Author Archive | Angela Washko

HIGHLIGHT FROM CONFLUX 2008: TANGO INTERVENTION

Robert Lawrence and his project Tango Intervention is both a highlight from a past Conflux Festival and also a participating project in this year’s festival exhibition.  During the 2008 edition of Conflux, Lawrence assembled over 40 dancers to Tango across the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping for a one hour milonga at the Brooklyn Tower and another one hour milonga at the Manhattan Tower. He describes the project as a dedication to the invisible laborers that built the bridge during the “Gilded Age.”  More information on this project can be found here.

 

HIGHLIGHT FROM CONFLUX 2007: RONALD’S CRISIS

During the 2007 Conflux Festival, participants were invited to take part in the “Top Secret Steve Lambert Project.”

This top secret project ended up being titled “Ronald’s Crisis” and brought Conflux visitors and other co-conspirators together to shut down all 85 McDonald’s stores across Manhattan.  Steve Lambert’s collaborators posted “CLOSED FOR EVALUATION” signs on the doors and windows of every McDonald’s in Manhattan.  A public statement was made by a very apologetic Ronald McDonald during a press conference in Union Square which followed.

Check out the video footage courtesy of Steve Lambert.

FEATURED PARTICIPANT: Institute for Applied Autonomy

The participant list is up and nearly complete! For the next few weeks I will be writing blog posts about participants’ past projects as well as Conflux Festivals of yesteryear!  Today I wanted to share a bit about the Institute for Applied Autonomy!

Founded in 1998, the Institute for Applied Autonomy produced projects that provided the public with access to cryptic information, provided activists with technologies to be more effective, and as their mission states: they conducted “technological research and development dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination.”

Responding to the need for more covert modes of resistance and social insurgency, the IAA created three “Contestational Robots.” These robots invert the frequent use of robots in authoritarian power structures by solely serving activists and resistant communities. Graffiti Writer is a remote-operated robot that writes messages on the ground with spray cans (like a dot matrix printer).  The images below illustrate the project’s strength – providing activists with a voice to infiltrate spaces remotely, anonymously, and in loud, bold text.

For Conflux 2012, I’ve included Institute for Applied Autonomy’s iSee project in the exhibition at NYU. iSee provided commuters in select cities with web applications charting the locations of surveillance cameras in public space. Doubtful of the effectiveness of these cameras in lowering crime rates, and responding to the abuse of these technologies by public and private authorities, IAA created opportunities for users of the iSee web app to walk confidently, mapping out routes that avoid CCTV cameras (IAA calls them “paths of least surveillance).  This project and all of the Institute for Applied Autonomy’s projects and texts are found here.

 

 

FEATURED PARTICIPANTS: Anders Bojen and Kristoffer Orum

Newcomers to the Conflux Festival, Copenhagen-based collaborative duo Anders Bojen and Kristoffer Orum create and edit new narratives for whole cities (and even their own autobiographies).  The two of them have been working together for ten years and I had the pleasure of meeting them during our concurrent residencies at Flux Factory!

I am especially moved by Bojen and Orum’s instinct to infuse tried-and-true topographical maps with unlikely data – histories of seemingly insignificant objects (a discarded earring, coins, band aids, etc),  extensive and frequently interactive stories about potentially fictitious citizens,  invented landmarks, and new urban mythologies.  When one navigates the duo’s web-based interactive map Topographies of the Insignificant, one encounters a very broad overview map of the earth with only a couple of red “Google Maps” style pin points on it.  However, upon zooming in one is prompted to navigate cities by way of discarded objects.  Kristoffer and Anders have injected into these objects an odd combination of blatantly boring objective descriptions, touching personal narratives, and traces of their geographical footprints.

Anders Bojen and Kristoffer Orum’s piece Radiant Copenhagen will also be exhibited during Conflux 2012. Radiant Copenhagen is also an interactive web-based map in which users navigate Copenhagen through histories, moments, and locations (mythological? factual? blantantly make-believe?) explained by its residents.

FEATURED PARTICIPANT: Marie Lorenz

As we start finalizing our participating artist list, I will be posting participants’ past projects and projects that will be included in this year’s Conflux Festival!

I wanted to start with Marie Lorenz’s ongoing project The Tide and Current Taxi.  For many cultural producers it is often difficult to keep projects going for more than the length of time from production to exhibition, but Marie has been operating the taxi since 2005 and exploring the waterways in boats that she has designed and built since 2002! Most New Yorkers do not consider the NYC waterways as a viable mode of transport.  I admire Marie’s dedication to making New York new again, as she facilitates explorations of the city from an under-examined perspective: the water.

The Tide and Current Taxi is a rowboat water taxi in the New York Harbor, operated by the artist Marie Lorenz. Each trip is planned to coincide with strong tidal currents in the harbor. To learn more about the project and see lots of documentation, check out The Tide and Current Taxi’s website.