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The Indeterminacy Festival – “Emergence”

The Indeterminacy Festival will be returning to Silo City for the second year in a row. This year’s theme is Emergence, which is perfect for Silo City because the site itself is in the process of emerging from a somnolent state. But thanks to events such as The Indeterminacy Festival, the site is transformed into an expressive post-industrial campus, energized by artists and musicians who are gravitating to these authentic places.

In order to project the power of “Emergence”, on an artistic level, festival director Stanzi Vaubel is working with engineers, across mediums, to create:

  • Large-scale string instruments
  • Dancers, who are choreographing works with string
  • Textile artists who are designing environments with string
  • Specialists from Poetry and Philosophy to Physics and Geology, in an effort to find new ways of “weaving” together our relationships between the disciplines

The idea of weaving string together also coincides with Buffalo as a whole. The people who live here have become the “string” that holds the city together. Now, the people and their creative concepts are literally and physically stringing together Silo City by use of international visiting artists, musicians, film screenings… and string!

New to this year’s The Indeterminacy Festival will be events and workshops held throughout the city, culminating in two large-scale shows at Silo City on May 18th and 19th.

“Starting on Monday May 14th to the 19th we will host 4 international visiting artists who will conduct a variety of workshops on topics related to the festival theme of EMERGENCE and will be showing 2 films also related to the festival: Story Telling for Earthly Survival about Donna Haraway, and Particle Fever about the Large Hadron Collider (we are also creating a simulation of a particle collision in the collider),” said Vaubel. “This year, we are exploring the theme of Emergence in which an unlikely confluence of ideas come together in the formation of something new. We are using string as a metaphor for these ideas. I have been working with engineers to design large-scale nets which will connect various buildings on the Silo City campus, in a effort to take the concept of Emergence on a material level, and bring the idea of a complex network (like the ones we navigate virtually online) back into the real world.

Joining the project are collaborators from across the arts and sciences (including Physics and Geology) and after a week of workshops, lectures, screenings, and events around the theme of Emergence – the festival will culminate on May 18th and 19th in two performances with a large choir from across Buffalo, dancers, aerialists, musicians, and community groups who will all take part in staging two show at Silo City: there are around 100 individuals involved.”

The entire schedule of events can be viewed here.

May 16th / 3:00-5:00pm “A Tale as a Tool”: Boat Tour – Do you hear anything? Do you see any change in the water?

In Poe’s short story “A Descent into the Maelström”, a fisherman leads the narrator onto a cliff to behold the whirlpool. From this point of view, he tells a story that no one ever believed: how he went down and escaped the great whirl, by observing and analyzing the trajectories of objects caught in the vortex. On this boat tour, we invite witnesses from all backgrounds – inhabitants, researchers, campaigners, community members – to share their experiences and knowledge, whether specialized or based on daily life observations. As climate disruption and ecological damage tend to intensify, the vastness and diversity of their effects implies that everybody, in their own place, can become a witness.

Departure point: 44 Prime St. Buffalo (at the central wharf at Canalside, downtown) | | FREE, Space is limited, registration required:


May 17 / 3:30-6:00 pm

Sophie Krier & 5 Loaves Farm 1172 West Ave, Buffalo, NY 14213

Drawing inspiration from 5 Loaves Farm, participants will engage in a hands-on planting activity with farm owners. Building on this experience, the workshop will develop creative approaches to forming connections between agriculture, personal history, and the urban landscape. Participants will be guided towards making a collective work, which will be shared at the culmination of the festival on May 18th and 19th.

Wear outdoor gear! This is a hands-on event, and the fields may be muddy.

FREE, registration required

May 17 / 7:30 – 9:00 pm

Sophie Krier lecture

“Harvest what you sow”

Krier is a relational artist and researcher who interweaves beings and places. She will discuss her praxis.

Cass Project, Boiler Room, 500 Seneca St.

FREE, registration required

May 18 / 5:00-7:00pm

“A Tale as a Tool”: The Vortex Re-Scripted

Nikolaus Wasmoen, visiting assistant professor in Digital Scholarship and English at the University at Buffalo, will propose a new plot to rewrite Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelström” together with the public. The workshop will result in a new script, written collectively and in real time.

Cass Project – Boiler Room,

500 Seneca Street

FREE, registration required

19 May / 3:00–7:30pm

“A Tale as a Tool”: The Maelström Investigation office

The Maelström investigation office will gather drawings, notes, prints, cartographies, transcripts, and materials collected by the artistic trio during their inquiry into environmental perturbations and adaptations in Buffalo. This afternoon will be a chance to gather the persons interviewed during the research residency and invite the public to exchange and further contribute to the research process.

Duende Building, Silo City

FREE, registration required


May 14th / 7:00 pm

Story Telling for Earthly Survival Film Hallwalls, 341 Delaware (at Tupper)

FREE, registration required

Donna Haraway is perhaps best known as the author of “A Cyborg Manifesto,” a canonical work in virtually all graduate courses in the Humanities. Haraway’s most recent book Staying with the Trouble points to the necessity of looking outside of our own field of knowledge, which is essential to our own survival. (adapted from Icarus Films)

May 15th / 7:00 pm

Particle Fever Film

Hallwalls, 341 Delaware (at Tupper)

FREE, registration required

Particle Fever follows six scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, as they seek to unravel the mysteries of the universe. 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries joined forces in pursuit of a single goal: to recreate conditions that existed just moments after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson particle, potentially explaining the origin of all matter. Following the film will be a Q&A with UB Physicists Salvatore Rappoccio and Doreen Wackeroth.



May 18th and 19th / 8:30pm

The Indeterminacy Festival Presents: EMERGENCE

Performances at Silo City

Purchase Tickets here

This two-day event will take both audience and performer on a journey. It will begin at the beginning, the very very beginning, and then carry us from there, through the big bang, deep time and into the present. Starting with the sound of handmade long wire string instruments and charting a path stretched by dancers and aerialists, this show will string together collaborations from across the disciplines and reveal the emerging works that are generated to form this unique event. 

*It should be noted that these performances will take place from 8:30-10:00pm. The event is not an installation, but a guided performance, and as such, does not accommodate late arrival.

This production is directed and co-produced by Stanzi Vaubel


A Tale as a Tool

Aurélien Gamboni, Sandrine Teixido, Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro

Since 2011, the artists have developed a long-term investigation based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “A Descent into the Maelström” (1841). Using this story as a conceptual tool to challenge narratives of adaptation to environmental threats, they have explored past and future resonances of the story, from the South of Brazil to the North of Norway, through multiple formats – editions, installations, and public situations.

More information:

Sophie Krier: artist and researcher, develops tools for collective narration and reflection. She is particularly interested in the oscillating movement between dream and reality, form and non-form. Initially trained in textile design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, today she interweaves stories that connect beings and places. Krier currently directs Art & Design Practice: a program in the spirit of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which she developed on invitation of University College Roosevelt (NL), and where she teaches in the fall. Since 2017 she is associate researcher of Ensadlab Paris and Chair of Arts and Sciences.

For more information visit:

This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory of Roy Roussel, Media Study Chair and Professor – mentor and friend – Roy teaches us that: “happiness is not a moment. It’s a narrative, a story you construct by arranging moments in a sequence that preserves what is positive and marginalizes what is negative. It turns out happiness is like writing a book. All you have to do is commit, focus, work. Next day, repeat.” The subtlety of this statement sits quietly beside its deceptive simplicity. Roy was living proof that constructing a narrative of happiness, is about a commitment to those around you, taking the given situation, even the most difficult, and turning it, ever so slightly, so that we might see anew; layering and complicating its meaning, changing the possible futures that might be its result. We look forward to having you join us. – Stanzi Vaubel, Director and Co-Producer & sarah jm kolberg, Co-Producer

See festival on Facebook

COLLABORATORS  sarah jm kolberg co-producer, Patrick Sears -aerial rigging and engineering, net design and design of long-string instrument; Melanie AcetoJenna Del MonteKara Mann – Choreography; Christina Vega-Westhoff – aerial choreography; Doreen Wackeroth – Physics; Carolyn Roberts, Nathan Marshall, Jeremy Stock – Geology, Brian Milbrand -Projections; Chris Siano -welding and fabrication; Anita Vaubel – Mural Execution and artistic production; Justina Dziama – architectural design for deep time, Indigo Productions Buffalo NY -sound and lighting design with advisory support from John Shotwell

The Indeterminacy Ensemble: Stephen LattimoreDan CarusoJohn Morano, Nathan Marshall, Matt Porcello, Emily Fagerstrom, John SlobodzianLuis Felipe Blanco, Devin Zimmer, Buffalo String Works

University at Buffalo Singers: Savannah Henry, Amanda HellwigRebecca Kwong, Bela Harris, John AlexanderEmily ReaganLucy DesJardinsNicole St. LégerElizabeth VennariJulia Anne Cordani, led by Claudia Brown
Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Parish youth choir led by Jenny Serniuk, Baker Memorial United Methodist Church led by Robert Sowyrda, Stanzi Vaubel – Musical Composition and Lyrics 

The Parkinson Dance Ensemble led by Cynthia Cadwell Pegado
Starlight Studio and Art Gallery
Just Buffalo Literary Center
West Side Bazaar
5 Loaves Farm

Shakora Domingo
Olivia Lovsin
Katherine Tomney 
Kelsey Jessup
Nina Vega-Westhoff
Darby Ann Balling-Sheridan
Lindsay Ann 
Michaela Neild
Alexia Buono
Anna Sharpe 
Cynthia Cadwell Pegado
Larris Acker
Kara Mann
Jessie Soto
Madeline E. Allard
Jonathan Zangara

Toni Jay Haugen
Maura Kutnyak-Smalley
Andrew Kutnyak
Jolene Lemke
Nina Vega-Westhoff

Sponsors: Arts Services Initiative of WNY, Inc.The Bird’s Nest Circus ArtsThe Department of Media Study, SUNY at Buffalo; John and Shelley McKendry; NYSCA; Department of Physics at The University at Buffalo; Silo City (special thanks to Rick Smith and Swannie Jim); Technē: Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies (special thanks to Franck Bauchard); UB Graduate Student Association (Mark Diamond Research Fund)

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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