Detroit Transect — Circling (2013 DOWNIE KAISER)

Circling is a section of the 3D suite of films called Detroit Transect by Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser.

The film explores downtown Detroit and draws principally upon footage shot from the Detroit’s PeopleMover monorail, from a helicopter survey of downtown, from a car in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and from hand-held cameras in the Renaissance Center and in various pedestrian bridges and sidewalks.

The 3D film evokes the circle as a one-time emblem of modernity (think of the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair) – a circularity that now registers America’s failed industrial dream.

Circling Detroit’s cutting pattern also forms a kind of circular chain, the rule being that each shot must show something that can be seen in the next. Even so, the cuts can be striking dislocations, for a curve in the monorail can suddenly be seen from a distant helicopter view or in an examination of an outdated scale model of what the downtown was supposed to become in its intended renaissance.

The film premiered at MoMA on 11 November 2013.

Detroit: Transect

Our artists’ statement and a well-illustrated account of the sections and methods of the entire Detroit Transectproject is provided in this PDF document (18 mb).


The executive producer was Dennis Scholl. Support provided by the Witt Residency Program at the Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan and by Knight Foundation

In early 2015 this artwork was acquired by MoMA for it permament collection.