Superstar DJ and godfather of the Detroit techno movement, Derrick May’s life as a solo performing artist propels him on a trajectory of almost constant trans-global travel. For 30 years he has quietly, methodically, obsessively photographed his journeying and the dance events that punctuate it.
An avid collector of classic cameras and vintage optics, May is drawn to the convenience and immediacy of new generation pocket portable cameras. Shooting from plane, train, taxi or on foot, in a prolific stream of stills and video he documents futuristic architecture, the distorted time-space of international travel, the opulence of big city hospitality, and the fleeting high-tech escapism of dance club night-time worlds.
Much like his music, Mays images are spontaneous, unselfconscious, sensual and technically raw. His style is free, slightly rough, funky with a hi tek sensibility. A quick eye for composition elevates his work above the level of a celebrity performers travelog. A sense of space and rhythm shows May is a practiced observer with an intuitive feel for connected movement, creating bold compositions with visual counter-point, and spatial rhythms add a musical quality to a visual sensibility that is profoundly techno. Moments of stillness are rare. Unpopulated architectural studies reverberate with the ambience of imminent departure. A feeling of constant motion pervades fleeting moments observed in a transient cyclic narrative of departure from Detroit, through artificial landscapes and time fragmented, then back to Detroit. The effect is simultaneously futurist and nostalgic, ecstatic and tragic.
In moments captured at home with family, backdropped by the dystopic wasteland of urban Detroit, the contrast between worlds is tangible, at times alarming, and these images are among the most poignant.
At the climax of his journeying , magic occurs in moments mid-performance, the gaze is turned onto his audience, capturing Derrick Mays unique viewpoint from the centre stage of global dance club culture.
In 2010 May asked Mike Weston take a production role bringing this major body of image work to public eyes. In 2012 Weston produced the first Transience:Fragmented Time series of experimental photo-montage works created from Mays images. A selection of prints were exhibited at 2012 Detroit Backpack festival. Creative directions forged in this develoment seeded further design and a video teaser created with Tom Ludvigson for Karim Sahraoui’s “The Eternal EP”.(Transmat MS200 ).