Donald Hải Phú Daedalus grew up in the shadow of the country's largest public observatory, an area so remote and sparsely populated it served as the first plutonium-processing plant for the Manhattan Project. Shortly after the oldest human remains in North America were discovered near his hometown, Donald attended the University of Washington, where, coincidentally, the remains were held while a decade-long legal dispute between the native Kennewick tribe and anthropologists played out in court. He was a Ferguson Fellow and Richardson Fellow; Daedalus completed studies in continental and applied philosophy before embarking on an interdisciplinary art degree. In the post-911 climate that reelected George W. Bush, he voluntarily expatriated to Spain, where the housing bubble was ripening. He lived in Barcelona studying Ildefons Cerdà's l'Eixample and painting and drawing. He returned to the U.S. to complete his graduate studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he focused on new media, film and performance.
Daedalus moved to New York after being commission by Franklin Furnace to create "Doppelgänger Effect," (2010/2011) which merged his interest in sight, urbanism and sound. "Doppler Shift," commissioned by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the continuation of DE, was mounted the following year, and coincided with his participation in Sound Development City's first expeditionary residency in Berlin, London, and Zurich. Returning to New York, he was invited to join the then recently-founded Critical Practices, Inc., founded by the first generation Conceptual artist and art critic, Saul Ostrow.
In the fall of 2012, Donald founded Lugubrious New York, a digital artist book publishing platform later that year. The first publication was with British artist Steve Rosenthal.
In 2013 Daedalus staged his first solo show in Latin America at LA Galeria in Bogotá, Colombia, entitled "Imagined Bonds, Impossible Escape." He created glass sculptures for the exhibition, each capturing a stage in the evolution of the representation of black holes. The sculptures were made while in residence at Campos de Gutierrez, in MedellÍn, the former home to the notorious Pablo Escobar. While there, he was invited to document the world’s largest escalator, located in the impoverished Commune 11, which is the focus of his upcoming book on power and ambulation.
A scholarship and residency at The Center for Book Arts brought Daedalus back to the U.S., where he presented "bookEnd," a sculptural and digital meditation on the transference of information formats in the consumer economy. His 2014 work, "The Digization Of Information And Its Physical Components," led to a panel discussion on archival practices with D. Graham Burnett, Matt Wolf, Lyle Shaw, and Emilio Chapela.
The 2014 Whitney Biennial invited Critical Practices, Inc., to facilitate three round table discussions for the Whitney Biennial and Volta Art Fair; later that year Daedalus curated three discussions at First Street Green park, concerning public space. Drawing on the knowledge of urban gardeners and activists also in residence Flux Factory, he began work on Illinois River Project, which he presented for the 2015 Bronx Biennial and the second prototype in Redneck Fishing Tournament in Bath, IL, in 2016.
To arrive to new ideas I invent new tools. A tool can be a workflows, a physical instrument, or a methodology; they may become part of the project which are being aided or may be discarded. Projects themselves may be tools for a subsequent project. Even with tools, there may not be clear defined end points to my projects so failure is welcome while the possibilities are being played out. The physical instruments may be reimagined as a sculpture include; familiar materials included but are not limited to: wood, glass, projectors, mercury, human remains, cinnabar, megaphones, bicycles, aluminum, cameras or photograph. I make videos in a similar fashion; they may be instrumental or exists as an end point, for a period of time. The genre of videos I create most closely resembles experimental documentary. Artist books have been crucial for me to answer this question of how to work when all works are basically in flux; familiar format of the book allows me to have succinct beginnings and endings to projects that could otherwise sprawl for decades.
The motivation and inspiration for creative production most closely resembles suspicion. I'm suspicious of what I’ve read, seen or heard and think, "maybe if I visualize it, or visualize it differently, some confirmation or refutation can occur.” In essence, I’m thinking that seeing is believing, or believing is seeing (and that faith, the opposite of suspicion, has nothing to do with either believing nor seeing). At the same time you know it’s easiest to explain a plan by drawing a diagram in the dirt with a stick.
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