polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Techno Rebels in Detroit

by Vivien Park

I recently re-watched the compelling documentary Hi Tech Soul directed by Gary Bredow. The film chronicles the birth and rise of Detroit techno, as seen through the eyes of pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson (aka the Belleville Three) as well as second generation contributors like Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin.

To me, the most interesting part of the film was how it illustrated the relationship between the techno sound and the unique qualities of urban Detroit in the 1980s. From robotics in car manufacturing plants, to the industrial remnants of a city transitioning into automation, techno and its exponents are building upon a collective vision where souls could be found in the hearts of machines, and underground dance music could move people across economical and geographic divides.

The whole movie can be viewed on youtube. I've included the first segment below:

Credits: Video from exiledlarky.