How to Build a Voice Box I: Dunce Caps into Megaphones

Join Futurefarmers on Saturday, August 7, for part of their residency “A People without a Voice Cannot Be Hear.”

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Small paper megaphones will be made by the general public. Posters will be printed with a template for the megaphone form and a space for people to write a statement they wish to shout or whisper.

Alongside the public making workshop, Futurefarmers + core group will be building a large, mobile multiple person megaphone.

And come to the 01SJ Biennial in September for more Futurefarmers’ Sunshine Still / Speak Hard.

Calling all builders, tinkerers, sound artists, collaboratives, inventors, electronic hackers, artists

Futurefarmers wants you!!

Deadline for Submissions: June 25th, 2010
When: Aug. 18, 2010 Noon – 5pm; Aug. 19, 2010 3 pm – 8pm
Where: Walker Art Center, Flatpak House
What: A two-day workshop with a core group of
art and design students building “Voice Boxes”.
Who: An amazing group of artists working with Futurefarmers on A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Within the context of the Walker’s summer program, Open Field, which encompasses issues around “the commons,” Futurefarmers will be programming several events around theme of “voice” as a commons. We are looking for Minneapolis-based artists/builders to lead this workshop. We are leaving “voice box” open to interpretation. The first day will be a more intensive building workshop with a core group of design students (max 15) and the second day will be open to the public. This is a free Thursday at the Walker, so there is heavy foot traffic with many kids and people who would love to build or contribute something, so preparing some simple aspect of participation for this day is key.

More information:;
Commission: $500

Please send

  • Name
  • Address
  • website
  • email
  • 250 word description of workshop
  • rough schedule of the two days: noon-5pm
  • link(s) to any previous work or 5 jpgs 72 dpi of related work


Call for volunteers

Wing Young Huie, University Avenue Project(ion) site

Wing Young Huie, University Avenue Project(ion) site. Courtesy the artist.

Get involved with The University Avenue Project

Photographs by Wing Young Huie are installed over 6 miles of University Avenue in Saint Paul for The University Avenue Project…an extraordinary public exhibition that is on display in storefronts and on building facades May 1 – October 31, 2010.

At the center of the exhibit is The University Avenue Project(ion) Site, located at 1433 University Avenue. On a nightly basis beginning at dusk, Wing’s photographs are projected on 40’foot screens, accompanied by a soundtrack from local musicians. The last Saturday of each month, we invite local talent to take the stage for The University Avenue Project Cabarets.

We are currently recruiting volunteers for the May 29th Cabaret and for the nightly show at The University Avenue Project(ion) Site

  • Volunteers must attend a 1.5 -hour training session on Thursday, May 27th from 5:00-6:30pm or Friday, May 28th from 2:00-3:30pm. Volunteer Training will be held at the Project(ion) Site, 1433 University Avenue.
  • Volunteers must be available to work on the Project(ion) Site during evening hours. For the month of June, standard volunteer shifts are 8:15pm-10:45pm nightly. At special events, such as the Cabarets, volunteer shift times change slightly.
  • Volunteers must be able to lift up to 20lbs to assist with site set-up.

May 29th Cabaret Volunteer Duties

There are two shift options for the Cabarets.

  • Shift 1: 6:00pm-8:30pm Volunteers will assist with site set-up, public information and outreach, and smooth running of the Cabaret line-up.
  • Shift 2: 8:15pm-10:45pm Volunteers will assist with smooth running of the headlining Cabaret act and stay through the completion of the Project(ion).

Project(ion) Site Volunteer Duties

Volunteers will assist Public Art Saint Paul’s University Avenue Project(ion) Site Managers in the smooth operation of the nightly show 8:15-10:45pm. Volunteers will work with the site manager to:

  • Set up and close down site each evening
  • Provide project information to the public
  • Ensure general safety of audience -Assist with traffic and crowd control

Time commitment:

  • 1.5 hours for training session on either May 27th or May 28th at The Project(ion) Site, 1433 University Avenue, Saint Paul.
  • 6+ Hours – Volunteers will be asked to complete at least two volunteer shifts. Public Art Saint Paul will work with you to coordinate a schedule.

To register for a volunteer training or for more information contact Ashley Hanson at Public Art Saint Paul 651.290.0921 or email

To sign up for Project(ion) site shifts throughout the month of May, please visit the Get Involved section of the project website

Art-a-Whirl this weekend, Art(ists) On the Verge, works-in-progress @ Art-a-Whirl

Art(ists) On the Verge will again be participating in the Art-a-Whirl Open Studio and Gallery Tour in the historic Thorp Building on Central Avenue, this Friday, May 14 – Sunday, May 16.


Arlene Birt, tectonic industries, Kyle Phillips, Janaki Ranpura, Tyler Stefanich

Arlene Birt Visualizing sustainability.An in-store grocery products tracking system
Kyle PhillipsEmpathetic Architecture. An interactive exploration of previous inhabitants in a space
Janaki RanpuraEgg Alley Cat bike race. Interactive costumes
Tyler Stefanich – Exploring strategies for interpretation of the digital cultural archive
tectonic industriesThe Oprah Winfrey Show. We watch so you don’t have to



Call for workshop leader for Futurefarmers project

Futurefarmers, call for workshop proposals.

Futurefarmers, call for workshop proposals. A two-day workshop with a core group of art and design students building “Voice Boxes”. The core group will be able to bring materials and supplies if you organize with them beforehand.

This project is part of A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, a month-long project by Futurefarmers co-commissioned and co-presented by Northern and the Walker Art Center for the Walker’s Open Field initiative this summer.

A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, co-presented by Northern and Walker Art Center, August 2010

Futurefarmers’ A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard is part of the Walker’s summer “Open Field” programming about the cultural commons.

Three Futurefarmers (Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, and Dan Allende, a new farmer who worked as an intern on the Reverse Ark project in Baltimore) came to Minneapolis to prep for their summer project A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, which is being co-curated and co-presented by Northern and the Walker Art Center. Northern Lights artistic director Steve Dietz sat down with Amy and Michael to discuss their upcoming project after three days of meetings with Walker staff, local artists, and potential community collaborators.

Steve Dietz – Amy and Michael, on your website (, you write “Futurefarmers is a group of practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us.” What do you mean by that?

Futurefarmers – (laugh) Futurefarmers was founded in 1995, and at first we had a design studio that we worked out of, but really our primary interest is in creating platforms for sociability. At some point, we stopped paying rent on the studio and began working on a project basis with a dynamic group of collaborators creating mostly temporary work particular to a specific site or situation. For example, A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, is our response to the Walker’s summer theme of the cultural commons. For the month of August, we, along with a core group of local collaborators will explore together the idea of voice through workshops, lectures, outings, film programs, and public events.

SD – Curiosity seems to be a primary motivation and exploration a key component of Futurefarmer’s “m o,” as with projects like Reverse Ark at the Baltimore Contemporary Art Museum or the Free Soil Bus Tour at the 01SJ Biennial in San Jose.

Futurefarmers, Free Soil Bus Tour 2, 01SJ Biennial, 2008

Futurefarmers, Free Soil Bus Tour 2, 01SJ Biennial, 2008

FF – Yes, we often start with a topic that we’re interested in such as sustainability or radical education, and our project methodology is to search out experts and people with hands on experience and to explore the topic from a range of perspectives over a period of time with a core group of collaborators. We don’t know precisely what the end will be when we begin, but we are makers, and it always involves making something along with studying film and literature and lots and lots of informal conversation.

SD – For Open Field at the Walker you are exploring the topic of voice. What prompted that?

FF – Our normal practice is not to respond to specific themes, but we’re interested in working in interesting situations and the opportunity to work with the Walker and Northern Lights in the context of the Open Field initiative was very exciting. We first thought about voice because we’d heard that singing reduces stress, which seemed like a good thing, even though neither of us has a music background nor can be described as a singer. In relation to the commons, however, if you think about singer-songwriters like Woody Guthrie or Chuck D of Public Enemy, there is an obvious connection, and we like working in new territory, so to speak. We then visited a local girls’ choir rehearsal on our first visit to the Twin Cities, and their common voice had an almost physical presence, which was very inspiring on many levels. We hope they can be involved in a kind of choral derive of the city during our residency. We’ll also explore other ideas about and uses of the voice from Inuit throat singing to auctioneers to a film about song metering prison labor to the printing press and megaphones as amplifiers of the people’s voice.

SD – “This field is your field.”

FF – Sort of. We’re very interested in the relation of the institution to the general public, and the open field next to the Walker is perfect as both a literal and metaphorical site for exchange. At one point we thought of creating a kind of Trojan Horse, which would cache people’s unheard ideas and voice them into sites of authority, whether the museum or city hall. In a sense, what is left of that initial idea is just the voice box. How can we construct multiple ways for people’s voices to be heard in a common space? Of course, we don’t know the answer at this point, but we’re interested in a story from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where he asks the question what would it be like if people could only speak through and with objects. On the first Saturday in September, we will invite people to bring a blanket and their objects to the Walker’s open field, and we’ll see what happens. Maybe there will be an auction, maybe there won’t, but we like the idea of the field being dotted with hundreds of blankets, each of which has a story to tell.

SD – How can people get involved in A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard?

Futurefarmers, workshops for A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, workshops for A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

FF – Lots of ways. We will be collaborating with a group of local artists on the project, and the FlatPak house in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be our headquarters. The public is welcome to stop by anytime. We will be programming workshops, lectures, film screenings, walks and other happenings throughout the month of August, particularly on Thursday evenings. Many of these events are open to the public. They are all listed at for more information.

SD – Thanks Amy and Michael. I can’t wait to hear – and see – your voices at work this summer.

Opening night, The University Avenue Project

Looking for aurora borealis.2

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

From:     Stephen Vitiello
Subject:     Re: financial update (so far)
Date:     October 14, 2009 11:18:29 AM CDT
To:     Steve Dietz
Cc:     Matt Flowers

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

no NL to be seen. We went to visit this guy Stu Ross last night. We paid him $40 each for an evening at his cabin. Not to sleep but to have a sort of speed-education in the Northern Lights, as well as a slide show and then access to his lakefront view to the sky. He does these “Aurora Tours” which have produced incredible photographs. The tourism brochures and websites make it seem like you just come here and the sky is filled with color but that’s not always true at all. He said on a great year, you may see lights 20 nights out of the month on the ‘peak’ months. This was predicted to be a big year and season for the lights but the predictions haven’t come true. He’s barely seen anything and nothing in the last week at all. It sounds like 2012 is supposed to be the high-point on the 12-year cycle. We took lots of pictures. There was too much interference from phone lines to do VLF recordings but there’s one spot I can return to today to do those. Stu said that there’s a chance of NL activity tonight but it may be too cloudy to see – prediction is for snow today, rain and snow tomorrow. If it looks good, he’ll call us and we’ll jump in the car. Otherwise, we may go close to his place without paying him and just get our last shots tonight. Matt stays for one extra night. I can certainly make something but it’s more of a “waiting for the lights” piece. Sadly, Fort McMurray is not a pretty town at all but if you go 30 minutes out on the lake, where Stu lives is at least more rural, charming and dark at night. best, Stephen

See Looking for aurora borealis.