Mayor Rybak kicks off Northern Spark

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak kicked off Northern Spark with a rousing call to the night and the virtues of Minneapolis.

In Habit work-in-progress

A film about Rosemary Williams(s)

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for a film by Rosemary Williams about Rosemary Williams starring Rosemary Williams.

Rosemary Williams is also cooking up a storm with her Mom’s Cookies projection for Northern Spark.

The Kuramoto Model (1,000 Fireflies)

The Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies) by David Rueter is a “synch mob” on bikes for Northern Spark.

During Northern Spark, up to 1.000 bicyclists will use customized, interactive blinking LED devices outfitted with microcontrollers and radio units that allow them to mutually and observably synchronize with others, as do certain species of firefly.

Lights are available online via Kickstarter until March 31.

These devices, in isolation, look similar to conventional LED cycling safety lights, but in groups exhibit an immediately noticeable phenomenon. To maximize the visual impact for all festival attendees, organizers will encourage participating cyclists to gather together in a large group to tour the various festival sites, including a “blessing of the bikes” at the Basilica of Saint Mary and a procession down Hennepin start out the night.

This project owes much to the research of Yoshiki Kuramoto, who in 1975 first articulated a mathematical model that describes why, how and when large systems of similar oscillators (things that cycle automatically and repeatedly) can mutually synchronize, without any single coordinating force or leader. With Kuramoto’s legacy (as well as the earlier work of Norbert Wiener and Art Winfree) as a starting point, this project aims to activate and transform the social networks and urban dynamics associated with cycling, by fusing this existing system with one biased towards synchronization. Grafting this artificial system of synchronized blinking lights onto a real-world urban transportation system does two things: first, it calls attention to the individual act of cycling as a component of a larger dynamic system with its own unique patterns and qualities, and second, it momentarily transforms that system through a subtle but pointed intervention in urban social space.

The project will be documented and published on a project blog, and the software and hardware implementation details will be published under an open-source license, allowing others to reproduce the designs or use them as starting points for new projects. Through an open process and significant outreach, organizers receive input and participation from members of the Minneapolis/St. Paul cycling community.

Modified LED bike lights.

Get your Kuramoto Model bike light on Kickstarter today.

Northern Lights board contributes to Northern Spark

Here at Northern, we are fortunate to have a committed and active board, which can always be counted on for its invaluable insights based on years of collective experience to help build out a nimble, sustainable non-profit organization.

To help support our Northern Spark nuit blanche, Elizabeth Armstrong, Neal Cuthbert, Steve Dietz, Vince Leo, and Gary Smaby are each contributing their creative talents as a reward for our Kickstarter campaign.

Gary was quite the music photographer in his youth, and is offering a number of prints of rock stars of the 70s.

Neal’s iPad cover is a marvel of DIY engineering and design using recycled cardboard and bike tires.

Vince’s profound text poems garnered from his all thumbs texting were most recently seen at the Weisman Art Museum as part of Ordinarily Here.

Liz is offering a personal, behind-the-scenes tour of More Real: Art in the Age of Truthiness when it opens at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Steve is teaming up with Guggenheim award-winning artist Marina Zurkow to offer an evening of alien gustatory delights in a home cooked and homegrown version of Marina’s earlier “Not an Artichoke, Nor from Jerusalem” culinary performance at The Artist’s Institute in New York City.

Invasive Knotweed Soup

Star Struck on Kickstarter

As part of Northern Spark’s Kickstarter campaign, some remarkable photographs by Gary Smaby are available of many music stars of the 70s. Check out the video.

Including portraits of: Luther Allison, Allman Brothers, Maggie Bell, Sony Bono, David Brenner, David Bromberg, Johnny Cash, Cher, Rita Collidge, Ry Cooder, Alice Cooper, David Crosby, Rick Derringer, The Hollies, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Tom Johnston, B.B. King, Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Loggins, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Mary McCreary, Joni Mitchell, Shaun Phillips, Tiran Porter, Pure Prairie League, Bonnie Raitt, Todd Rundgren, Leon Russell, Carlos Santana, Ben Sidran, Carly Simon, Patrick Simmons, Steven Stills, James Taylor, Edgar Winter, Jesse Colin Young, Neil Young.

Ba-ba-bamp-ba-ba-ba-ba bamp-ba I wanna be sedated

This unique artwork by Andréa Stanislav, who created the memorable 2011 Nightmare for Northern, is now available as a Kickstarter reward for supporting new artists’ work for the 2012 Northern Spark nuit blanche Twin Cities.

Stanislav’s Text Works are recontextualitions of dystopic phrases and sayings from such references as: the Ramones, Sex Pistols, A Clock Work Orange, Nivana, William Burroughs, current catch phrases and video games.The text is embedded between layers of resin polymer, and appear to “float” above the glittering light activated glitter-film base.

Check out other artworks available for supporting Northern Spark by: Jim Campbell, Wing Young Huie, Vince Leo, Ali MomeniROLUMarina Zurkow and many others.

You can also support directly the Northern Spark projects of Wil Natzel, Night Blooms, and Pramila Vasudevan’s dance-performance collaboration In Habit with Piotr Szyhalski, Jon Keston and others.

In Habit on Kickstarter

Check out the new Kickstarter page for Aniccha Arts’ In Habit: Living Patterns a FREE performance by Aniccha Arts that will take place at the Central Avenue Bridge underpass in conjunction with Northern Spark on June 7th, 8th and 9th, 2012.

Former Art(ist) On the Verger, Pramila Vasudevan (artistic director of Aniccha Arts,choreographer and dancer) has put together a stellar crew to work on In Habit.

Piotr Szyhalski (director); Jasmine Kar Tang (dramaturg and dancer); Caleb Coppock (visualmedia designer); John Keston (musician); Benjamin Reed(installation designer); David Steinman (technology designer); Clare Brauch(costume designer); Cornelius Coons and Annie Wang (graphic designers);Sarah Hoover Beck-Esmay (dance collaborator); Dustin Maxwell (dance collaborator); and Chitra Vairavan (dance collaborator).

And the rewards, beyond supporting such an amazing cast, include a personal dance class, custom screensaver, limited edition poster and more.

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.

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

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, is accepting proposals for an all-night event in MCBA’s gallery and studio space as part of’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.

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.

Save the dates: July 9-10, 2012

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

“We Are Working All the Time!” Wants You

Dear Friends,

Hope this message finds you well.

If you have visited with the Empty Words (so that we can do our living) performance during the Northern Spark festival on June 4-5, chances are you have walked away with one of the “We Are Working All The Time!” posters. These posters were printed during the performance and distributed to the audience. I am writing to ask you a simple favor:

If you have that poster hanging somewhere, would you please take a quick photo of it in whatever environment it is, and send the image to me?

I started this simple site for this poster series, and my hope is to show the posters in various spaces, where people chose to hang them.

There are not too many images there yet, but with your help I am hoping to populate the site very soon!

Thank you for your help,

Piotr Szyhalski

If you know anyone else that has this poster, or if you saw one around, please forward this message to them!