The soon-to-be demolished Frieze Building will be transformed into an enormous outside theater for an evening on April 18.
LSA senior Jacqueline Wood plans to project giant images of Frieze history onto the outside walls and windows of the historic former high school as part of her senior thesis.
Throughout this semester, Wood has collected an array of imagery and audio clips about events and people that have filled the Frieze Building since its construction in 1907.
Wood, a film and video studies major, is organizing the large-scale, multi-projection exhibition, titled “Frieze Frame,” as a farewell to the building, which is slated to be destroyed to make way for North Quad.
Frieze housed many of Wood’s classes during her time at the University. Nine video projectors and five slide projectors will project images onto Frieze for two hours.
“I was thinking about my experiences in college and said, ‘What am I going to remember in 50 years.’ Those memories are usually tied to a place, and for me that was Frieze,” Wood said.
Wood said she has collected more than 400 photographs and video clips for the project to date. She has gathered pictures, texts, flyers, old yearbook photos from the building’s years as Ann Arbor High School and photos of original architectural plans. Wood plans to incorporate pictures of all current staff members in their Frieze offices and is also looking for personal photos from community members or students.
“It is a community event and it’s open to contributions,” she said. “All the imagery has to do with the history, culture and life of the building: anything and everything Frieze.”
University alum Heather Radke is organizing the audio component of Wood’s project. Radke has conducted interviews and set up a voicemail accoumt to collect students’ and community members’ memories of the building, which she plans to meld into a running commentary to accompany the images.
“It’s interesting to hear people say, ‘This is what I did in this space.’ It’s amazing to hear about the building, both the momentous and mundane memories, just everyday moments,” Radke said. “Giving people a voice is the most important part of this project.”
The building has occupied the corner of State Street and Washington Street for 99 years – opening before World War I as Ann Arbor High School. In 1956, the University purchased and expanded the structure.
“The historical preservation part is very important,” Wood said. “I think it’s a cop-out on the University’s part to have the sentiment that because it’s old it’s not good anymore.”
Wood began the project in January and has since obtained a permit from the University to use the Frieze parking lot. The building’s exterior lights will be turned off for the exhibition. The exhibition will take place the last day of classes – the latest date the University would allow amplified sound on campus before it interfered with students’ final exam preparation.
Terri Sarris, a professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures and one of Wood’s thesis advisors, said the project has received University and department support. The department has granted Wood funding from its honors account for the event.
“She’s doing an interesting project that’s linking a written thesis with this production process,” Sarris said. “Her project involves expanded cinema; it is a very creative event.”
Sarris said much of Wood’s work involves projected imagery that delves beyond the typical cinematic experience, changing the relationship between spectator and film.
But the project is still lacking community involvement. The pair is looking for public stories and memories, either positive or negative, to accompany the projections.
“For me it’s a building, but for others it’s so many other things,” Wood said. “Every person’s story is unique. We’re trying to give people that voice, that outlet. The audio is so important because it is the easiest way to contribute.”
Wood hopes her project will give the Frieze Building the farewell it may not have gotten otherwise.
“I’m doing this to create a community event and show respect for the place,” Wood said. “It’s a communal goodbye.”
Plans originally called for the wrecking ball this summer. Last month, though, the schematic designs for North Quad were pulled off the schedule of the University Board of Regents meeting at which the regents were to be asked to approve them. The exterior designs needed some refinement, officials said. It is not clear what effect of the delay will be on the timeline for the demolition of Frieze.
How to contribute your memories of Frieze
The artists are seeking from student and community members contributions for the project. To share a story or personal memory, call the Frieze Frame hotline at 661-0323. The artists also need Frieze artifacts – photographs, flyers, texts or any other Frieze memorabilia – to be incorporated into slide shows. To make a contribution, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org