Hi, I’m Walker Tufts. I am an artist and game designer. My work explores our relationship to others (human and more-than-human) through games, exhibitions, dinner parties, and performances. With various collaborators I makes games that playfully place player’s bodies in physical relationship with global systems, dirt, bodies and microbiomes. I am currently an MFA candidate at University at Buffalo.

Below you will find brief introductions to my projects. You can learn more at Kosmologym, Dirty Time, and Listening With.


UPCOMING & ONGOING

ONGOING:
Dirty Library • Flux at ARoS • ARoS Atelier • Aarhus, DK • August-September • more info
Dirty Library • Flux Island • 404A Colonels Row • Governors Island, NY • July-October • more info
Dirtball 3 • Winterfield Community Garden, Charlotte, NC • more info
Dirtball 2 • Governors Island, NYC, NY • Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm • more info
Dirtball 1 • Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN, USA • more info


AUTOLYSIS

  • Goethe Institut: Boston • Boston, MA, US • June 2022
    Autolysis was a poetic and visceral exploration of issues around climate change, plant species adaptation/extinction, and personal mortality through a focus on/engagement with soil/dirt. More info


DIRTBALL 3

  • An aerial photo of folks playing on the experimental concrete basketball key, the garden key and the swift tower.
  • Winterfield Community Garden • Charlotte, NC, US • May 2022
    Our third Dirtball Court, built in collaboration with the Winterfield Community Garden in East Charlotte. Dirtball is a love letter to dirt in the form of a reimagined basketball court that frames the soil making process. Dirtball’s experimental concrete is designed to be destroyed and in the process release minerals and amendments into the surrounding soil. The garden and swift tower invite more than humans to play. More info


FACE PLANT

  • A body in orange sweatshirt and blue pants with brown boots lays with their face in a hole.
  • Project Space • University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, US • Spring 2022
    FACE PLANT is an experiment in inviting a shared human/soil holobiome. FACE PLANT makes space for the biome that populates and constitutes the 'boundary' of my body and the biome that populates a specific hole in the ground near Ellicott Creek. Optimistically this microbial playground imagines new collaborations and communication between humans and more-than-humans. Pessimistically, this very communication might be in desperation as we work to outpace the impact of climbing global temperatures as they drag a variety of fungi into a temperature tolerance closer to the human body. More info


DIRT BATH

  • ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum • Aarhus, DK • August 2021
    Dirt Bath is inspired by the kinds of baths that birds take in dirt, and by an impulse that letting people immerse themselves sensorially in the smells and textures of topsoil, within the sterile context of a contemporary art museum, might be grounding during post-Covid-lockdown days, and have therapeutic qualities related to the contemplation of personal mortality.

    Produced collaboratively with Heather Kapplow as a part of an ARoS Public artist residency.

    Photo credit: Heather Kapplow More photos here


Dirtball: Governors Island

  • A white and green basketball backboard against a dramatic cloudy sky. Most of the court is grass, one key is a garden and  the other is made of concrete pavers. This is a photo of the first Dirtball court at Franconia Sculpture Park.
  • Governors Island • NYC, NY, US • Saturdays and Sundays 12-4pm
    Play Dirtball! You can find NYC’s Dirtball court tucked beneath a London Plane tree in the Urban Farm on Governors Island. Dirtball invites you to join birds, bugs, plants, minerals and weather in the soil making game always going on beneath our feet. Here for more about Dirtball.


Dirtball: Fruiting Body

  • A white and green basketball backboard against a dramatic cloudy sky. Most of the court is grass, one key is a garden and  the other is made of concrete pavers. This is a photo of the first Dirtball court at Franconia Sculpture Park.
  • Art Prospect • online/onsite Harrisonburg, VA, US • 2020
    Dirtball: Fruiting Body is a structural prototype of a soil monitoring buoy in the form of a giant overturned mushroom where the sky scratching mycelium host miniature components of a Dirtball court and a flag for the future DIY Dirtball.
    Art Prospect website


Martin Dance

  • Flux Factory Benefit Auction • NYC, NY, US • 2019
    Martin Dance is a purple martin hotel with a two-person head mounted labyrinth. Players collaboratively navigate the labyrinth by moving their bodies and trace the migration of a purple martin from the Amazonian rainforest to Erie, PA, USA. An accompanying soundtrack is composed from the song of migrating purple martins.


Assemball

  • VEGA Arts • Copenhagen, DK • 2019
    ASSEMBALL offers players a physical way to explore human organizational structures by precariously binding them together. Jerseys and connectors turn teams into representation of various organizations.
    >Tournament Match 1 Booklet


Dirtball

  • Dirtball is an invitation to a game that is always going on beneath our feet. The court invites you to join this soil making game along with birds, bugs, plants, minerals and weather.
    Learn More


Plastic Dance

  • With marble mazes and head mounted labyrinths Plastic Dance explores the path of plastic from the streets of Philadelphia through streams and sewers to the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers and then the North Atlantic Gyre.
    Learn More


Tasty Score

  • Tasty Score is a human powered drum machine that converts recipes into interactive percussion scores. Commissioned for the Art Prospect Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia the first Tasty Score converted recipes from the Soviet “Book for Tasty and Healthy Food”.


The Long Dash

  • paddles and map
  • playing in the patent library at the Franklin Institute
  • playing in the patent library at the Franklin Institute
  • playing in the patent library at the Franklin Institute
  • The Long Dash, a collaborative climate resiliency race, was created for the Philadelphia Science Festival. The Long Dash explores Philadelphia’s relationship to climate change and sea level rise through a cumulative choreographic challenge: part twister, part egg-race, part algorithmic choreography.


Kosmologym: Gym

  • Kosmologym converted Den Frie into an experimental ethics gym. Kosmologym prototyped five games that challenged visitors to consider, compete or cooperate with others (human/animal, vegetable, mineral, institution). With FUKK & Camp Little Hope see Kosmologym.DK for more info.


Rise

  • With Rise, Camp Little Hope repurposes a historic stairway at Glen Foerd to imagine the potential impact of sea level rise on different neighborhoods and landmarks in Philadelphia. Using mirrored text and the heights of the existing stairs, Rise connects global phenomena with the history of Glen Foerd and the future of the city of Philadelphia. Learn more at Camp Little Hope


Hospitality Machines v1.2

  • Digital interfaces and built infrastructure often optimize a frictionless experience that makes the medium itself invisible and reduces consideration of the framework and our actions in it. As we move towards an internet of things, shrinking public space, and imagined smart cities, it becomes urgent that we develop more robust systems to consider human’s relationship to each other and non-human others.

    While technology evolves quickly, driven by the free market, the artificial externalization of environmental costs, and planned obsolescence there is no market force to develop means of ethically interacting with these new technologies and the institutions they create. I believe new forms of hospitality and intimacy are crucial to systemic change.

    At Practice Space in Portland I revisited and expanded on the Hospitality Machine, a straightforward approach to how art might interrogate our relationship with others. A human to human meditation, a human to plant meditation and a small library invited visitors to consider an other.


Kitchens & Capitalism: Saint Petersburg

  • During a CECArtsLink Back Apartment Residency in Saint Petersburg I researched the recent history of the Russian kitchen particularly in the kommunalka or communal apartment. I also became fascinated with The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food (Книга о вкусной и здоровой пище). First published in 1939, this Soviet cookbook saw dramatic changes in 1951, 1965, 1976 and 1999 offering an interesting official portrait of changing relationships to land, food and the kitchen. You can learn more about my research here.


MED LOV SKAL MAN LAND BYGGE : Nordhavn Walking Tour

  • MED LOV, a walking tour and conversation, juxtaposed the 1891 formation of Copenhagen’s FriHavn (free harbor) as an economic tool to compete with Germany’s Kiel Canal and the current expansion and gentrification of Nordhavn which is helping fund the construction of new Metro lines. Med Lov was commissioned by FUKK for Kulturhavn's Anchorpoints. Performed with with Maria Teilgård.


Recipes for Utopias

  • Meals provide a point of friction where global systems intersect with local bodies. Every detail, from how we harvest, grow, care for, and eventually collect the ingredients, to the way we prepare, serve, and attend to a dish as we eat it expresses our beliefs about the world and our relationship to it. What’s for dinner tells us as much, if not more, about a utopia than any other detail. As part of Utopia School Recipes for Utopias explored the everyday practicalities of radical realities through a performative dinner that prepared dishes from 13 utopias. With Lena Hawkins, Tim Nicholas, and Will Owen

    Cookbook

Dirtmaker and the Handmade Landscape

  • Camp Little Hope spent six weeks working in and around Cullowhee, North Carolina on a sculptural intervention for the Western Carolina University campus trail system. Handmade Landscape (May 19 - August 26 2016) is an arts and research exhibition exploring the geography, botany and the impact of recent human land use on Gribble Gap. The research presented in the exhibit informed the creation of Dirtmaker, an environmental sculpture installed in the forest. As Dirtmaker disappears, it replenishes the depleted minerals in the forest’s soil.

    Project Blog

Chamber of Commons

  • Camp Little Hope was commissioned to create a public artwork for Elsewhere’s South Elm Projects. Much of the available historical material came from reports published by the Chamber of Commerce that focused on the neighborhood through the lenses of business interests and classic economic development. We created alternative publications focused on the many resources that escape notice when viewed through a traditional economic perspective. Community, not as a collection of infrastructure and services, but as relationships and interdependence. Economy, not measured in total revenues but in the impact of meaningful work and fair compensation. Development, not in dollars invested but in connections created and problems solved. Culture that already thrives in our neighborhoods instead of something that needs to be introduced.

    Project Website


The Ranch & the Lost Restaurant

  • As a Frontier Fellow at Epicenter in Green River, UT I became obsessed with an abandoned ranch house kitchen, a lost restaurant and a memorable molasses cookie. You can read more here.


Perpetual Piñata Parlour

  • Perpetual Piñata Parlour, with Flux Factory, was a four-day carnival about bureaucracy, capitalism, and language barriers that was presented in St. Petersburg, Russia for Art Prospect Festival. Visitors to the festival were guided by miming facilitators through a series of lost-in-translation American and Russian folk games, accumulating points of unclear value before participating in a collective piñata-breaking ceremony. This project commissioned by CEC ArtsLink.


Kitchens & Capitalism

  • Kitchens & Capitalism examined the way different types of kitchens resist and/or replicate capitalism. The exhibit collected drawings of different kinds of kitchens: historical, home, collective, and industrial. Performances & conversations examined ways of performing the kitchen and how these shape our worldview. The exhibit opened with a time-traveling pancake potluck. Pancakes were made with einkorn, one of the earliest cultivated grains; Kernza, a perennial grain currently under development at The Land Institute in Kansas; and Corn flour, a contemporary staple grain. As part of our research I am mapping and remodelling Flux Factory’s collective kitchen.

    This project funded by Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.


  • Hospitality Machines

    A guided meditation inspired by the writing of Levinas, Habermas, and Anne Dufourmantelle. The meditation is a paired experience, two people staring into each others’ eyes, physically and philosophically confronting the other. For the gallery a small shelter with a bench places visitors knee to knee with their mediation partner. Live performances vary based on site.


Dol Corwenna

  • A climate change and biosecurity garden that connects the town center with a new railway platform. Planted species are selected for their resistance to predicted conditions, and threatened features of the field are highlighted with landscaping and signage. When mature, the garden will consist of a wildflower meadow, a small orchard, a tree-lined path, and a raised flower bed. The garden design adopts local visual vernacular, so while it explicitly warns of local effects of global issues it is camouflaged within the expected view from a countryside train platform. This approach allows the project to co-opt the landscape surrounding Dol Corwenna through visual association: after visiting the field you might see the Welsh landscape itself as an evolving indicator of global conditions.


Corwen Field Stwdio

  • Camp Little Hope returned to Corwen to launch the Corwen Field Stwdio. The Corwen Field Stwdio explored how an arts-led awareness of the local environment - built, natural, and cultural - can shape community-conscious regeneration efforts. Events, workshops, and exhibitions took place at 15 Bridge Street (the Old Spar), The Field Beside the Car Park, and around Corwen. The Stwdio worked with local groups, residents, artists, and schoolchildren to explore roles art and The Field could play in Corwen. Corwen Field Stwdio investigated models for a future residency program and demonstrated how an art project can be a community collaboration that helps shape the development of Corwen. Corwen Field Stwdio Website


Corwen: Artist in Residence

  • Camp Little Hope was commissioned by the Corwen Partnership, the Arts Council of Wales, and Addo, to imagine creative uses for a field that separates Corwen’s Town Square from the future platform of the Llangollen Railway. We developed three long term strategies for the field and town: Gardd Ceridwen (a platform for exploring biosecurity), the Toiledau Residency, and the Wayfinding project. We explored specific aspects of each strategy through art interventions.


Bibotorium

  • The Bibotorium was an educational saloon and public think-tank. Camp Little Hope explored the future of water in Philadelphia through conversations with our visitors: tourists, neighbors, students, amateurs and experts. During the Hidden City Festival we worked on site, designing solutions to various issues affecting Philadelphia’s water and building boats to reference the implications of future water environments. By creating a space that is both social and scientific, we encouraged radical and imaginative conversations to address serious problems.


One Minute Film Festival: 10 Years

  • The One Minute Film Festival took place annually in a barn outside of a small town in upstate New York, on the first Saturday after the 4th of July, from 2003-2012. Organized and hosted by artists Jason Simon and Moyra Davey, the festival samples a decade through the participation of hundreds of makers: ten years spanning the extremes of George Bush and Barack Obama, of You Tube and the near ubiquity of video within cultural institutions.


Construct Decay

  • A series of experiments investigating the role of automation and reproduction. Sculptural components were hand-manufactured, made in great enough multiples to pique curiosity as to their purpose. Video was also used to further extend the quantity of the hand-manufactured. Other videos used automation, like Photoshop CS5s content-aware fill, to generate entirely new work through the accretion of minor changes.


Picket Wheel

  • The Picket Wheel was a conversational catalyst and urban/rural intervention activating dialogues about private property, landscape, the gaze, and the commons. Rolling the Picket Wheel down the street opened conversations with pedestrians, cyclists, and almost as often drivers who would pull over to investigate


Blue Nile

  • Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine occupies two levels of a former hotel in downtown Harrisonburg. An Ethiopian restaurant & bar upstairs with a bar & music venue in the basement. The original Blue Nile brought Ethiopian Cuisine to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Moving to a larger location and opening a music venue the Blue Nile played an important role in Harrisonburg’s downtown revitalization.


The Public Table

  • The Public Table, with spurse, was a provisional free restaurant traveling from New Haven, CT to Bellows Falls, VT and ending in Cambridge, MA. The materials, both for the installations and meals, were gleaned. The number of dishes, size of the dishes, number of ingredients, type of ingredients and amounts of each were determined by an algorithm driven by a walk taken earlier in the day. The interiors of each restaurant were driven by the available materials in the different location


Past Collaborations

Salt & Cedar

Production Assistant

A letterpress studio in historic Eastern Market, Detroit that produces custom design work and printed matter. Within the 3,000- sq. ft. space, farm-to-table food events, a pop-up cinema, exhibitions, dinner theatres, readings, design lectures, live music, and special curricular offerings are slated with a diversity of cultural and creative partners. Megan O'Connell and Leon Johnson direct this complex of events, production, and potentialities

Elsewhere

Communications Curator

Elsewhere is a living museum using the massive collection of its former thrift store to build futures from old things. We generate collaborative creativity in our downtown neighborhood and across the globe.

Mildred's Lane

Research Librarian & Archivist

Mildred's Lane, a rustic, 96-acre site deep in the woods, a home, and an experiment in living, is an ongoing collaboration between J. Morgan Puett, Mark Dion, their son Grey Rabbit Puett, and their friends and colleagues. Mildred’s Lane attempts to coevolve a rigorous pedagogical strategy, where a working-living-researching environment has been developed to foster engagement with every aspect of life.

Spurse

Collaborator

Spurse is a research and design collaborative that catalyzes critical issues into collective action. Through a playful transformation of conceptual and material systems, spurse develops problems worth having and worlds worth making, engaging across scales and complexities of all things human and nonhuman, organic and non- organic. Spurse begin every endeavor by locating ourselves of the world, not merely in the world.