When things collide

Apr. 11, 2014 @ 10:49 AM

Meredith Burgess of American Underground put the finishing touches on a sign that invites visitors to “come play” and help build a Rube Goldberg machine. The structure of the machine was just beginning to take shape in the green space across from CCB Plaza downtown during the second day of Paradoxos 2014.

The machine is one of many participatory activities organizers are offering during the second year of the event. Today artist Dave Alsobrooks and Wanona Satcher, program manager for the city’s Durham Urban Innovation Center, will lead participants in what Satcher calls a “pop-up dialogue space.” For this art installation, they have nailed together pallets to create six cubicles. Each cubicle will contain participants’ suggestions about tackling issues such as poverty, housing, education and transit.
Visitors also may watch guest artists Derek Toomes and Mathew Curran paint a mural on the green wall that overlooks the green space that is now called Paradoxos Village.
The goal of Paradoxos is “to collide people and ideas,” or, as Adam Klein, chief strategist of American Underground, puts it “collide the different strengths of Durham.” Those strengths include entrepreneurship, the arts, food, beer and more. With Paradoxos, organizers want people engaged in these different endeavors to come together “in a way that fosters creativity,” Klein said.
American Underground, a company that helps start-up enterprises, is one of the sponsors of Paradoxos. Other sponsors include Downtown Durham Inc. and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.
At the center of all this collision is the idea of bridging gaps and building community. The “pop-up dialogue space,” for example, grew out of meetings and discussions Satcher had with Durham residents from different parts of the city, and of different ages. The art installation will reflect their concerns about the city. Once completed, the installation will be taken to the Thanksgiving in Spring event in May, “so we can keep the dialogue going,” Satcher said.
MaryBeth Panagos, director of business development with the RTP firm Kymanox, compares Paradoxos to an “intellectual maelstrom.” She organized one of today’s events, called The Next, a series of lectures, demonstrations and performances beginning at 9 a.m. at the Carolina Theatre. Mike Bechtel of Ring Leader Ventures calls his presentation “Oedipus Wrecks: Startups Don’t Have to Kill Their Fathers’ Businesses.” Alice Gray Stites of the 21c Museum Hotel will discuss "Experiential Engagement: The Form and Function of Immersive Art," and Scott Swimmer of Drumstrong will lead a participatory audience drumming session.
The Rube Goldberg project also is a community building exercise meant to “collide artists with tech people,” said Taylor Mingos of shoeboxed.com, one of the sponsors of Paradoxos. Anyone can participate in making and designing the machine. “We’re very organic, which means we’re loosely organized here,” Mingos said.
That’s another way of saying it will take a village – a Paradoxos Village – to make this Rube Goldberg machine run.

Go and Do

WHAT: Paradoxos 2014
WHERE: The green space on Corcoran, Main and Parrish streets, and other venues
WHEN: Events, lectures and activities continue all day today
ADMISSION: Admission to the green space is a suggested $5 one-day donation. (No one will be turned away.) For information and a full schedule, visit www.paradoxos.co.