Giant Sing Along: Don’t stop believing

3 more days!

Prairie Fire Lady Choir at Giant Sing Along

Hold hands with a stranger

Amanda Lovelee’s Call and Answer Project was an epic success at Northern Spark.

Call and Answer at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Northern Spark, June 4, 2011. Photo courtesy the artist.

According to Amanda,

“We reached all our goals and went far beyond. In one evening we served over 400 pieces of pie in two hours, printed 2000 books, had close to 50 amazing volunteers who did everything from bake pie, photograph, cut pie, make coffee, run a letter press, greet people at the door, read their poetry,  play in the band, and call a square dance!  I think about 1,500 people came through the doors of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and at least 500 strangers held hands!!!!”

Amanda is going for it again.

The Call and Answer Project will be coordinating the largest square dance in the Twin Cities as part of the Walker Art Center’s Free First Saturday from 12-3pm on Saturday September 3rd. The day’s events will include a photo booth where if you pose for a photograph holding hands with a stranger you will receive one of the four books from the collector set of handmade letter pressed books that Lovelee designed about life lessons learned through square dancing. Each book was printed by volunteers as part of Northern Spark and folded by another volunteer. There will a space for both kids and anyone who wants to add a drawing to a very long and large accordion book of utopic objects. It will be the premier of Call and Answer, a short documentary about human connection and Minneapolis’s Monday Night Square Dance. The movie will be playing on a loop inside the Walker. Most importantly from 1pm-3pm there will be a live band playing and square dancing! Local caller Ann Carter will be teaching you everything you need to know.

Amanda Lovelee, Call and Answer Project, MCBA, Northern Spark, June 4, 2011

For more information please go to – or

Battle of Everyouth

Battle of Everyouth by Ali Momeni and Jenny Schmid with students from Washburn High School was presented at Northern Spark. It is a projection-based performance staged at multiple sites on and around the Minneapolis Institute of Arts , which is blend of live cinema, participatory theater and live performance. The Battle of Everyouth creates a context for exploration and conversation on the theme of global youth and violence.

A “mixing station” staged in front of the museum produces large-scale panoramic projections onto its facade using live video feeds from numerous dispersed performance contexts. The performance contexts that generate the raw materials of the projection are centered around a miniature urban set on display outside the museum. These performance contexts are run by students from Washburn High who act as the messengers as well as the listeners in this work. They use two types of devices in their interactive rapport with the public, which are both mobile and wireless. The first is an ornate hat, which is designed to capture up-close video footage of faces. The second is an augmented briefcase used to capture writing and drawing with markers. Video feeds from these interaction devices are projected onto architectural components in the miniature set, and simultaneously recorded and manipulated by Momeni and Schmid as they project at large scale onto the museum.

Supported by

MIA Inside/Out: Battle of Everyouth is made possible by a Joyce Award and a grant from the Friends of the Institute with additional support from Best Buy Children’s Foundation. Presentation of The Battle of Everyouth at Northern Spark is also made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Machine Project Summer Jubilee

LA-based Machine Project is coming to the Walker Open Field. You don’t need to choose between Tragedy on the Sea Nymph: An Operetta in Three Acts Starring an All-Dog Cast, Car Theft for Kids, the Apple II Beeptacular Spectacular or Mowing the Field – with bells on. It’s all happening during the Machine Project Summer Jubiliee July 19-29. Check out the line up and don’t miss at least 7 of the projects by this remarkable group during this limited engagement of limitless engagement.

Giant Sing Along – vote by July 1

Mouna Andraos + Melissa Mongiat, Giant Sing Along, Minnesota State Fair, 2011. Concept sketch courtesy the artists.

In order to have the best summer song list ever, we need your help! Submit tunes you love, can’t resist, need to share, or bring back memories. It could be a song that gives you that lovin’ feelin’, a dedication to a few of your favorite things, a traditional folk song, your choir’s best song, or something that makes you wanna rock and roll all night.

Vote now here by July 1.

Music Machine, Group Karaoke, DIY Choir, Electric Campfire

There is a new kind of “machine” coming to Machinery Hill at the Minnesota State Fair this August. It’s a “music machine,” and everyone is invited to take your vocal chords for a spin. With your friends. With your family. With your church choir. With total strangers. Step up to the field of microphones and belt out the words on the giant LED screen. Don’t worry, the 36 microphones are specially designed to “auto tune” voices – or add disguising reverb and other effects.

Giant Sing Along by Montreal-based artists Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat is a giant sing along that puts the “together” in The Great Minnesota Get Together. It’s a machine that combines disparate voices to make common song. It’s group singing around the electric LED campfire karaoke style. It’s a make-your-own-choir opportunity. And yes, it’s song at the end of a stick – a field of stick-microphones inviting you to participate. Or watch as long as you can till you can’t resist participating.

Whether at a stadium, around a campfire, on a dance floor, as part of a choir, or as a family holiday tradition, there is something powerful in the act of singing together – beyond beautiful voices, it’s about the collective shared experience. That collective shared experience is the heart and soul of both the Minnesota State Fair and Giant Sing Along.

Giant Sing Along will be located on Murphy Avenue, across from the Pet Center. It’s free and open to all guests each day of the 2011 Minnesota State Fair.

Giant Sing Along

Giant Sing Along field of microphones. Concept sketch courtesy the artists.

A field of 36 microphones offer an open invitation for anyone to reminisce both the historical and popular American music repertoire.

A giant screen features lyrics of recent, old and very old songs, from chorals, country music and any other musical background relevant to Minnesotans through a voting process. Songs that no one can resist.

Beyond the initial reference to karaoke, Giant Sing Along is actually a proper sing along since karaoke is really about one person performing in front of an audience. Here the goal is not to reproduce a song performance, but to live a communal experience. Jay Livingston, Montclair University, explains it well: “In a sing along, our goal, our motivation, is to do something together – in this case, sing the same song – and our pleasure comes from doing it together. Sing along is less about performance, more about group activity, and we wind up sounding like, well, us.”

The system will integrate different sound technologies to stimulate participation. A sound processing system will auto—tune the voices, lightly adjusting the pitch and reverb so that anyone, even the ones less familiar with singing, can sound good, and feel comfortable taking part.

Giant Sing Along will also increase the impact of each participant’s voice: The more people sing, the more voices will come out – 1 person sounding as if 2 people were singing, 2 persons as if they were 4, 3 as 6, up to 36 voice which in turn will sound like almost 100 people are singing together. And if more than one person sings in each microphone, the sing along will truly sound giant!

Andraos and Mongiat

Andraos and Mongiat come from the fields of interaction design and narrative environments, and research new ways to tell stories. Regarding the fair’s Giant Sing Along, Andros and Mongiat write, “Building on the contagious, positive energy of the fair, participants will connect with one another by sharing in a collective and moving musical experience. This uplifting activity is accessible to all and designed with the goal of inspiring guests to do something in unison.” The two design large-­scale projects that impact cities down to tiny ones that fit inside a pocket, bringing art to everyday life and inviting the public to become active contributors. More of their work can be found at

Presented by Bremer Bank

Presented by Bremer Bank, Giant Sing Along is a co-production of the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, and Northern

Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, Giant Sing Along

A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis this week

Blast Theory’s A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis April 15-19, 2011. Buy your tickets now. The experience begins at an appointed location at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. Allow 60–75 minutes. It’s worth it.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With

Blast Theory is a UK-based artist group (led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj) who use performance, gaming, and interactive media to create participatory experiences that explore the social and political aspects of technology. One of their better-known works is Ulrike and Eamon Compliant, which premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and invited participants to take on the persona of Ulrike Meinhof or Eamon Collins as they walked through the city directed by calls to their cell phone.

Blast Theory, Ulrike and Eamon Compliant.

While less political in its premise, A Machine to See With is similar in that it’s a cell phone led experience that takes place outside on city streets. I experienced the work when it premiered in San Jose, CA at the 01SJ Biennial last September and was able to observe and participate throughout the concept and testing phases of development. I hesitate to reveal too many specific details about the work because I want to avoid spoilers. This is an artwork that you must experience yourself.

As opposed to a site-specific work that is crafted for one particular geographic location, A Machine to See With (AMTSW) is better classified as a site dependent work. The premise of the work is the same from city to city, but the work isn’t explicitly about responding to a particular location—the narrative is a stencil overlaying a place and the artists are location scouts who scour an area to unearth the characteristics and spaces that support their narrative to the desired effect.

According to Nick Tandavanitj, the artists feel a sense of jeopardy each time they stage the piece because the work is so dependent on geographical details and physical properties of a place. When the artists arrived in San Jose (a city they had never visited—all scouting was done via Google Earth) they knew the narrative would center around a bank, but were still determining how the work would resolve. In Park City, Utah they had to scale the experience to a smaller city and make accommodations for the snow and harsh weather. In Minneapolis (which they did visit in advance), Blast Theory looked at three different locations to serve as the anchor point of the work, and admit that they could have rewritten AMTSW as a different experience at each of the three locations.

The work relies on maintaining an air of intrigue and anonymity to what is going on. Playing yourself, you are challenged to imagine the previously unimaginable and question what and who is behind every corner. Blast Theory clearly designs the work to allow spaces for people to craft their own experience. When I participated, it was left up to me to decide when and how to follow the instructions delivered to my own personal cell phone and at times the work reminded me of the “choose your own adventure” stories I used to love as a child.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With. Still from San Jose.

Blast Theory is highly adept at blurring genres and mediums. AMTSW connects to urban gaming in that it enables interaction, but the work does not have the structure or clearly outlined goals of a game. In the context of a film festival like Sundance, the work takes on a cinematic element where the city is cast as set and participants as live actors in a reality-based action thriller.

In the end, I left feeling like the work was about taking a risk—not knowing who is playing along, but following directions anyway. As impersonal as the mechanism of phone calls seems to be, AMTSW crafts a finishing point that becomes a starting point to a moment of real personal connection with someone.

A Machine To See With is a Locative Cinema Commission from ZER01 for the 01SJ Biennial, the New Frontier Initiative at Sundance, and the Banff New Media Institute. It is being presented in Minneapolis as part of the Walker Art Center‘s Expanding the Rules of Engagement with Artists and Audiences initiative.

Thousand Print Summer becomes the Big Print

“The Big Print” is comprised of art from 1180 kids and adults and an overall design inspired by historic Norwegian knitting patterns.

The Big Print is based on public art events around steamroller printing  during the 2008 “Thousand Print Summer,” including Northern Lights’ The UnConvention during the Republican National Convention. The resulting prints by 1180 kids and adults are now installed at St. Olaf in NorthField, MN. Congratulations ArtOrg! Join the celebrations at the Big Print Block Party 2 to 4 pm, Sunday, November 21, 2010, in Buntrock Commons, St. Olaf College.

Thousand Print Summer venues

ArtOrg started printing for kids and adults with steamrollers in the fall of 2006. The first small steamroller event for kids was at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that September, and that was followed by a large steamroller printing event in October for a Day of the Dead celebration in Northfield. Dave from ArtOrg then successfully applied for an artist grant from Forecast Public Art to build an ongoing public art event around steamroller printing which we call the “Thousand Print Summer”. The Big Print is comprised of 1180 works of art from the 2008 Thousand Print Summer. The art was created at during ten different events: Walker Art Center, Anderson Center in Red Wing (twice), Owatonna, Stillwater, St. Cloud, Rochester, Northfield Crazy Days, Northfield Just Food Co-op, and “The Unconvention” on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis”

Community photo night University Avenue Project

Wing Young Huie, The University Avenue Project, Project(ion) Site, 1433 University Ave.

The Community Photo Night

This Sunday, October 10, 6:30 pm
The University Avenue Project(ion) Site on 1433 University Avenue, across from Walmart
Come see photos and video taken by community members!

There’s still time to submit your photos-absolute deadline is this Sat, 6 pm! (See info below)

Submit photos

The University Avenue Project invites you to submit photos for our Project(ion) Site!

Have your photos of St. Paul’s University Avenue neighborhoods projected on our forty-foot screen on the evening of Sunday, September 19 for our “COMMUNITY PHOTO NIGHT.” This is open to all photographers, amateur of professional, University Avenue resident or not.

All types of photography will be considered, including photos of people, things, landscapes, conceptual, or family snapshots (but only your family snapshots if you live in a University Avenue neighborhood). The photos should be taken in the area north of I94, south of Pierce Butler, East of Emerald Street (two blocks west of Hwy 280) and west of 35E.

Send a maximum of 3 jpgs (around 1.2 mb) to:
Or drop off a CD (maximum of 3 jpgs) at the Project(ion) Site anytime during projection hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 8:30 – 10:30 pm, 1433 University Avenue (across the street from Walmart, next to the Town House Bar).

This is not a photography contest, rather a way of creating an epic family album from all points of view! Photos selected will be at the discretion of Wing Young Huie.

The University Avenue Project

The University Avenue Project, produced by Public Art Saint Paul, is an extraordinary, large-scale public installation of hundreds of photographs that reflect the incredible diversity of its neighborhoods–taken by Wing Young Huie–that are exhibited along six miles of University Avenue in Saint Paul in store windows and on sides of buildings.

Project(ion) Site

The centerpiece is the Project(ion) Site where a giant, outdoor slide show of Wing’s photographs are projected on a 40 foot screen, accompanied by a soundtrack from 40 local musicians. The last Saturday of each month, we invite local talent to take the stage for The University Avenue Project Cabarets.

Conceived by Steve Dietz of Northern and designed by Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, Ltd. (MS&R), the site is built from cargo containers.  2 large towers along the edge of University provide for projection of images that will be visible for a mile in each direction.  Entering the site, visitors can view the nightly show that will be projected on a 40 foot screen.

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.

And the winner is . . .

Every year the Museums and the Web conference awards “Best of the Web” in various categories. This year, in the Innovative or Experimental Site category, the winner was My Yard Our Message.

My Yard Our Message was part of Northern Lights’ UnConvention collaboration.

The jury said about the project:

  • Awesome … brilliant job
  • leveraging a local event with national implications
  • the quality of the final slogan boards were as good if not
  • better than a corporate ad agency
  • the content worked during election season but also stands up beautifully now, post-election, both in terms of interest and also as a historical snapshot of the thinking of the time

Yard signs are as ubiquitous and familiar to the American political landscape as baby-kissing and stump speeches, combining catchy images and pithy campaign slogans to increase visibility for vying candidates and their parties’ messages. In honor of this election season, My Yard Our Message turns this tradition of political ephemera on its ear with a unique national competition: we’re putting the message and the creative design for these political yard signs in the hands of artists and then—in true democratic fashion—you, the people, will vote among the entries to determine a selection of fifty winners, whose designs will be made available to order as full-sized political yard-signs after August 1.

More details about the project and the process of putting it together are here.

My Yard Our Message, a project conceived by Scott Sayre, is produced by the Walker Art Center and in collaboration with The UnConvention.

The UnConvention is a non-partisan collaboration of local and national cultural organizations and citizens, initiated by Northern Lights, exploring the creative intersection of participatory media and participatory democracy. It exists as a counterpoint to the highly scripted and predetermined nature of the contemporary presidential nomination process and conventions.

Strut and fret your hour upon the plinth

Antony Gormley on the Fourth Plinth from One & Other on Vimeo.

via Artsblog

I don’t entirely trust Anthony Gormley’s rhetoric, but I admire his handler’s scripting:

  • “It’s about the democratization of art.”
  • “In the end it doesn’t really matter who gets up on that thing.”
  • “I’ve got an idea. You can make it real.”

Is this the end of participation? As in the logical end. The end where “it doesn’t really matter who gets up on that thing?”

Ok, ok. I’d love to strut and fret my hour upon the stage of the 4th plinth.

Other projects I might have liked to have participated in:

  • Almost any Janet Cardiff project, but my first love was her Telephone Call at SFMOMA
  • Carsten Holler’s Revolving Hotel Room at the Guggenheim
  • rtMark’s hijacking of the Whitney Biennial was brilliant and formative
  • Paul Sermon’s telematic projects: remarkably embodied for such “primitive” technology
  • To have my picture snapped on Monica Studer & Christoph van den Berg’s Package Holiday

What about you?

LED fireworks

Charles Quick, Flash @ Hebburn

“Flash @ Hebburn by Charles Quick launched March 7, 2009. While the title is not the catchiest in the world, the image did catch my eye, and the backstory is interesting.

During the course of his research, Quick found out that during the heyday of the city of Hebburn, if you looked across the Tyne river, where the site is located, it would almost look like fireworks there was so much activity from arc welding at the shipyards to the Monkton Coke Works, which looked like it was on fire at night.

Quick’s final design evolved to consist of twelve 8.5 metre high columns arranged in a 3 x 4 grid with a distance of 8 metres between each column. Photovoltaic panels on the top power 1 meter high blue and white LED tubes mounted on the columns. The LEDs flash responsively to people waking by during the day and with a single 15-minute programmed sequence at night, which is evocative of Hebburn’s historical industries. 8 different flash sequences were designed with local Hebburn groups and are visible from across the river as far as Newcastle, Gateshead and Wallsend.

I haven’t been able to find any good video of the project, but there are photographs, background information, and an interview with the artist here.


Photo gallery including historic photos of Hebburn and interview with artist Charles Quick via
flickr photoset
Curly’s Corner Shop, the blog!