Conflux City – Algorithmic Subway Adventure in New York City

BCL confluxcity

Back in July, Broken City Lab sent out a proposal to Conflux City 2009, which is a subset of the New York City festival for contemporary psychogeography, Conflux Festival. In August we found out that we were not only accepted into the festival, but we are also one of the featured projects of the program!

For the Conflux City 2009 program, we will be conducting psychogeographical urban research on the experiences of everyday life on the subways in New York through the activation of New York field agents. We will enlist the participation of numerous New Yorkers and visitors to the city to travel the subways and interact with their surroundings using a computer-generated algorithm that we create. This highly concentrated activity of paying attention to and disrupting the everyday on the New York subways will allow us to examine urban interactions in a well-functioning city.

In detail, participants are asked to bring their digital cameras to the walk. If they do not own a digital camera, the participants are still able to participate in the walk because we will be separating the field agents into groups, assuring there is at least one camera per section. We will provide the participants with a list of 25 randomly assembled steps in algorithmic form, and they will have a 2-hour timeslot with which to complete each of the 25 steps. We ask any one who is interested in our Algorithmic Subway Adventure to meet us at noon on Sunday, September 20th, 2009 at Union Square Station.

Photographs from the Algorithmic Subway Adventures will allow us to visually review what it means to participate in personal and community engagement in a city that we imagine being the epitome of social urban functionality. Our interest in New York as a site of this research is situated in the city’s distinct difference to our city, where the scale of urban adventure and research is not only incredibly larger, but also occurring within an entirely different context, one that is critical for us to understand in our ongoing research.


New Broken City Lab Headquarters!

Green Corridor’s ecohouse recently moved to 362-372 California from it’s original Sunset Ave. location, providing multiple new opportunities for research and community collaboration.  Located in the 362 California house is a small office room that BCL has taken over!

BCL room

We started moving in Thursday evening and had quite a bit of trouble maneuvering those two desks between the narrow halls and small door ways, but we made it happen!  The room is quite bare right now, but our office space is sure to be decked out in no time.  Next week we’ll start installing some bulletin boards, maybe a light fixture, and see where that takes us.  We also have access to the basement which will be great for workshops and the like.

D.I.Y. N.Y.C. Band ‘The Eskalators’ Cause Subway Chaos With Their Guerrilla Shows

On a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of seeing The Eskalators play in Brooklyn apartment, during a three day, permit-less, rooftop and backyard music festival, Hillstock, that they apparently also put on!  I had no idea who they were, or what they were going to sound like, but their high energy  and the fact that their band consisted of 15+ members caught my attention.

After the show I began doing some research on The Eskalators, and discovered that they’re notorious for organizing guerrilla subway shows!  The above video is from their 4th subway show, and as you can see, not only do they completely claim the space with their music and presence, they also cover all of the subway advertisements with homemade banners and sheets of coloured paper, and also engage all the other subway passengers by having them sing along, or play provided bazookas.  They also replaced the “Your next stop…” message with “Your next stop is ‘shut the hell up,’ and the transfers are ‘don’t get off the train.'”

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Futurefarmers: Cultivating Consciousness Since 1995


Amy Franceschini of San Francisco, is a contemporary American artist and designer who’s practices span from drawing, painting, sculpture, design, net art, public art and gardening. She teaches media theory and practice courses at both Stanford University and San Francisco Art Institute.

In 1995, she founded Futurefarmers as a way to bring together multidisciplinary art practitioners to bring together new work. They are, “teachers, researchers, designers, gardeners, scientists, engineers, illustrators, people who know how to sew, pattern makers, cooks and bus drivers with a common interest in creating work that challenge current social, political and economic systems.” Amy Franceschini explains, “The name [Futurefarmers] is a product of my childhood,” explaining the influences of her father, a corporate farmer and owner of a pesticide company, and her mother, a New Age type devoted to the notion of organic farming.

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Talk 20 – Pecha Kucha Windsor

Talk 20, Windsor

Talk20 is not a lecture but a gathering, an open forum for the dissemination of ideas in art, architecture and design.  Produced in cities around the world talk20 has emerged as a live catalogue of contemporary creative production that seeks to instigate a conversation within and without the design community.”

Last night’s Talk 20, put on by Jodi Green was absolutely fantastic.  I don’t think I’ve ever left an event feeling so inspired, motivated and informed.  There was an overwhelming turnout.  Artcite was so jam packed that people had to grab some chairs from Phog Lounge and carry them through the cold, down University.  But even with the added seating, there they still didn’t have enough chairs for everyone.  People were lined up against the wall, standing around the back, crouched down at the front, all trying to squeeze into a little room to hear the presenters give their 7 minute presentation.

More photos, some details on the presentations, and the video of the Broken City Lab presentation after the jump.

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