I had almost decided to be disappointed with Conflux, the art and tech festival for the creative exploration of urban public space. They had left arty Brooklyn for sleek Soho, Manhattan. You know that old whig who preaches that you should stick to the good old habit no matter what? That was me. But 5 minutes into the festival convinced me that the event is as good as ever. Just different. I did miss the Brooklyn location, it works better for free explorations of the urban grid and also for performances in the street. Plus there was no possibility to do a BBQ in the street which used to be a great and pretty relevant way to wrap up the festival. Ha! And the police had to come and take down a swing which was entertaining passersby. However, the quality of the projects performed and shown at Conflux was amazing. I’ll brush over the two first days of the festival as i was still in Seoul trying unsuccessfully to overcome jetlag.
I arrived at Conflux HQ (the neat, elegant but a bit stiff Center for Architecture) to see a performance by the Apparatus for Orchestral Knitting. Laure Drogoul had invited everyone to knit and become a part of a musical knitting orchestra, based on an instrument that amplifies the sound of their knitting, mixed it and played it back live.
The techy work that really charmed me by its simplicity, poetry and melodies was Every Step by Matt Roberts.
You’re given an armband with a mounted camera and pedometer. Off you go walking outside to create your own short experimental animation. The pedometer acts as a trigger for the camera and an image of whatever is above you is taken every time a step is made. Nothing to do, just walk and the device does the rest.
Once you’re back from wherever your steps led you to, the images are transferred from the camera’s memory into a program that create a frame-by-frame animation and an accompanying soundtrack. When the program completes the animation, you get your DVD.
Bingxia Yu had installed inside the gallery a display offering Ugly New York postcards: the unsightly spaces are sometimes located right next to favorite tourists’ spots, the back of Time Square under construction, the down under of Brooklyn Bridge, the recovering Lower Manhattan in progress, etc. The project also involves a range of keychains, magnets and other tourist souvenirs which will soon be available for sale online.
As the artist wrote: We believe that ugly spaces – ugly in a sense that they will never make a perfect postcard are more valuable for city experiences.
Antti Pussinen‘s 7 Urban Silences was a surprisingly engrossing work.
Silence in urban spaces is never really devoid of the echo of receding sirens, crowd mumblings, door buzzings and other noises. 7 Urban Silences invites visitors to done headphones and mix the relative silences recorded by artists and musicians in cities as different as Paris and Dakar.
To be continued…