teen chooses his or her
sonality test to determine which new faction, he/she can never
class they should join, but they see his/her parents again ... why?
are allowed to choose where to Why is this a rule and what good
go. Beatrice learns, however, does "Faction Before Blood," as
that she is "divergent" (look they say in the movie, actually do
there's the title!), and her per- for an already crippled society?
sonality fits not one but three The Dauntless serve as the mili-
categories: Abnegation (denial), tary but they're base is located
Erudite (intelligence) and Daunt- underground and can only be
less (bravery). It turns out that accessed by jumping off a build-
"divergents" are dangerous since ing into a large hole in the ground
they can't fit into any one class that remains largely unguarded
and be controlled. - that seems a highly ineffec-
On Choosing Day, Beatrice tual process for the military, and,
chooses to join Dauntless while what's more, it's never explained
trying to keep her divergent sta- how they get back out. The Abne-
tus a secret. Renaming herself gation governs society but they
Tris sheme mustnow learn to fi-ht wear secondhandclothes and live


in rundown ghetto-like housing,
while the Erudite and Dauntless
wear suits and leather jumpsuits,
respectively, and have copious
amounts of technology. There's
electricity, cars and trains, but
Chicago doesn't sit atop a seaof oil
or next to a coal mine, so how do
they have power? There's just so
much missing.
The acting, however, far sur-
passes the writing; Woodley,
despite her slow running and gen-
erally mismatched physique for a
fighter, holds her own, especially
against the veteran Winslet. And
the direction from Neil Burger
("Limitless") is fine, at times even
great, as with a zip-lining scene
across the Chicago skyline.
But one must ask: would
"Divergent" suffer this much
had it come before "The Hunger
Games"? Well, yes. It takes the
worst parts of those films, the
"Harry Potter" films and "The
Matrix" and combines them into
a hodgepodge of mediocrity. It's
just so bland in terms of the genre
and so in-your-face in emphasiz-
ing the boldness of its heroine
with all the poorly timed one-
liners; the result is a meandering
two-plus hours of drag.
Everyone involved with
"Divergent," excluding the writ-
ers, is simply too good for it, and
the audience is too smart for it,
preteens included. Indeed, you
might walk away feeling just a

Son Lux talks life as a rising star

Daily Music Editor
Ryan Lott's music is, well,
hard to describe.
Lott, better known as Son
Lux, has three
solo studio Soi Lux (with
albums, three
EPs, a project Leverage Models)
with Serengeti Monday at
nd Sufjan Ste- 8p.m.
vens as Sisy-
phus, a handful MagcStck
of arranging $14
and program-
ming credits
on feature films, a performance
with the Young People's Chorus
of New York City at Carnegie Hall
and a weeklong residency at the
Joyce Theater with a dance com-
pany, among other projects. Pro-
lific might be an understatement.
It is this ability to seamlessly
fuse inspiration and collabora-
tion across a myriad of genres
and styles that has cemented
Son Lux as one of today's most
exciting, mysterious and forever-
expanding musicians. His voice
- light, floating but piercing - is
yet another instrument and, as
on his excellent 2013 release Lan-
terns, is usually complimented by
his own lush, operatic and often-
times schizophrenic production.
Still, while solo work takes up the
majority of his time, collaboration
continues to provide inspiration.
"I always look for people who
are similar to me in a way but
also very different," Lott said in
an interview with The Michigan
Daily. "I find that collaboration
is a really successful avenue to
discover new things about myself
and music in general."
Recently, Lott collaborated
with Lorde on a revised version
of "Easy (Switch Screens)" a track
from Lanterns. The result is magi-

cal - over Lott's syncopated and
sparse drums, Lorde sings with a
drawling menace found nowhere
on Pure Heroine to create a mas-
terful and cryptic landscape that
is really a genre of its own.
The collaboration came about
through Twitter, where Lorde,
who Lott described as "an
impressive and very cute chick,"
reached out to Lott to express
her love for his first record. After
the two connected, they decided
that Lorde would track her own
vocals and write to the original
instrumental. Lott described the
process as a give and take, a kind
of response and reaction in which
both he and Lorde truly collabo-
rated to revise, if not recreate, the
first version of "Easy."
For someone who puts so
much effort into every collabo-
ration and studio release, it's not
surprising that Lott put massive
amounts of work into developing
his live show. And if you know
his music, you can imagine that
it doesn't translate onto the stage
the way other artists' music does.
"The way I create music is
not by writing out all the music,
giving parts to the players and
capturing it on a microphone ...
I never think of music that way
but on stage that's exactly what
you're doing," he said.
As a result, Lott and his team
spent significant time reverse
engineering, programing and
generally reimagining his music
in order to design a live show
"that honors the recording in
such a way that it makes for a
unique live experience," he said.
On his current tour, Lott is
joined by Leverage Models, an
expansive and infectious dance-
rock collective fronted by Shan-
non Fields. The group released its
self-titled debut album last Octo-
ber to impressive critical praise

from a who's who of independent
music outlets.
As can be expected from any
artist signed to an independent
label, Lott has a love/hate rela-
tionship with the music business
and music coverage. Discussing
the recognition he received from
Lanterns, Lott said, "I wish I
could say what distinguishes that
album from my previous albums
... I do know the sad truth, that
part of the reason is plain, old-
fashioned money." It takes money
to create an album, money to tour
and money to promote. Basically,
being an artist takes a whole lot
of money, a lot more than the
average listener most likely real-
In addition to funding proj-
ects, there's the coverage to deal
"While my second record was
really well-reviewed, some key
people didn't review it, like Pitch-
fork refused to review it. That
kind of took me out of the equa-
tion," Lott said, Still, as much as
he makes music simply for the
art, he can't deny the benefits
that come with being acknowl-
edged by big publications.
"(Pitchfork) gave a track from
Lanterns 'Best New Track,'
which I had mixed feelings
about, but I was happy with the
impact in that it trickled down,"
Lott explained.
For "buzzing" and inde-
pendent artists like Son Lux,
something like a Pitchfork com-
mendation can be enough to
bring fame and a new legion of
fans. But Pitchfork review or not,
Lott's continuing to make music
- whether on his own, with
Lorde or with one of the count-
less future projects he's surely
dreaming up - and rest assured,
it's going to sound like nothing
you've ever heard before.

Contact a fellow U of M alum to
help you find your NYC home.

Lic. R. E. Salesperson


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