Tag Archives | Walk

Off-Site Project: Signup Announcement! Yoni Brook’s Mailman Walks

Yoni Brook is conducting an off-site project at the same time as Conflux this year! We are pleased to announce that 13 individuals will have the opportunity to join the artist on an intimate walk at a currently undisclosed location. How do you participate? Here are the details from Yoni Brook:

Mailman Walks is a live documentary workshop. The audience will walk with a mailman delivering mail and explore his route through personal stories. Therefore RSVPs for the 13 audience slots are required.

To RSVP, email mailman@yonibrook.com
Time: Saturday, October 20. 11AM in Richmond Hill, Queens. Workshop ends at ~1:30pm.
Precise subway-accessible meeting location will be provided in confirmation email.

PARTICIPANT INTERVIEW: Jeff Maki

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.

Check out more: http://www.jeffmaki.com

PARTICIPANT INTERVIEW: Rob Ray

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

FEATURED PARTICIPANT: Matt Green

Conflux is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to invite Matt Green to participate in this year’s festival.  Most of us can’t say that we’ve walked farther than a few miles from home. Over the course of 157 days, Matt Green walked 3100 miles across the United States – from Rockaway Beach, New York to Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

His story is heartfelt, revealing and astounding.  You can view the blog archive of his trip here: http://imjustwalkin.com/usa/.  He writes in a post upon arriving at his West Coast destination: “We may all have different political opinions and different religious beliefs and different cultural norms (I’m a liberal atheist Jew. Did you know that? Does it matter?), and many of us probably couldn’t stand to be around each other on a regular basis, but most of us would, as it turns out, extend a helping hand (or sandwich, or beer, or couch, or shower) to a stranger in need. I walked 3100 miles across this country and didn’t encounter a single person who tried to hurt me, or steal from me, or damage my possessions. This isn’t a place that needs to be feared. It’s a place that needs to be explored, and appreciated, and celebrated.”

At the Conflux Festival 2012, we will be exhibiting his interactive photo map to allow visitors to dive into moments from his trip across the USA on-foot.  He will also be giving a talk on his most recent project – I’m walking every street in New York City, in which he is walking every block of every street in all five boroughs- when completed it will total about 8000 miles on foot! It’s exciting to think that even though he will walk every single intersection in NYC more than once, Matt Green is sure that the city will still be full of surprises.

“Why would you ever want to know a place completely? The excitement of New York, and the whole world for that matter, is that there’s always something else to see, no matter how long you’ve been around. To me it is profoundly encouraging to think of how many secrets will still lie undiscovered after I’ve walked every last one of these goddamned streets. At its core, my walk is an oxymoron: an exhaustive journey through an inexhaustible city.” -From Green’s “Ramblings” on his new walk- found online here.

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.