Discourse and Discord

Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street

Public Symposium

April 12–14
Co-Presented with and at the Walker Art Center

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?

That question was a starting point for this three-day symposium on agonism in the public sphere. A term unfamiliar to many, agonism describes an approach to politics that embraces difference and disagreement as an important part of democracy. As a series of talks, workshops, actions, and playful experiments, Discourse and Discord aims to explore the structures or “architectures”—whether it’s the built environment, online technologies, songs, or recipes—that can draw people together for genuine dialogue and debate. It also reinforces the notion that democracy thrives on and even requires an agonistic foundation: the friction of varied publics and participation by people of different minds, views, and beliefs.

Join with a range of other unlike-minded people to debate and discuss, disclose and expose—and find out what happens when you move beyond agreeing to disagree.

More information here.

Northern Spark open calls close Tuesday, Feb 7.

Two calls for Northern Spark close on Tuesday.

DataVisualization in collaboration with Eyeo

Inter/National call

Application form

Kickstart Northern Spark

Explore a constellation of urban arts and discover the city in a new light.

Help support Northern Spark’s Kickstarter campaign.

From $5 to $5,000 your support can help support the work of dozens of artists at Northern Spark.

Check out the rewards, from limited edition posters to autographed photographs to home-cooked meals and designer seating.

Any amount will help.

Northern Spark is a free, dusk to dawn, participatory arts festival that presents visual arts, performance, films, and interactive media indoors and outdoors in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. In 2011, during the course of one night, there were 50,000 visits to 100 projects by more than 200 artists at 34 venues in collaboration with 60 partner organizations and sponsors.

At its core, Northern Spark is about supporting artists to reinterpret the city through art and creative interventions.


Art(ists) On the Verge opens at The Soap Factory

Participating Artists: Drew Anderson, Michael Hoyt, Caly McMorrow, Anthony Tran, Aaron Westre

Northern Lights.mn presents the third edition of Art(ists) On the Verge (AOV3) at The Soap Factory. This exhibition features new work from five Minnesota-based artists. AOV3 is an intensive, year-long, mentor-based fellowship program for emerging artists working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on network-based practices that are interactive and/or participatory. Previous exhibitions of work by AOV fellows have been at the Weisman Art Museum (2009) and the Spark Festival at the University of Minnesota (2010).

Feel your heart race as you pull the trigger of Drew Anderson’s “shotgun projector” illuminating the point of view of an animatronic hunter in the north woods of Minnesota. Zero in on Mike Hoyt’s video paintings of the Powderhorn neighborhood and join the online civic dialog. Get on the horn and leave a status update for Caly McMorrow’s sound and light installation. See yourself and the world around you differently in Anthony Tran’s hertzian funhouse mirror. Make your mark on the environment with Aaron Westre’s urban planning video game.

A related symposium on creative solutions for public discourse, “Discourse and Dischord: Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street,” will be co-presented with and at the Walker Art Center, April 12-14.

Northern Lights.mn is a 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.

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

Art(ists) On the Verge – 4(!)

Northern Lights.mn announces a 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. AOV4 is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Full call here.

Calling all artists

Northern Spark 2012

We are happy to announce a number of calls for participation in the 2012 edition of Northern Spark, which will take place June 9-10, 2012. For some background on this year’s Northern Spark see here. The new website will launch later this week at northernspark.org.

Please note that the deadlines for submission are different for different calls.

1. Call for a project in any media/discipline – inter/national

We are looking a  project that is sited/performed in public space and engage a broad public audience in that space. Projects can be in any medium or discipline. This call is funded in part by the NEA is for artists living or working outside of Minnesota. Application deadline: February 7. The call is here.

2. Call for Data Visualization project

This is an open call in collaboration with The Eyeo Festival for a data visualization project. Application deadline: February 7, 2012. The call is here.

3. Call for “platform” project

This is an open call in collaboration with ZERO1 Biennial for a “platform” project. Application deadline: February 13, 2012. The call is here.

4. Call for project in any media/discipline

We are looking for up to 10 projects that are sited/performed in public space and engage a broad public audience in that space. Projects can be in any medium or discipline. Look at the project line up for Northern Spark in 2011 to see the wide range of works presented. Application deadline: February 27. The call is here.

4. Call for Minnesota Center for Books Arts project

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), in collaboration with Northern Lights.mn, is accepting proposals for an all-night event in MCBA’s gallery and studio space as part of NorthernLights.mn’s Northern Spark Festival (June 9-10, 2012). Application deadline: January 30. The call is here.

More Calls

More calls will be announced in the coming days. Subscribe to the Northern Lights mailing list (at the bottom of the page), Like us on Facebook, follow us @Northern_Spark or get the tumblr feed to stay informed.


Give to the Max Day

Northern Spark.  All people.  All arts.  All night.

American Censorship Day November 16

An organization like Northern Lights depends on a fair and open Internet, as do many of the artists we work with. Join us in protesting legislation that places, once again, commercial interests as a higher value than open culture.

Northern Lights shortlisted for 5×5 public art program in nation’s capital

5x55×5 is an exciting program to commission 5 curators to each curate 5 public art projects for presentation in Washington DC during the  National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial, spring 2012.

5×5, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’s new temporary public art project, will result in twenty-five groundbreaking temporary public art installations that will be installed concurrently throughout the District of Columbia. DCCAH is seeking five highly-experienced and innovative contemporary art curators to select and work with five artists each to develop and present exciting, temporary art works in public spaces throughout the District of Columbia. The resulting twenty-five projects will activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces and add an ephemeral layer of creativity and artistic expression to neighborhoods across the District.”

Northern Lights/Artistic Director Steve Dietz was selected as one of 10 semi-finalists for 5×5. We will be presenting a final proposal in early December. Other semi-finalists here.

Wearable Gardens

Andi Sutton contributed this report on Wearable Gardens.

Social Media

Mississippi River Bridge Plaza Design Competition

Join us for the Pecha Kucha for the Mississippi River Bridge Plaza Design Competition (Weisman Plaza)

Back in March, the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration at the Weisman Art Museum put out a call for a Mississippi River Bridge Plaza Design Competition. Northern Lights.mn teamed up with Short Elliott Hendrickson (Bob Kost, team leader, and Rachel Baudler), EE&K Architects (Peter Cavaluzzi), and artist Christopher Baker, and we were selected as one of four finalist teams.

The broad outlines of all four teams’ (4rm+ula), coen+partners, and VJAA + HouMinn) proposals are currently on view in the Target Studio at WAM. On Wednesday, October 26, we will present our final proposals to an expert jury in the afternoon and to the public at large at WAMChatter. Final selection of will be announced the following day.

Join us Wednesday, October 26 at 7 pm for 24 minutes of exciting pecha kucha by the 4 cross-disciplinary teams about the Mississippi River Bridge Plaza Design Competition at WAMChatter (preceding reception at 6 pm).

Check out the blog of our team’s “discussions.”

SEH/EE&K/Northern Lights.mn/Christopher Baker team members

Bob Kost (SEH), Peter Cavaluzzi (EE&K), Steve Dietz (Northern Lights.mn), Christopher Baker (SAIC), Rachel Baudler (SEH), Michael Imranyi (EE&K), Mister Blue (SEH), Yehui Xu (EE&K), Dongshin Lee (EE&K), Gaylen Perkuhn (EE&K), Amier Hossein (EE&K)

1st Prize: The possibility of a new world order

"This call for ideas is not about perpetuating protests; it is about empowering them."

Storefront for Art and Architecture is making a call for submissions for projects and strategies that offer a new, creative and productive way of spatial occupation for public demonstrations and actions in cities throughout the world. Gathering expertise from the various acts of civil occupation throughout the world during the last months, we ask architects, artists and citizens at large to offer their ideas for enabling acts of communication and action between the civil society and the structures of economic and political power.”

Northern Spark 2011

Check out Brennan Vance’s mini-documentary of the 2011 Northern Spark Festival.

Northern Spark #7 on METRO 100 list

Metro magazine's Top 100 list includes Northern Spark at #7

7. Northern Spark, June 4 to 5, 2011

“Modeled after nuit blanche events in Paris and St. Petersburg, the Twin Cities’ first-ever all-night art party spanned galleries and green space on both sides of the river (it even spilled into the mighty Miss via a variety show aboard an old paddleboat). The highlight? Artist Jim Campbell’sScattered Light” installation at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul: hundreds of glowing glass bulbs strung together to create Northern Spark’s unofficial nightlight. We’ve been catching lots of Z’s in preparation for next summer’s citywide sleepover, which promises to be bigger and better than the first. northernspark.org

Save the dates: July 9-10, 2012

Northern Spark is produced and presented by Northern Lights.mn with the participation of 60 organizational partners and sponsors.