Northern Spark Preview

Art All Night. Community All Year.

Saint Paul, Minn. – March 12, 2013 – Northern Spark announced today the partners that will be participating in the free, dusk-to-dawn, nuit blanche, which will ignite Saint Paul’s Lowertown in an explosion of urban art. The festival will be held on Saturday (into Sunday morning), June 8, 2013 from 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. with the main hub at Union Depot, hosting nearly 25 projects. Performances, visual arts, projected images, interactive media, and participatory events will bring together a multitude of artists who create art projects in partnership with numerous arts organizations at multiple venues. The public is invited to join this all-night adventure to see the city in a new light.

Volunteers are also needed for a range of interactive tasks. Click here for more information.

“With the reopening of the historic Union Depot, the continuing expansion and development of Lowertown businesses and the ballpark construction underway, the Lowertown district, known for its vibrant arts culture, is only becoming more lively. This unique festival is a wonderful way to showcase our arts community in a distinctive way,” stated Mayor Chris Coleman.

This year the festival expects nearly 72 projects in collaboration with 47 cultural organizations and sponsors.

A snapshot of projects include:

  • A site-specific roving performance at Union Depot by artist Patrick Ganert blending history with fictional narratives from 1917 through today.
  • A live installation by Monica Haller that sonically links the Upper Mississippi with the Louisiana bayous.
  • St. Paul’s Big Table Studio and Printland Press team up with Minneapolis letterpress shop Lunalux to help visitors create travel-themed, handmade prints.
  • The Schubert Club invites visitors to play a harpsichord and a fortepiano while overlooking the river from Union Depot’s windows.
  • All-night crafty interventions on 4th St. related to art work at Minnesota Museum of American Art’s Project Space by Liz Miller, Andréa Stanislav and Randy Walker.
  • The Center for Hmong Art and Talent bring its Fresh Traditions Fashion show to an unconventional runway at Union Depot.
  • Art Shanty Projects will transform an out-of-the-way parking lot near the river into a site of artistic intervention and exploration.
  • Works Progress, who brought the Mississippi Megalops to Northern Spark in 2011, returns with a sunrise river cruise aboard the Jonathan Padelford.

Additional partners involved include:

air sweet air • Hack Factory • innova Recordings • Landmark Center • Minneapolis College of Art and Design • Minnesota Children’s Museum • Minnesota Historical Society • Mizna • Minnesota Sacred Harp Singing Convention • • Minnesota Museum of American Art Individual artists and artist groups involved include:

Chris Larson, John Keston, Piotr Szyhalski, Monica Haller, Ben Moren and Daniel Dean, Jennifer Newsome Carruthers and Tom Carruthers, Roger Nieboer/lesser mortals, Paul Herwig, Christopher Field and Sarah West, Angela Olson and Gilberto Vazquez Valle

The festival is pleased to be working with Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) as our media sponsor this year.

About Northern

Northern presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to foster new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.

Open Call for Projects: Northern Spark 2013

This is an open call for up to 10 projects in any medium for Northern Spark, June 8, 2013.

Application deadline

Midnight, CST, March 4, 2013


This year, rather than a one-size-fits-all honorarium, we are putting a ceiling on proposed project budgets: $2,500. Not all projects will require this, and we will be consciously selecting a range of project budgets from $500 to $2,500.

  • $2,500 – 2 commissions
  • $1,500 – 2 commissions
  • $500 – 6 commissions

More Information


Finalists for Creative City Challenge announced

(MINNEAPOLIS) — Jan. 30, 2013 — Five finalists have been chosen for the final phase of the Creative City Challenge at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Nominees were selected through public voting which took place on the Minneapolis Convention Center Facebook site. Finalists and their corresponding projects include:

Futures North, LakeForms: a digitally fabricated pavilion that emerges from the Convention Center plaza. Inside the pavilion, learn about the lakes’ ecology and summer uses in an immersive sensory environment, consisting of real-time audio and visual information collected from “smart buoys” installed in the city’s lakes.

INVIVIA in collaboration with Urbain/d/rc, MIMMI: a visiting organism that collects and reflects the aggregate mood of Minneapolis, changing in color, shape, and climatic behavior depending on residents’ emotions. Everyone can enjoy MIMMI’s company and both watch and participate in her changing behavior while enjoying the city and connecting with new places and people!

JeFe Design Collective, MPLS rope densCITY: emphasizing Minneapolis’ eco-focused, healthy culture, “MPLS Rope densCity” looks to discarded rock climbing rope as a material. By anchoring, hanging, wrapping, and allowing people to swing from this discarded material, a temporary portal is created between the Minneapolis Convention Center and the city; a portal that engages site, people, and material in interactivity.

Krause + Sowinski, You Are Here: a combination of urban wayfinding with creative placemaking. The meta-map and the giant red arrow form the center of a vital diagram of downtown Minneapolis, connecting the Convention Center plaza to the best parts of the city. “You Are Here” strengthens the downtown pedestrian experience, making Minneapolis an even better place to explore.

Locus Architecture, RIPPLE: public space as sculpture activated by weather for enticing people to enjoy experiences in their city. Assembled from 20 foot steel fronds capped with LED lights, “RIPPLEʼs” urban room provides the venue for serendipitous meetings between residents and artists, visitors and aspiring gymnasts.

The goals of the Creative City Challenge are to draw residents of the city to the Minneapolis Convention Center as a central meeting space for the surrounding area as well as to provide a compelling gathering site for the Minneapolis Convention Center’s thousands of visitors spring through fall. Achieving these objectives will encourage further exploration of downtown and other areas around the city.

The purpose of the competition is to create and install a temporary, interactive, site-specific, eco-focused “portal” to the City of Minneapolis on the Plaza of the Minneapolis Convention Center beginning summer 2013. The final contenders are asked to develop a complete proposal for the project which will be juried in a public presentation Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in University of Minnesota’s Rapson Hall. The presentation is a free event with reception to follow in the HGA Gallery. Tickets and reservations are not required to attend the event.

The jury will make a final selection based on how well the developer includes each element of the evaluation criteria including, Artistic Excellence, Temporary, Interactive, Site-Specific, Eco-focused, Portal and Creative Placemaking. National jurists, Mona El Khafif, associate professor of architecture and head of the URBANlab at California College of the Arts and Daily Tous Les Jours design studio will participate in the selection process.

The winning entry will be announced shortly after the public event and will receive a $50,000 all-inclusive fee to design, create, install and uninstall the project. The development will be installed in the MCC Plaza in early summer and will inhabit the space for the duration of the summer.

Minneapolis city partners for the Creative City Challenge include the office of Mayor R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis City Council and the city coordinator’s office. Additional information can be found online at The goals of the Creative City Challenge are driven by the new direction of the Minneapolis Convention Center and the City’s efforts to celebrate the creative assets of Minneapolis, aim to draw attention to the City’s natural assets and attract new talent to the area.

New research done by the City’s Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program regarding jobs and employment in the creative sector shows that Minneapolis has over four times the national average of architects and designers. While this is a cause for celebration, the data also demonstrates that jobs for architecture and designers have decreased by nearly 20% in the last ten years and nearly 10% in the last three years.

Fellowship Opportunity: Art(ists) On the Verge 5

Northern announces a call for a fifth round of Art(ists) on the Verge commissions (AOV5), which will take place from April 2013 – March 2014.

AOV is an intensive, mentor-based fellowship program for 5 Minnesota-based, emerging artists or artist groups working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on network-based practices that are interactive and/or participatory. AOV is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation. Links to past AOV programs and fellows’ work can be found here.


Monday, February 11, 2013. Submission form here.

More information here.

Art(ists) On the Verge 4 Fellows

Northern announces the recipients of the fourth round of Art(ists) on the Verge commissions (AOV4). AOV4 is an intensive, mentor-based fellowship program for 5 Minnesota-based, emerging artists or artist groups working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on network-based practices that are interactive and/or participatory.

Artists: Christopher Houltberg, Sarah Julson, Mad King Thomas, Asia Ward, and Anthony Warnick

Congratulations from the jury: Steve Dietz, Artistic Director, Northern; Ben Heywood, Executive Director, The Soap Factory; Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, Canadian Film Centre; and AOV4 Co-Director, Piotr Szyhalski.

Thanks to artist mentors: Melinda Childs, Jeff Crouse, Alexa Horochowski, Matt Olson, Sarah Peters, and Marcus Young,

AOV4 artists will exhibit their work at the Soap Factory, May 4-26, 2013.

Art(ists) On the Verge is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Creative City Challenge at the Minneapolis Convention Center

Donate to Play

Want to check out David Byrne’s Playing the Building installation at Aria at the Jeune Lune? A $50 donation to Northern on Give to the Max Day (you can schedule it now, btw), scores you a free ticket, thanks to our friends at First & First.

Your Support

Northern takes art to the streets.

Northern Spark is one of our best known programs. It is a multidisciplinary Minnesota festival–a free, dusk to dawn participatory public art event throughout Minneapolis* from the Greenway to the Mississippi. In 2012, 40,000 people experienced 118 works by over 200 artists in more than 28 venues in collaboration with 52 cultural partners.

In 2013, we’ll be returning to Saint Paul! Your contribution makes this metrowide community event possible.

Northern supports emerging artists.

Art(ists) On the Verge is an intensive, mentor-based fellowship program for 5 Minnesota-based, emerging artists or artist groups working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on network-based practices that are interactive and/or participatory. Now in its fourth year, AOV is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Northern supports artists who rock our world.

Northern Lights has commissioned, co-commissioned and co-presented many extraordinary artists, including Futurefarmers, Mona El-Khafif, Sharon Hayes, ligorano + reese, Wing Young Huie, David Goldes, Monica Haller, Andrea Stanislav, Jim Campbell, Chris Larson, Mark Shepard, Marisa Jahn, Shih Chieh Huang, Zach Lieberman, Angelo Vermeulen, The Living, SOFTlab, Daily Tous Les Jours, Piotr Szyhalski, and many others. If you have experienced the Giant Sing Along at the Minnesota State Fair, you have seen Northern at work.

Northern supports new ideas.

This spring, Northern Lights presented in collaboration with the Walker Art Center, our 2nd biannual symposium: Discourse and Discord: Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street. “In an era of cultural conservatives and the liberal elite, Occupiers and Tea Partiers, civil uprisings and government crackdowns, perhaps the one point of agreement today is there’s no shortage of disagreement. But if that’s true, then why isn’t there more debate—not online flame wars, not the televised jockeying of political candidates, but live, in-person dialogue?”

Northern supports collaboration.

The very first Northern Lights initiated and produced was the UnConvention, a multi-partner, multi-venue program about the intersection of participatory politics and participatory media during the 2008 Republication National Convention. We have worked with dozens of organizations locally and nationally. Our goal is the best way to support innovative artists, spark important ideas, and build supportive audiences. As often as not this is best done in collaboration.

We are dedicated to the least amount of infrastructure that is necessary to support the most innovative artists with the greatest impact. This means more bang for your buck.

Your support makes Northern possible.

Thank you.

Steve Dietz
President and Artistic Director

Northern Give to the Max

For a $50 donation, receive a free ticket to David Byrne's "Playing" the Piano at Aria, in collaboration with First & First.

Give to the Max Day – Thursday

Just when you thought it was safe to watch TV and open your email now that the U.S. elections are over, many of us will recieve multiple pitches for donations to our favorite Minnesota non-profit for Give to the Max Day, Thursday, November 15.

Including from Northern

We have had an extraordinary year, and we are looking forward to another year of exciting projects. Over the next few days, I’d like to highlight Northern Light’s commitment to artists, audiences, ideas, and collaboration.

We are three years old and trying to do this with the least infrastructure possible, so that your support will go the furthest possible.

Support Northern this Thursday on Give to the Max Day.

ReGeneration – Exhibition Installation in Progress

ReGen install – end of week 1

World’s Fair 2.0

Creative City Challenge at the Minneapolis Convention Center

How would you remake your City?

Be a part of the revitalization of the beautiful convention center plaza as it is transformed into an activity center and gateway to Minneapolis. 

The Minneapolis Convention Center and the Mayor of Minneapolis are pleased to announce a new Creative City Challenge to create and install a temporary, interactive, site-specific, eco-focused “portal” to the City of Minneapolis on the Plaza of the Minneapolis Convention Center beginning summer 2013.  This challenge is intended to encourage exciting proposals and thoughtful discussion about how to make our downtown more vital, dynamic, livable, walkable and environmentally friendly.

The competition is open to Minnesota residents only, and it will be in two phases. In the first phase, the public will vote on all proposals, and the top 5 viable projects will each receive a stipend to produce a final proposal, which will be reviewed by a national jury of prominent architects and urbanists. The selected proposal will receive a $50,000 commission to produce a summer-long project on the Convention Center Plaza in 2013.

Initial responses are due by 4:30 pm CDT Monday, December 3, 2012. 

For further details online, click here. For a pdf of the full call click here. Email with questions.

ReGeneration to open at New York Hall of Science

Northern and New York Hall of Science Present ReGeneration

Ten artists present their interpretations of cultural sustainability

October 27, 2012 – January 13, 2013

 ReGeneration, a new exhibition exploring the relationship between sustainability and cultural vitality, opens October 27 at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI).

The exhibition includes interactive works by 10 artists that inspire visitors to think about the notion of cultural sustainability through collaborative engagement and futuristic visions built upon the history and traditions of New York’s diverse neighborhoods.

Despite the near ubiquity of the term “sustainability,” there remains significant ambiguity about everything from the actual meaning of the term to overarching solutions to the challenges we face as a community. Technology and behavioral changes including energy production, agriculture, recycling and pollution reduction are all on the table as we work to understand and address the challenge of sustainability.

ReGeneration is an exhibition about the future,” says NYSCI president and CEO, Margaret Honey. “We challenged the artists to take inspiration from science and imagine a future where we live sustainably, not just in the foods we eat or the materials we use,
but in our fundamental approach to how we view our communities and the interdependence between people and our environment.”

NYSCI produced ReGeneration in collaboration with Northern, a media-oriented art organization supporting artists who work innovatively in the public sphere to foster new relations between citizenry and the built environment. It is curated by Steve Dietz and Amanda Parkes.

“The artists in ReGeneration are change agents,” says Dietz, artistic director of Northern “The most lasting and sustainable way to change the environment is to change our habits and envision new and exciting possibilities. The artists of ReGeneration each have a unique, engaging and rigorous take on the intersection of art and science in relation to a sustainable, emergent future.”

“As an institution, NYSCI has long explored the intersections of science, art, technology and culture,” says Eric Siegel, NYSCI’s chief content officer, who leads the project team that produced the exhibition. “With ReGeneration, NYSCI explores and celebrates particular indicators and examples of cultural vitality. These engagements can ultimately be adapted to other environments, enabling a network of local practices that helps sustain a regional or larger cultural vitality.”


BIOMODD, biomodd [nyc4]

In biomodd [nyc4] a team of collaborators led by artist Angelo Vermeulen has created symbiotic relationships between plants and computers. Algae are used to cool computer processors so they can run faster, while the heat that is generated by the computer electronics is used to create ideal growing conditions for a plant-based ecosystem.

Futurefarmers, Ethnobotanical New York

As humans transition from a rural to urban existence, indigenous plant knowledge is being lost and western models of school-based education often do not include traditional skills. Through a mobile structure and workshops, Ethnobotanical New York collects, displays and facilitates the regeneration and production of new and traditional knowledge.

Shih Chieh Huang, 99plus

For 99plus, Huang created glowing, kinetic sculptures of flowers and insects made from materials bought at 99¢ stores in Queens. The items have been integrated with LEDs, computer fans, and microcontrollers to create sculptures that Huang invites visitors to imagine as real life forms “that are adapting to each other, finding ways to coexist, and working together to form a self-sufficient society.”

Marisa Jahn and Stephanie Rothenberg, World’s Fair 2.0

In World’s Fair 2.0, Rothenberg and Jahn collaborated with teenagers to re-envision the World’s Fair to celebrate people and community. NYSCI visitors will take a virtual augmented reality tour to see what the artists imagined.

Scott Kildall, 2049

Using garbage scavenged from a San Francisco landfill, for 2049 Kildall has built imaginary devices that might be needed by a visitor from a future with fewer people and resources. These include an infinite battery, a trans-dimensional mailbox, and an emotional distiller. Kildall will also construct a time capsule called “Imagine 2049” with letters from visitors to the exhibition and from schoolchildren. The time capsule will be buried at NYSCI on January 12.

Zach Lieberman, Face by Face

Lieberman’s Face by Face installation makes faces out of other people’s facial elements. It combines a photo booth, which records video of participants, and a live visualization, which uses custom software to visualize faces using the eyes, noses, mouths, eyebrows and other face parts of previous participants. It is designed to investigate the diverse textures, rhythms and styles of our faces and present an algorithmic, collective portrait of NYSCI visitors.

The Living and SOFTLab, Common Weathers

Design studios The Living and SOFTLab created the exhibition design, Common Weathers, for ReGeneration, which consists of an interactive “cloud” structure, which is suspended from the ceiling and is made from wood and mylar. Lighting elements are embedded within the cloud. The cloud envelops the nine art installations and glows in response to visitors’ text messages.

Carl Skelton, Tomorrow 2.0

To create Tomorrow 2.0, Brooklyn artist Skelton and Joe Frattoni worked with middle and high school students from the Louis Armstrong Middle School IS 227Q in Queens and the Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology in Manhattan. Tomorrow 2.0 uses Betaville, a collaborative and participatory virtual sketchpad and laboratory platform to focus on an imaginary future for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Nick Yulman, New York Immigration Song

New York Immigration Song is a digitally controlled, acoustic sound installation by artist Nick Yulman. It features mechanically actuated piano strings stretched from nodes across a wall-mounted map. Data about immigrant patterns to New York is translated into music, which is played by the piano strings. The resulting music represents the New York City’s changing population and the countries to which it is connected through its residents.

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga, A Geography of Being/Una Geografia de Ser

Brooklyn artist Zúñiga uses kinetic sculptures, a graphic zine, and a video game to explore the subject of undocumented immigrant populations in the United States. While visitors play the video game, the sculptures react to the game play and help the player. A graphic zine shows the challenges and options that are presented in the video game.

ReGeneration Website

For more information about ReGeneration visit