Tag Archives | intervention


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

Right now I’m working on an off-the-grid (solar-powered) performance space near the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s an old movie-prop tower about forty feet tall, so the working title I use is simply “The Tower.” The work will span a quarter mile or more of space. The booklet I’m sharing at Conflux (“GET LOST!”) is very tiny, but both projects ask you to become a performer, even if you’re just doing something like lying on the ground in a place where most people wouldn’t normally do that. I’m not a “performative person” but I like to think the world could use a little more weird.

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

What people do in public space is quite regimented, but everybody knows just about anything can happen. A good example is the “In case I get hit by a bus” trope. Nobody says “In case I have a heart attack clicking the ‘Like’ button on Facebook,” even though those odds are probably better. Your computer feels safe. The outside and other people feel dangerous. This fear of anything and everything happening to us while out in the world creates a lot of informal social agreements about how we’re to behave in that world—like walking on the proper side of the sidewalk. These agreements are ripe material for artists interested in engaging people in this terrain. The challenge then is how to crack open those informal agreements in—I’ll use a Dungeons and Dragons alignment term here—a “Chaotic Good” way, a way that disrupts the flow of the day in unexpected but ultimately pleasurable and insightful ways.

Any great adventures you’ve been on recently?

I made a visit to the Black Hole in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the other day, right before the liquidation sale. I spent the day digging through some of the most amazing and threatening electronic and machine surplus in the world. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a day. I must have asked “What is that?” to myself about a thousand times. It’s a question I should ask more often.

See more here: http://robray.net, @robdeadtech


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.


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.



CONFLUX is back in action!

We’re excited to announce that CONFLUX is returning again this year! Directors Christina Ray and David Mandl and Curatorial Director David Darts have invited Angela Washko to curate this year’s festival. Searching through CONFLUX’s rich archives, Washko found a number of recurrent themes and became especially interested in the number of past participants’ interventions on transportation methods.  Stay tuned to this website- we will be posting some past CONFLUX documentation and highlighting works by this year’s participants as we gear up for the upcoming festival!

This year the CONFLUX crew looks forward to presenting a look at the astounding plethora of ways to move in NYC– taking subways, buses, trains, bikes, taxicabs, cars, boats, ferries, planes, by running, by dancing, by swimming and more.  Despite the impressive breadth of ways to navigate the city, there are many things to improve upon and alternatives to explore –  accessibility,  adventure, unexpected usages, policy, aesthetics and more. On Saturday October 20th and Sunday October 21st 2012, CONFLUX will present artists, activists, interaction designers, and pranksters who are exploring the ways we experience transportation and creating interventions to improve, shake up, or evaluate the things that we have implicitly accepted into our daily commutes. The festival will take the form of an exhibition and artist talks at NYU along with concurrent phenomena elsewhere. Work in the exhibition will range in temperament and intention – from practical and functional to poetic and absurd. Think: plays in the New York subway system,  mythological topographies, a “magical” bus tour of suburban New Jersey (which included a visit to the basement couch where the facilitator lost his virginity), subway improvement gestures, and much more. Employing everyday transportation as media for creating emerging narratives, projects presented at Conflux are expected to inspire new creative modes of experiential transit.

A full schedule of events and participant list is coming soon!

About CONFLUX 2012 Curator Angela Washko:
Angela Washko is an independent curator devoted to mobilizing communities and an artist creating actions, interventions, videos, and performances (sometimes in video games!).  She is the Assistant Director of Habitable Spaces in Sequin Texas, and a long-term artist-in-residence at Flux Factory in Queens.  Her recent projects include the founding of The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness In World of Warcraft – earning her the Terminal Award and Grant, an upcoming fellowship and residency at HIAP in Helsinki Finland, and a solo exhibition at Austin Peay State University.  Washko has recently curated Deconstructing the Habit, and HABIT: A Video Festival at Spattered Columns in SoHo as well as Collaborative Means at The Congress of Collectives, Why Participate?  at Flux Factory, and the series Expert Oddities at venues in NYC and Troy, NY.  Her projects have been written about by Hyperallergic, Rhizome, the New York Times and more.