Campus News

Indeterminacy Festival explores connections among past, present and future

Participants at Indeterminacy festival at Silo city; some walk from a grain silo along a path lined with large nets; two climb up the silo on ropes.

Indeterminacy Festival 2019 will explore eras of geologic time and ways in which gravitational and electromagnetic waves serve as communicators between past, present and future.

By BERT GAMBINI

Published May 6, 2019

Stanzi Vaubel at a grain elevator along the Buffalo River.

Stanzi Vaubel

“I want visitors to walk away feeling that the impossible is possible and realize that powerful unprecedented change can happen when individuals and ideas come together.”
Stanzi Vaubel, director, founder and co-producer
Indeterminacy Festival

Indeterminacy Festival 2019, a weeklong series of events unfolding at various locations throughout Western New York, will explore eras of geologic time and ways in which gravitational and electromagnetic waves serve as communicators between past, present and future.

The third annual festival opens on May 11 and concludes with a two-day finale on May 17 and 18 at the Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve, home to a fossil quarry recognized as a global geological treasure containing remnants of a shallow ocean environment that existed here nearly 400 million years ago.

The inherent uncertainty implied in the festival’s name is resolved through its innovative, far-reaching program that combines the unlikely in a manner that creates order and suggests new and unexpected relationships between ideas.

“Indeterminacy tells us that potential can be steered and that we have the power to harness our tendencies into something profound and unprecedented,” says Stanzi Vaubel, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Media Study and director, founder and co-producer of the festival with Sarah JM Kolberg, a doctoral candidate in visual studies.

“We need new paradigms for living on earth and there is no more time to wait.”

During the week, the festival will host workshops and screenings at Five Loaves Farm, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the UB South Campus and Cradle Beach that link concepts ranging from soil contamination to building a transmitter, a span resulting from Vaubel’s yearlong investigation into the ways in which these ideas might be realized in the context of the festival.

Promotional poster featuring the words, "The Indeterminacy Festival presents: PastFuture/FuturePast May 11-18, 2019" over an image of a dancer with a large whit parachute.

The weekend finale culminates with a large-scale immersive performance with 80 dancers and musicians from UB and the local community, including Buffalo String Works, Our Lady of Hope Youth Choir, and the PD Dance Performance Ensemble, enacting concepts related to interstellar communication.

A complete schedule of workshops is available here. Details on the festival’s concluding weekend and a link to purchase tickets is also online.

This year’s festival, with its overarching theme of “PastFuture/FuturePast,” brings seemingly disparate concepts simultaneously into focus, such as geologic time; the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; gravitational, electromagnetic and sound waves; and general relativity.

“This theme shows us that in each moment of our lives we interact with and take the events of the ancient past with us into the future,” says Vaubel, who is among seven UB students to win Fulbright awards for 2019-20.

“I want visitors to walk away feeling that the impossible is possible and realize that powerful unprecedented change can happen when individuals and ideas come together.”