Watch Art(ists) On the Verge @ the Spark Festival

Arlene Birt, Visualizing Grocery Footprints; Kyle Phillips, Indexical Architecture; Tyler Stefanich, Re-Presented Narratives; and tectonic industries, Perhaps this is the only way of knowing if anything was ever important to you.

Former AOV grantee and current Northern Spark producer, Andrea Steudel documented each of the Art(ists) On the Verge projects at the recent Spark Festival at the University of Minnesota’s Regis Art Center.

Ann Klefstad visited the installations and wrote an essay “The Inside and the Outside” about the projects. Some excerpts.

“The house of visual art’s only restrictiveness is its institutionality, and choice of media has little effect on this. The house of art is already more like a ruin: open to the sky, a site where almost anything did happen and can continue to happen. It is the site that defines what occurs on it.”

“Where Stefanich’s and Philips’ pieces are inward-turning, looking at the relations of human beings to each other, to memory, to the past, the works of Arlene Birt and tectonic industries (Lars Jerlach and Helen Stringfellow) turn outward, to the social and commercial spaces that constitute the public matrix in which we all swim.”

“Electronica and virtuality bring us, again, to the root questions of humanness: Can we create our selves? Can we create our own world? Are we at the mercy of our creations? Are they, rather, under our control? What do we want from what we make?”

Read on

N.B. AVO2 grantee Janaki Ranpura was participating in the Gwacheon Hanmadang Festival in South Korea during Spark. She will present Egg and Sperm Ride at Northern Spark in June, and she also presented it at the 01SJ Biennial in September.

Northern Spark

Northern Spark is a new MN Festival modeled on a nuit blanche or “white night” festival – a dusk to dawn participatory art event along the Mississippi and surrounding areas.

Save the date!

Northern received start up funding from the MN State Arts Board and Northern Spark will take place the evening of June 4 (sunset 8.55 pm) till the morning of June 5, 2011 (sunrise 5.28 am).

Our goal is make Northern Spark a world-class event that focuses on Minnesota-based artists, pushes the boundaries of contemporary art, transforms the urban environment into a city-wide art gallery, includes a diversity of participating organizations from partner non-profits to commercial sponsors to “mom and pop” businesses, involves a broad and diverse audience who are not regular attendees of traditional art venues, and showcases the natural and urban splendors of the Twin Cities.

In addition to a number of invited local, national, and international artist projects, there will be open, juried calls for at least 10 additional artists and 10 venues to each receive support for projects at Northern Spark.

Presented by

Northern Spark is directed and produced by Northern in collaboration with the Spark Festival and with the support of numerous participating organizations and institutions.


Northern is a roving, 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.

Spark Festival

Now in its eighth year, the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts gather creators and performers of new media arts from around the world to the Twin Cities to showcase their groundbreaking works of music, art, theater, and dance that feature use of new technologies.

Participating Artists

Participating artists to date include: Christopher Baker, Body Cartography, Jim Campbell, Barbara Clausen, Phil Hanson, Wing Young Huie, Minneapolis Art on Wheels, Ali Momeni, Janaki Ranpura, Jenny Schmid, Andrea Stanislav, Piotr Szyhalski, Diane Willow, Roman Verostko, Marcus Young, and others.

Participating Organizations

Participating organizations to date include: Forecast Public Art, Intermedia Arts, Kulture Klub, Le Meridien Chambers, Macalaster College, McNally Smith College of Music, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Museum of American Art,, Public Art Saint Paul, ro/lu, Soap Factory, SooVac, The W Foshay, Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum

Supported by

This activity is 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.

Join Us

AOV2 @Spark Festival

Spark Festival. Regis Art Center. tectonic industries, Perhaps this is the only way of knowing if anything was ever important to you.

For one week each year, the Spark Festival gathers creators and performers of new media arts from around the world to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, USA, to showcase their work to the public.

Art(ists) On the Verge is an intensive, mentor-based fellowship program for 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. This is the second round of Art(ists) On the Verge grants, which are generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Arlene Birt, Kyle Phillips, Tyler Stefanich , and tectonic industries are presenting their Northern supported projects for Art(ists) On the Verge at the 8th Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art, which opened Wednesday, September 29.

Arlene Birt, Visualizing Sustainability: Tracing Grocery Purchases

Visualizing Sustainability: Tracing Grocery Purchases is part of a larger project, TRACEPRODUCT.INFO , which, is a prototype for an in-store, retail-wide system for displaying information on grocery product backgrounds at point-of-sale. It aims to “visualize the narratives behind the seemingly ubiquitous everyday objects that we interact with as consumers; focusing on the ways in which these products connect us to the larger world. By bringing the attention of the shopper to the detailed and factual backgrounds of their everyday choices, TRACEPRODUCT.INFO seeks to inspire people to understand more about how their individual purchases impact global environment and society.”

The project was going to be displayed as a proof of concept at a local store but last minute technical difficulties at the partner store prevented this. In the Regis Center, blow ups of sample “receipts” are displayed along with their corresponding basket of groceries. Via a kiosk, viewers can enter product IDs and review a visualization of the “localness” of the products. To try this online, go to and enter any of these codes: 1a2b3c, 4d5e6f, 7g8h9i, 1x2y3z, or 4x5y6z.

Kyle Phillips, Indexical Architecture

Kyle’s original Art(ists) On the Verage proposa l for “Empathetic Architecture” stated “I would like to create an empathetic space, which explores the network and relationship between itself and the people that inhabit it.” In part, the past 9 months have been spent understanding just how difficult it is to create a successful and compelling responsive architecture. Kyle’s installation in the Regis Center has at least 3 components. A shotgun microphone in the gallery captures conversations and sound in a very localized part of installation. These sounds are played back after an offset by speakers at the entrance to the room as a kind of attract sequence. Once inside, the viewer inevitably moves toward a shrouded space with a projection surface, which alternates between a grid of faces previously inhabiting the space and a real-time overlay of one of those faces and yours, as you gaze at the projection. Finally, projected spots on the floor indicate the “weight” of where the most people have stood, and a faint glow follows you one the floor as you walk around. Each of these reactive elements of the installation remind you of all the others who have been through the installation, also trying to figure it out.

Tyler Stefanich, Re-presented Narratives



Tyler’s work is also about memory. When you walk into the room, there are four chairs, each facing a projection of a person, with a raw speaker hanging on its own speaker wires next to each chair. You sit and put the speaker to your ear. The person is describing an event. An event which happens to have been Tyler’s graduation show at MCAD, where he told stories in person about project home movies that were not his own. Each person it becomes apparent is describing what they remember of their encounter with this performance. Their memories are not always precise, and if you sit through a couple of iterations or as you move from chair to chair, you may notice that each telling becomes less clear. It is physically degraded like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. Eventually, by the end of the show, the stories may be little more than white noise, which may also be the end of our own “shows,” eventually…

tectonic industries, Perhaps this is the only way of knowing if anything was ever important to you.

tectonic industries (Lars Jerlach and Helen Stringfellow) are endurance artists–although that’s probably not how they would describe themselves. Or at least endurance is only part of their practice. For The One Year Project (2007) they cooked one meal a day in chronological order from the Rachael Ray cookery book, “365: No Repeats A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners.” For their AOV2 grant , they proposed “for the duration of 2010, tectonic industries will transcribe from spoken word to text, every new episode of the Oprah Winfrey show and publish the results online every weekday, with summaries posted to Facebook and Twitter.” For this Another One Year Project , tectonic industries creates three versions of each Oprah show. One is not a verbatim transcript, but it is an honest attempt to “report” the entirety of the program. The second version is a distillation into the top 5 lessons learned from the day’s episode. And finally, there is a 140 character Twitter feed of the episode, from which the title of this installation derives. While the project is not yet completed, tectonic industries is streaming across the facade of the Regis Center, the Tweets of the episodes viewed to date.