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What are you working on now and how does the piece in Conflux relate? 

The work I’m showing at CONFLUX are videos from the [borders] series. I love CONFLUX. It is the first and the best festival of media.

Any great adventures you’ve been on recently?

In Finland I was recently guest of honor at a dinner filled with LARPers (Live Action Role Playing gamers). Just before CONFLUX I’ll be hanging out with the digerati at IndieCade, the largest festival of independent game makers, held each year in LA. And I’ll be off to Salzburg after CONFLUX to be faculty at the Salzburg Global Seminars for world peace. So, yes, many adventures!

See more here:, @criticalplay

Upcoming Performance by Art404 at Conflux!

As we count down to the opening of the Conflux Festival 2012, we’re very excited to announce that we’ll be presenting a project this year happening simultaneously offsite in Miami and inside our base at NYU’s Barney Building Gallery in New York City!

As part of the 2012 Conflux Festival, the new media duo Art404 will be performing 1 Man 1 Phone, an ongoing performance set to begin with the start of the Festival on Saturday, October 20th. As the festival launches, Manuel Palou of Art404 will begin a new life as partner Moises Sanabria curates how it is received by the audience at NYU.  Palou will be activating a new smart phone with a new number and charging it to 100%, at which point he will leave his home in Miami with nothing but the clothes on his back and a phone charger. Using a new Twitter account, he will attempt to receive meals, housing and entertainment strictly by contacting local people in the Miami area through the social media service. Palou will not contact any previously known contacts except his partner in New York until the end of the performance. The performance will continue until Palou’s battery dies naturally, or he chooses to let his battery die.

We hope that you’ll follow the performance starting 12pm October 20th at

8 days until Conflux!!


What are you working on now and how does the piece in Conflux relate?

Right now I’m arranging and re-arranging the furniture in my studio at the VCCA where I’m in residency. I’ve been creating installations and documenting them, then sometimes making animated gifs from them. Kind of mashing up ideas of “domestic” and “artistic” production. Not sure if any of them will ever be shown/posted/etc. In a lot of ways that’s the exact opposite of my piece for Conflux. But I suppose they both deal with different kinds of spaces. Inner personal space vs. public/internet space. And the time I’m spending here is a necessary respite; which will then undoubtedly reverse when I re-enter the city. In that regard they feed off each other: Get quiet to then go public, go public to then get quiet again.

What interests you in working in public space? what are some of the challenges you face making public work?

Access, really. So many different types of people are likely to encounter a public work than they are in a gallery or even museum. Because most of my public work is online there are few challenges. One is the relative newness of the medium, another is creating work that challenges me yet remains accessible to as large an audience as possible. But I suspect these are issues that every artist faces to some degree.

Anything else you’d like to share about your recent work or involvement in Conflux?

I am really excited about the other artists included in the festival! Their work has inspired and challenged mine in many ways. It was also really fun to revisit the work I’m contributing, and to think about how to present it. It actually inspired me to create a series of four-minute walks here in Virginia. I did four over four days, starting at 4pm each day (and ending at 4:04). Every day I walked from my bedroom to my studio, which, incidentally, takes four minutes. I’m playing around with the audio now and it may end up as a sound installation eventually. Something about hearing four days at once…

Any great adventures you’ve been on recently?

Today I went on a short hike on part of the Appalachian trail! It was beyond beautiful. I also opened this door..

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What are you working on now and how does the piece in Conflux relate?

Much of my life of late has been the Ghana ThinkTank. This is a collaborative effort with John Ewing, Carmen Montoya, and dozens of think tank members and comrades around the world, including Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, Serbia, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico, and, as I write this, Morocco and the Republic of Georgia. Much like my earlier, personal work in this year’s Conflux, it is a project dedicated to creating unlikely connections through seemingly naive reconfigurations of stuff we tend to take for granted.


What interests you in working in public space? what are some of the challenges you face making public work?

Radical Common Sense. When I lived in Benin, if cars were driving too fast through the village, people would break up the road with shovels to slow them down. In some ways, common sense has become a radical idea in the United States. We live off the vapors of assumptions we receive from someone else. I am trying to get back to this sense of radical common sense, connecting to another through an act so obvious we would never think of it, so easy we would never dare.

But common sense is hard to smell! And the only consistent way I can find it is through someone else pointing it out to me with my own damn fingers. So I am interested in setting up the sorts of situations that reflect our lives through another’s perspective—the finger that points at the moon that reflects in the puddle that we step in, and the cold muddy water splashes down our boots and socks.


Any great adventures you’ve been on recently?

I just climbed to Mother Georgia in Tbilisi. Next week I will customize a Donkey Cart in Morocco!

Check out more here:, Ghana ThinkTank:


What are you working on now and how does the piece in Conflux relate? What interests you in working in public space?

I tell stories of people and infrastructure. It’s a pattern-finding exercise, linking things together (that sometimes have no real link!) and thinking in metaphors. But I think expanding ideas out into new directions—even absurd ones—is a great driver of creativity, as long as it’s done in a setting appropriate to experimentation.

I’m not formally trained as an artist, but I have a background working with technology in research-driven settings—I’ve done design research at Carnegie Mellon, worked at advertising agencies, and now at OpenPlans, a non-profit that helps cities run better. My educational background was oriented towards technology and the public sector.

I consider my professional work to be a strong part of my creative practice. Conflux’s topic is public space, which isn’t the same as the public sector, but there’s certainly overlap, and I think this framing is actually quite novel among the group. I’m also focused on the transportation sector, which is very related to Conflux’s topic of moving through the city.

To tie those things together, I think there’s a role for art/design in the development of technology for the public sector—government agencies are so afraid to fail, and because of that, for me, it’s really highlighted the need for experimentation to happen outside the public sector at an appropriate scale and in an appropriate space. Once these futures are proven, then the ideas can trickle back into the public sector and become “institutionalized” as it were, as necessary.

It’s also highlighted the need for technical expertise and familiarity with issues in the public sector to imagine new futures for the public sector. I say this at the expense of coming across as an advocate of “expert decision-making”, but I want to draw a distinction between expert-practitioner and expert-engaged-citizen. Both are required—and we need to get both of those groups of folks talking to each other to generate new ideas/ways forward. I think community-based artists and designers are ideally suited to be expert-engaged-citizens at the very least, and hopefully (and in my case) expert-practitioner around these issues, too.

My work for Conflux is called walk-shed, and walk-shed is a tool that imagines New York City’s network of deployed sidewalk sheds as a consistent system that pedestrians can use to avoid the elements: sun, rain, snow, bricks. Sidewalk sheds are a perfect metaphor for both “open-source thinking” and the integration that I see happening more via technology: What is done at a local/personal level, the deployment of a shed for a facade repair project, can be seen and understood at a level up (the macro/city level) as a complete system—with an appropriate piece of technology, that story, that frame, becomes visible/understandable and the emergent system takes on a new quality—and perhaps a new use, as I propose.

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