Archive | 2012 Blog


Alex Young has recently moved back to NYC from post-industrial upstate New York towns Troy and Buffalo. In conjunction with the Conflux Festival 2012, Young will be creating a site-specific project (which we learn more about in a couple of weeks). Beforehand, I wanted to highlight his practice and a few of his recent works. Alex Young is an artist, curator and writer exploring the built environment and experimental historiography.

His 2011 project, The Center for Utopian Socialist Studies (C.U.S.S.) is a floating headquarters on the base of a waterfall on the Wyantskill River in Troy- the same river which once fueled the Burden Iron Works’ waterwheel. Young also states that the waterwheel was the world’s largest of its time and was the primary influence on the invention of the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel was also the main influence for King Gillette’s 1984 conception of Metropolis, another huge focus of Young’s work and research.  C.U.S.S. serves as both an avatar for his Worldshaving project and also as a functional reading room containing literature related to the formation of utopian social communities. This small, hidden base looks at narratives that create a sense of place, city, and industry.

In addition to highlighting Alex Young’s off-site project happening during the weekend of Conflux, we are excited to be exhibiting documentation from his Site of Metropolis: Past/ Future, Present/ Future project completed in Buffalo, NY in 2010. The vinyl mesh banners shown below were installed along chain link fences throughout Buffalo- implying the future construction of King Camp Gillette’s 1984 vision of a single-world-city grid of towering apartment buildings powered by Niagara Falls.  Looking forward to checking them out at Conflux 2012!



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.



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.