Dialog in/of/on the tall grasses

Stephen Vitiello, Tall Grasses (location shot), 2010. Courtesy of the artist

I am thrilled to be in dialog with artist Stephen Vitiello about his exhibition Stephen Vitiello: Tall Grasses, along with Christopher Cox, exhibition curator and Executive Director of the Salina Art Center on Friday, October 29. I hope you can make it, if you are in the area.

“Composer, electronic musician, and sound artist Stephen Vitiello is well-known for his experimental approaches to the phenomenological aspects of sound. His field recordings of ubiquitous atmospheric noises are often mixed with electronics to create palpable soundscapes. The play list for Stephen Vitiello: Tall Grasses provides a layered perspective into Vitiello’s explorations of sound, including a room-size installation looping works from 2004 to 2010; a video collaboration with Brazilian filmmaker Eder Santos; and a new sound piece commissioned by the Salina Art Center expressly for this exhibition that echoes the natural life of Kansas’s remaining tallgrass prairies.”–Salina Art Center

Photo Stephen Vitiello

Stephen recently curated a series of midnight concerts at Trinity Cathedral in San Jose for the 01SJ Biennial, and Northern Lights.mn also commissioned him to do a project on the aurora borealis, although nothing sparked, so to speak, on that trip.

The previous day, Thursday, I will also be speaking with R. Luke DuBois about his exhibtion Hindsight Is Always 20/20 at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita.

Announcing Art(ists) On the Verge 2

Northern Lights announces a second round of Art(ists) on the Verge commissions (AOV2). AOV2 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. AOV2 is generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Application Online

Go to http://tylerstefanich.com/clients/northernlights/aov2/apply

Informational Meetings

An informational session (optional) will be held Friday, October 9 at 12:30 pm in the Influx room at the Regis Center, U of M, Monday, October 26 at 12:00 pm in the small auditorium at MCAD, and Tuesday, October 27 at 1:00 pm at Common Roots in the Common Room.  Additional dates and times for informational meetings will be announced soon. Sign up for the Northern Lights newsletter or subscribe to the Public Address blog to ensure you are notified.

Art(ists) on the Verge Background

In 2008-2009, the Jerome Foundation partnered with Northern Lights to commission six new works by Minnesota-based emerging artists. For more information about the first AOV program, see http://tylerstefanich.com/clients/northernlights/programs/aov1/ and related pages. The AOV2 program is based on the experience of and lessons learned from the first Art(ists) On the Verge program, and its core goal remains to support network-based, experimental art practice by Minnesota-based emerging artists with the following key elements: critical support and evaluation, monetary and technical resources, audience development through presentation and exhibition, and institutional recognition.

AOV2 Fellowship Program

A total of five $5,000 commissions will be awarded with some additional support for technical development and public presentation available.  Each commissioned artist or artist group will participate in an intensive 9-month fellowship program from January 2010 to September 2010, culminating in programming and exhibition opportunities at the Spark Festival in October 5-10, 2010. The fellowship program will consist of several elements:

  • At least monthly meetings with individually selected mentor/advisors
  • Every other month meetings of all fellows with guest speakers covering specific topics such from determining your technical specifications to marketing and promotion to installation planning, as well as topics to be determined by the group
  • Every other month meetings of all fellows with Northern Lights’ Artistic Director and guest critics to be determined.
  • At least two formal critique sessions with outside evaluators
  • Participation in at least one public prototyping opportunity
  • Co-organizing bi-monthly programs open to the public

Participation in the fellowship programming is not optional and can only be done in person.


The AOV2 Fellowship is not a research grant per se. It is expected that all AOV2 Fellows will publicly exhibit or otherwise present a final project as part of the Spark Festival October 5-10, 2010. Other options are acceptable upon consultation. Limited funding is available for public exhibition or presentation.

AOV2 Project Criteria

AOV2 is for 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.

  • Experimental. How does your proposed project fall outside – or straddle – traditional and discipline-based notions of art practice? Note. This is not a research grant and personal experimentation with a practice that is new to you does not in itself constitute experimental practice.
  • Intersection of art, technology and digital culture. This grant is not for software development per se, and your practice should incorporate technology in a meaningful way. It does not have to be “new” technology, but if your technology is the pencil, it should be an innovative use. “Art” is broadly defined in relation to digital culture. For example, video games or Twitter can be your art, and/or you can eschew the term art for a broader concept of cultural production.
  • Network-based practices. Primarily, this means the Internet and any related or dependent platform or protocol from Second Life to Facebook to FTP. Your project does not have to be network exclusive, however, and we encourage hybridity, particularly in relation to physical public space.
  • Interactive and/or participatory. Your project should have some significant, dynamic component to it, which is not fixed.

The goal of the AOV2 fellowships is not to be prescriptive but to support artists’ practice that often falls between the cracks of traditional programming opportunities. We’re convincible. However, AOV2 is not a program in which technology is used to expand upon, distribute or document work in other disciplines.


Applicants must be:

  • Minnesota residents at the time of application and during the fellowship program, January 2010 – September 2010.
  • Considered an emerging artist. An emerging artist shows significant potential, yet is under-recognized by peers, curators, producers, critics and administrators. Evidence of some professional achievement is expected, but not an extensive record of accomplishment. Full-time students are not eligible, with one exception. If an artist enrolls in an undergraduate or graduate degree program or takes classes while maintaining a current and active professional practice of creating and presenting work to the public, she/he is eligible. Artists may be supported as individuals or as equal collaborators.
  • Committed to participating fully and regularly in the fellowship program.

Selection Process

Artist proposals are sought through an open call.


A jury consisting of Darsie Alexander, Chief Curator, Walker Art Center, Steve Dietz, Artistic Director, Northern Lights, and Kathleen Forde, Curator for Time-Based Arts at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, NY, will make the final selection. Five projects will be selected by the jury.


Proposals will be evaluated primarily based on their excellence and applicability to the program (see “Project Criteria”). In addition, each proposal should demonstrate and will be evaluated on:

  • Quality of past work as demonstrated through work samples. Note, this does not mean that the artist is required to be expert in all the technology or fields required to successfully complete the project.
  • Ability to artistically accomplish in a timely manner an artwork for public presentation as demonstrated in prior work
  • Articulated interest in participating in a creative and critical process with peers and mentors. Note, it is acceptable but not required to have a mentor in mind you would like to work with. Mentors receive a small honorarium for their participation.


Selections will be announced by December 15, 2009.

Checklist for AOV2 Application

(Include all of the following. All files should be sent as .PDF files.)

  • Artist Statement
  • Proposal
  • Work samples descriptions and URLs
  • Bio + Résumé
  • Budget and Timeline
  • References (optional but recommended)

Artist Statement

Your Artist Statement (2 pages max) should articulate both your interest in participating in an intensive fellowship program and how your artistic goals match the program criteria.

Project Proposal

Your project proposal (2 pages max) should discuss your project’s core concept, your approach to realizing it, the kind of support you think you will need, and what the public outcome will be. The project proposal should be as specific as possible about goals and outcomes. It is less critical to know exactly how these will be accomplished. In any case, the project proposal is considered a starting point, and we recognize that it may change radically over the course of the Fellowship.

Work Samples List

Provide a list of your work samples with title, date, medium, link, and a brief description for each sample.

All work samples should be accessible via the web. They can take any form, as long as they are accessible via the web. You may include up to 8 minutes of work samples. Note: more is not necessarily better, and you should include only work samples relevant to your proposal. If one of your work samples is a website, include specific pages to view and how to navigate to them, if there is no direct URL.

Bio + Résumé

Include a short narrative bio, 150 words max, as well as a complete resume of exhibitions and related work. If you are applying as a collaborative, include résumés of all involved equal collaborators, noting the role of each person’s involvement in this work (no more than 2 pages per person.) You do not need to but may include the names of supporting collaborators, such as a programmer or performer, for example. Note: In the case of collaboratives, the artist honorarium will be split amongst the collaborators, and all equal collaborators need to participate in the Fellowship programming.

Budget and Timeline

Include your best estimate of a production timeline and project budget, which can include your own fee. The budget is not determinative, and both it and the timeline can and probably will change, but the scope should roughly match the resources and timeline of the Fellowship program.


References are optional. Include up to three letters of reference. The references are most useful in relation your ability to work in a collaborative environment and follow through on commitments. Your works samples will be your primary indicators of artistic excellence. Ask your references to write about their experience with your process and their estimation of your ability to benefit from the AOV2 program. Actual letters should be provided.


Email AOV[at]northern[dot]lights[dot]mn with any questions.


Jerome Fdn.

Looking for aurora borealis

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Northern Lights has commissioned renowned sound artist Stephen Vitiello to create a new multimedia work based on Very Low Frequency (VLF) recordings and filming of the aurora borealis. Last week, Stephen traveled with cinematographer Matt Flowers to Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Canada.

From: Stephen Vitiello
Subject:     report so far
Date:     October 12, 2009 12:33:32 PM CDT
To:     Steve Dietz

Stephen Vitiello. Photo: Matt Flowers

Stephen Vitiello. Photo: Matt Flowers

Hi Steve, just thought I’d give you a report. So far, so good. No Aurora but lights from rainbows, oil refineries and cars approaching on a quiet road at night. As we left Calgary, a wolf was running along the side of the runway, just before the plane took off. It’s cold – generally about 20-30 degrees F. Yesterday it snowed some. We feel like we’re just getting a feel of the place. Today is Thanksgiving here so it’s very quiet. Fort McMurray is a strange town. When I told the customs agent where I was going, he sort of laughed. Maybe it’s like telling someone you’re going on vacation to New Jersey. The sky is supposed to clear up by tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll see something great.

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Stephen Vitiello

Photo: Matt Flowers

Good work…”

“Anyway, I had my metaphorical books open until I moved over to the Artists on the Verge exhibition. It changed the channel in my head, and I felt like someone had nudged me gently awake. All of the artwork necessitated involvement of people in some way (way to go new wave of contemporary art! I like you more than the movements 5 years ago!) which got me thinking about how we, museum people, have sometimes layered the audience experience on top of the artwork. To help inspire or explain if it was more difficult to get at. Why this exhibition seemed so effortless in that respect, was because the viewer was primary to the artwork itself. Of course I felt like I had been woken up! The artwork wanted me to. It needed me to.”

via I am almost always on time

Northern Lights founder profiled

Northern Lights is in the U of M news recently with a profile of director Steve Dietz:

Dietz’s current project is called Northern Lights: a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented art agency. “There are some exceptional artists here,” he says, “and there are some strong programs at MCAD and the U; but there isn’t the strong environment of support that you get in San Francisco and New York.” This is one of the reasons that Northern Lights includes a program called Art(ists) on the Verge (AOV), a two-track fellowship and mentoring program for Minnesota-based, emerging artists working experimentally at the intersection of art and technology, with a focus on practices that are social, collaborative and/or participatory. AOV is a partnership project between Northern Lights and the Jerome Foundation. Northern Lights was also the initiator of the UnConvention, a coordinated effort of artists’ responses to the 2008 Republican National Convention.

via Betsy Mowry, TC Daily Planet