Northern Lights.mn is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented arts agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.

Public Address

Northern Lights: Our First Five Years

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Northern Lights.mn was incorporated in the fall of 2009, although we began programming the previous year. Since then we have commissioned, curated, produced or co-presented work by 759 artists.

The UnConvention  took place during the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul as an investigation into the intersection of participatory media and participatory politics. Organized primarily by Northern Lights.mn in partnership with the Walker Art Center, Intermedia Arts and Forecast Public Art, The UnConvention presaged a model for all of our subsequent programs, serving as a platform for multiple artist, multi-partner, multi-disciplinary, interactive and participatory work that explored and encouraged civic engagement.

Projects presented at The UnConvention included (clockwise from top left):


  • I Approve This Messagean open YouTube platform for people to create videos in response to questions surrounding the scripted nature of presidential nominations and democracy in general

  • My Yard Our Messagea project to solicit political sign designs related to the theme of participatory democracy from artists throughout the world and select the top designs through an online voting process

  • Sharon Hayes, Revolutionary Love 2: I am Your Best Fantasyin presented by Creative Time with Northern Lights.mn and the Walker Art Center. Conflating grassroots political activism, performance art, queer theory, and national politics, New York–based artist Sharon Hayes conceived and staged two large-scale, public performances at both the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions as part of Creative Time’s summer-long, national program Democracy in America: The National Campaign. Hayes recruited and collaborated with 75-100 citizens in each city who became the medium of her work by reciting, in unison, a text written by Hayes that addresses the relationship between political desire and romantic desire. The speakers, drawn from the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community in each city, recited the 10 minute texts approximately 3 times over the course of an hour.

  • ligorano/reese, The State of Things. a temporary sculpture of the word “Democracy” sculpted in ice, part of Provision Library’s “Brushfire” programming leading up to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

SuttonBeresCuller headlined a 3-day symposium “Experimenting with Art in Public Places,” as part of our inaugural Art(ists) On the Verge program with support from the Jerome Foundation.

Inaugural Art(ists) On the Verge fellows Avyes Alexandres, Aniccha Arts, Christopher Baker, Kevin Obsatz, Andrea Steudel, and Krista Kelley Walsh presented their work at the Weisman Art Museum.

Art(ists) On the Verge 2 fellows Arlene Birt, Kyle Phillips, Janaki Ranpura, Tyler Stefanich, and tectonic industries presented their work as part of the Spark Festival of electronic music and art at the University of Minnesota.

Northern Lights.mn was offered the opportunity to commission a project as part of the first year of the Walker Art Center’s Open Field.  Futurefarmers’ A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard was about how “our voice is used to sing, protest, comfort, teach, haggle and express a range of emotions. When voices come together, a panopoly of energetic phenomena can emerge. Using “voice” as a theme to inform making, walking and play. A People Without A Voice Cannot Be Heard consisted of a series of workshops and public events that explored methods to amplify, coordinate and channel our individual and collective voice.

Northern Lights.mn was invited by Public Art Saint Paul and Wing Young Huie to participate in Wing’s University Avenue Project by proposing a “Project(ion) Site,” where there were nightly 2-hour shows beginning at dusk of more than 450 of Wing’s photographs, which he had taken over the prior 4 years, and which were exhibited along a 6-mile stretch of University Avenue.

Northern Lights.mn Board Chair Neal Cuthbert (left) Artistic Director Steve Dietz on the Stone Arch Bridge at the inaugural Northern Spark. We really had no idea if anyone would show up that first year.

In the end, more than 25,000 people participated in 70+ projects by over 200 artists in collaboration with dozens of organizations at multiple locations in both(!) Minneapolis and Saint Paul. 

Check out the following resources about Northern Spark.

Northern Lights.mn collaborated with the Minnesota State Fair to bring five artists from around the world to visit the State Fair and make proposals for a new project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Fine Arts Building. Giant Sing Along – “choir karaoke” –  by Montreal-based Daily Tous Les Jours was selected and after four years, it has become a beloved and permanent attraction for tens of thousands of people at the annual State Fair. Check out this infectious video.

Art(ists) On the Verge 3 fellows Drew Anderson, Michael Hoyt, Caly McMorrow, Anthony Tran, and Aaron Westre presented their work at The Soap Factory, our long-term partners on this year-long mentorship program supported by the Jerome Foundation.

We collaborated with the Walker Art Center for our 2nd biannual symposium, Discourse and Discord: The Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street.

The 2012 Northern Spark was in Minneapolis and is remembered for the Kuramoto Model bike lights that galvanized a huge biking community contingent, among many spectacular projects under the theme of Think and Wonder.

Northern Lights.mn was invited to curate ReGeneration, an exhibition exploring the relationship between sustainability and cultural vitality at the New York Hall of Science. Artists included: Futurefarmers, Shih Chieh Huang, Marisa Jahn and Stephanie Rothenberg, Scott Kildall, Zach Lieberman, The Living and SOFTLab, Carl Skelton, Angelo Vermeulen, Nick Yulman, and Ricardo Miranda ZúñigaInstallation photos.

The Minneapolis Convention Center and The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy of the City of Minneapolis in collaboration with Northern Lights.mn and Meet Minneapolis inaugurate the Creative City Challenge, a competition for Minnesota-resident architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds to create and install at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza an artwork, which is an innovative use of the space and acts as a sociable and participatory platform for scheduled and impromptu onsite programs throughout the summer.

MIMMI is an emotional gateway to Minneapolis, bringing residents and visitors together to experience – and participate in – the collective mood of the city. MIMMI seeks to engage both the virtual and physical layers of the community, using technology to see the city in a new way and also reinforce the serendipitous gathering that has characterized urban life for millennia.

The 2013 Northern Spark was in Saint Paul, principally at Union Depot Station and is remembered for the Chris Larson’s blazing Celebration/Love/Loss among over 100 projects presented. 40,000 people attended.

Northern Spark attendee stats.

Northern Spark attendee stats.

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tpt’s Rewire asked five of the most inventive Twin Cities arts organizations to take over their air, studio, and web for five Friday nights of eclectic, artsy, television-making events – TV Takeover. Each event was uniquely curated by that week’s partner, featuring art, media, dance, music, and food and drinks in front of a live audience.

Northern Lights.mn took over June 6.

The 2014 Northern Spark, Minneapolis, is likely remembered for its torrential, some might say biblical, downpour, which lasted from 9:01 pm till 5:26 am the next morning. Nevertheless, 25,000 souls either dressed for the weather onslaught or treated it like a mosh pit and dove in head first to experience over 100 projects at 27 different locations.

As part of the 2014 Creative City Challenge’s summer-long programming, there were three themed activity days: Play Day, Discovery Day, and Maker Day.

As part of the 2014 Creative City Challenge’s summer-long programming, there were three themed activity days: Play Day, Discovery Day, and Maker Day.

As part of the 2014 Creative City Challenge’s summer-long programming, there were three themed activity days: Play Day, Discovery Day, and Maker Day.

In April 2013, the Union Depot Art Selection and Design Review Panel approved Northern Lights.mn’s schematic design for a two-part Interactive Multimedia Artwork Platform, consisting of a dynamic light sculpture and “Amateur Intelligence Radio.” Our objectives with IMAP were to: Enchant the space; connect people to their environment to make them care about its past, its future – its people, its stories; give passers-by a role in how the building comes to life; stimulate ownership in a playful and active way.

Daily Tous Les Jours created Amateur Intelligence Radio (AIR.) a radio station hosted by a building, St. Paul’s Union Depot. It allows people to connect to this historic setting and to each other. As they come and go, AIR narrates activities within its walls and stages little interventions on the site, both landmark and living room for the city.

AIR shares interactive content provided both by its artificial intelligence and by commuters. Its synthetic voice hosts radio shows dynamically created with real-time data such as weather conditions, the number of people in the room, bus schedules, foot traffic, and more. AIR also has an online platform that allows people to listen and contribute to radio shows from anywhere.

For on-site listening, five interactive stations (Clock, Door, Social, Waiting, and River) allow passersby to plug in and listen to the voice of the building. Each listening station offers a different vantage point of the space, connects to the stories being told, and can be discreet or bold to discover.

To contribute and listen to AIR, visit airstories.mn. Watch the video here.

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In April 2013, the Union Depot Art Selection and Design Review Panel approved Northern Lights.mn’s schematic design for a two-part Interactive Multimedia Artwork Platform, consisting of a dynamic light sculpture and “Amateur Intelligence Radio.” Our objectives with IMAP were to: Enchant the space; connect people to their environment to make them care about its past, its future – its people, its stories; give passers-by a role in how the building comes to life; stimulate ownership in a playful and active way.

Jim Campbell’s 8 1/2 x 11 is a light sculpture that features an array of LEDs hanging from the ceiling of Union Depot’s grand Waiting Room, and displays dynamic figures floating across the sculpture. The low resolution video takes advantage of the 300′ length of the Waiting Room, shimmering clearly in the distance, but as you are drawn in closer and closer, the image disintegrates into sensations of movement, an aliveness that parallels Daily Tous Les Jours’ companion piece, Amateur Intelligence Radio. 

Some production views during installation.

Luftwerk continues to build on their interest in architecture, design, and immersive art experiences with INsite, a site-specific installation at the Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House and Museum. Luftwerk’s interest in developing an installation at the site grew after test projections revealed the building’s unique qualities. Mies van der Rohe’s design—emblematic of the International Style of architecture, which emphasizes straight lines, rigid cantilevers, and no ornamentation—underscores an expression of balance and a harmonious relationship with the natural world. INsite creates a new dialogue with an icon of modern architecture and invites the public to re-discover the Farnsworth House through an unadulterated experience of light.

On October 18 and 19, 2014, nearly 400 people time traveled to the year 2314 to explore the ruins of Minneapolis, a city abandoned and covered in dust. Teams of explorers braved the harsh conditions to dig the ruins, searching for answers about which of six Deadly Problems brought the city to its final ruination.

Ruination: City of Dust is a multiplayer mystery game played on bicycles, using the landscape of Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Creek as a game board. Contemporary environmental science informs the sci-fi narrative, while elements of art intertwine with physical and mental challenges.

On October 18 and 19, 2014, nearly 400 people time traveled to the year 2314 to explore the ruins of Minneapolis, a city abandoned and covered in dust. Teams of explorers braved the harsh conditions to dig the ruins, searching for answers about which of six Deadly Problems brought the city to its final ruination.

Ruination: City of Dust is a multiplayer mystery game played on bicycles, using the landscape of Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Creek as a game board. Contemporary environmental science informs the sci-fi narrative, while elements of art intertwine with physical and mental challenges.

Founded in 2014, fwd:// is an imprint of Northern Lights.mn dedicated to publishing artist apps. The inaugural project is an app version of Piotr Szyhalski’s Ding an sichfirst commissioned for the Walker Art Center’s Gallery 9 in 1997.

From Vannevar Bush’s Memex (1945) to Ted Nelson’s hypermedia (1963) to today’s social media platforms, there is a rich history and context for a virtual public sphere of creative expression. fwd:// supports artists who are exploring this expanded field.

We are interested in the “app” as a new container for earlier media projects, such as net art, as well as new works that take advantage of the capabilities of new platforms.

We produce and present creative work in the expanded spaces of a virtual public sphere.

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To celebrate our 5th festival, we’re challenging our friends to help fund five artist commissions for Northern Spark 2015.

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Public Address

Creative City Challenge Info Session Slides

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Monday, December 1 at 4:30 pm is the deadline to submit your proposal to the Creative City Challenge. Here is the direct link for the online submission form. These are slides from the Information Session about the Challenge. If you have questions, email creativecitychallenge@northern.lights.mn.


 

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Lisa Jevbratt, 1:1 (2), Interface - Every, 1999-2002

Lisa Jevbratt, 1:1 (2), Interface – Every, 1999-2002

Heard a segment on The World tonight on the “Dark Side of the Web.” The piece focused on police action against illegal activities on the “dark web,” many of them reprehensible, but it also made me think of Lisa Jevbratt’s project 1:1, which she first created when part of the artist collaborative C5 in 1999 – only a year after Google was founded.

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Public Address

Creative City Challenge Info Session

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Info session: Wednesday, November 5, 6 pm, Room 102B, Minneapolis Convention Center https://www.facebook.com/events/599060416882776/

Find out about the $75,000 Creative City Challenge. How can you make the best proposal possible? What will the jury be looking for? What are the pragmatic issues of producing a project on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza? What does it mean for the public to participate in your project? What are some of the ways to think about site specificity? What has been the experience in past years?

Jeff Johnson, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Convention Center, Gulgun Kayim, Director of the Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis, and Steve Dietz, Artistic Director of Northern Lights.mn will be on hand to talk about the competition and to answer your questions.

Come with your questions. There will be a chance to tour the Plaza at 5:30 pm before the info session at at 7 pm afterwards.

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Northern Lights.mn seeks performers for Ruination: City of Dust, an interactive, site-specific game produced with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and game designer WriterGuy Ken Eklund, and in partnership with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. More →


Public Address

Luftwerk: INsite

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Luftwerk, INsite test, 2012.
Photo: Kate Joyce

From October 17-20, 2014 the critically-acclaimed artist duo of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, known as Luftwerk, will bring INsite, a temporary public art exhibition, to Farnsworth House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. More →


Public Address

Jim Campbell: 8 1/2 x 11

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8 1/2 x 11

8 1/2 x 11 by Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell’s new installation at St. Paul’s Union Depot, 8 1/2 x 11, commissioned by Northern Lights, is now up! More →


Gallery
Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011 Northern Spark 2011

Gallery
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Art(ists) on the Verge, 2010: The Inside and the Outside

by Ann Klefstad
Art(ists) on the Verge is the second iteration of a fellowship program run by Northern Lights.mn with the support of the Jerome Foundation. Five artists who do interesting things with new media technology were chosen by a jury to create new works, four of which then were exhibited side by side with artists chosen to represent the visual side of the Spark Festival of electronic music and arts.
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Gallery
Krista Kelley Walsh, Public Eye Action Krista Kelley Walsh, Public Eye Action Aniccha Arts, The Weather Vein Project, 2009 Aniccha Arts, The Weather Vein Project, 2009 Aniccha Arts, The Weather Vein Project, 2009 Aniccha Arts performing Cloud Turn excerpt Aniccha Arts performing Cloud Turn exceprt Christopher Baker, Murmur Study, 2009 Christopher Baker, Murmur Study, 2009 Christopher Baker, Murmur Study, 2009 Christopher Baker, HPVS (Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome) 2009 Christopher Baker, HPVS (Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome) 2009 Christopher Baker, HPVS (Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome) 2009 Installation view, Weisman Art Museum for Art(ists) on the Verge: 2008-2009 Northern Lights/Jerome Emerging Artists Commissions Avye Alexandres, Once, 2009 Avye Alexandres, Once, 2009 Avye Alexandres, Once, 2009 Avye Alexandres, Once, 2009 Avye Alexandres, Once, 2009 Kevin Obsatz, The Gate to the Enclosure, 2009 Kevin Obsatz, The Gate to the Enclosure, 2009 Kevin Obsatz, The Gate to the Enclosure, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009 Andrea Steudel, Triquetera, 2009

Art(ists) On the Verge at the Weisman Art Museum

Artists on the Verge 2008-2009 at the Weisman Art Museum features works or documentation of works made by the inaugural group of Art(ists) on the Verge fellows. Installations of all six commissions are included. Artists are Aniccha Arts (led by Pramila Vasudevan), Avye Alexandres, Christopher Baker, Kevin Obstatz, Andrea Steudel, and Krista Kelley Walsh.
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