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Archive for the ‘Era Morel, Director Emeritus, EMIT’ Category

Observation Tape Deck

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

 Based on her installation Status Update, Caly McMorrow’s Observation Tape Deck is a site-specific, interactive light and sound installation for the Foshay Tower’s observation deck that plays on the Foshay’s significance as a historic building and its former role as a radio transmitter. Participants are invited to use vintage broadcast microphones stationed at each corner to record their observations or memories inspired by this unique panoramic view of the Twin Cities. Speakers placed on all sides of the outdoor observation area play back the stored recordings in sync with vintage lightbulbs, creating an evolving collage of visitors’ experiences throughout the 12-hour installation.

Caly McMorrow

Caly is an installation artist, electronic musician, and sound designer. One of few women in the DIY-driven cultures of circuit bending, hardware hacking, and chiptunes, she blends a background in classical music, technical theater, and digital audio to create environments that incorporate sound, light, and interactivity.


Thursday, March 29th, 2012

PixelTron150 recalls the golden era of arcade culture, when crowds would gather around arcade cabinets and video game culture was exclusively outside the home. The PixelTron is a large screen made of 150 oversized pixel blocks, each lit by a color-changing LED. It hosts an original game developed for Northern Spark, and festival attendees are invited to step up and play. PixelTron150 was created by members of New York City’s DIY arcade collective Babycastles, an organization that curates arcades and runs educational workshops around New York, at the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of the Moving Image as well as smaller venues.

PixelTron150 is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is a Minnesota-born, Brooklyn-based game designer. He has a master’s degree in entertainment technology from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center and was a professional game designer for eight years, working on games such as Homefront, The Simpsons Game, and Dead Space. He is a member of the DIY arcade collective Babycastles, which curates and hosts a recurring lecture series and organizes game jams. He lives in Brooklyn.

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson is an architectural lighting designer based in New York. She discovered her love of lighting in Minneapolis theaters as a teenager and learned the tools to practice it with a degree in architectural engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her architectural lighting design ranges from bridges to universities to boutique hotels; her projects include the Christopher S. Bond Bridge in Kansas City; Keen Hotel in Palo Alto, California; and Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California. She designs at Illumination Arts and resides in Brooklyn.

Mom’s Cookies

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Mom’s Cookies is a series of short silent videos showing packaged convenience foods prepared from start to finish by a well-coiffed mother figure. The videos will be projected onto mill buildings near St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River.

These videos commemorate this area of the Mississippi River as the birthplace of modern packaged foods. Viewers will have the opportunity to watch the product of the waterfall’s power literally rise in the oven, with the waterfall itself as a backdrop.

St. Anthony Falls and its natural source of energy attracted settlers and industry in the nineteenth century, first as the site of sawmills and later flour mills. The Minneapolis flour mills (many of which later merged into General Mills) developed innovations in flour production, which led to Minnesota flour being the highest rated in the country for fineness and quality. In 1931 General Mills further revolutionized food production in the United States with its introduction of Bisquick, the nation’s first baking mix. With Bisquick, the age of packaged and boxed foods was born, completely changing how Americans, and many of the people throughout the world, eat. Mom’s Cookies reminds viewers of the history of the mills and their importance to contemporary food production and consumption.

Homemade baked goods have a powerful hold over the American psyche. Mythology about mothers and grandmothers baking magical frosted delights in the kitchen play into our ideas of what it means to be loved and cared for. Home-cooked meals represent our greatest desire for comfort and security. Mom’s Cookies asks the viewer to contemplate the technological advances that occurred at this site of natural wonder and power, as well as the depth of the social and economic changes they brought to our society.

Rosemary Williams

Rosemary Williams is a multimedia artist whose work spans video, audio, performance, and installation. She has been awarded the Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists and other grants, and she exhibits her work internationally, including recent shows in Berlin, London, and the Czech Republic. She is now making her first feature film.

THE Northern Spark

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Electricity, which powers almost all technology in the twenty-first century, first became a useful energy source around 1800 with the invention of the battery. Since then, wires, switches, light filaments, transformers, motors, and floods of inventions (diodes, vacuum tubes, speakers, microphones, telephones, radio, TV, transistors, thermostats, and in our contemporary era LEDs, LCDs, CCD sensors, PCs, motherboards, chips, Ipads, and Siri) chart a history of dazzling innovation and miniaturization. In the process, however, electricity as something elemental and wondrous has become invisible. Our project is to reassert electricity’s essential mystery and to exteriorize and celebrate its properties along with its function as sign and symbol.

We will construct THE Northern Spark, an iconic electrical spark generator installation near the St. Anthony Falls hydroelectric plant, the only waterfall-driven hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River. The installation will consist of a centralized rotating electrode arm from which electricity will jump across a spark gap to approximately one hundred terminals along a twelve-foot-diameter steel circle. Adjacent to the arcing power circle will be a video projection of closely related imagery, including the spark machine in operation, tonally reversed images of it, shadow images, close-ups, and other aspects.

David Goldes

David Goldes received an MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop at SUNY Buffalo; he also has a BA in chemistry and biology and an MA in molecular genetics from Harvard University. He has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. His work was featured in the exhibition Midnight Party at the Walker Art Center. Since 1986 he has been a member of the media arts faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Jonathan Bruce Williams

Jonathan Bruce Williams received his bachelor of fine arts degree in photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2008 and was awarded a 2009/2010 Minnesota State Arts Board Artists Initiative Grant and a 2010/2011 Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists.


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Public social space is all around us and permanently changing. iLounge/instant/interim/interactive provides a social stage to create a temporary community for a minute, an hour, or an evening. Operating as a social catalyst, it will be what the citizens of Minneapolis want it to be; the visitor to iLounge is an active part of its spatial production. The ambition of iLounge is to be an urban space that interacts with its inhabitants, adapting to the needs of the citizens but also stimulating them to look, listen, exchange, reflect, relax, and gain something lasting from the experience. iLounge is instant, interim, and interactive, and predominately refers to “I” am.

The design suggests a dynamic and adaptive carpet, a topography that embraces and stimulates exchange as well as interaction. The configuration is intended to alter the speed and the direction of its participants, influencing them to interact, slow down, look in various directions, and generate informal exchanges to promote different types of urban life. The architectural modules have a versatile surface that supports the human body in multiple ways: lounging, standing, resting, socializing, exchanging, playing, observing, and being observed. As an interactive piece, the modular nature of iLounge offers the option to change the topography of its surface, to aggregate and rearrange its layout.

This inhabitable social sculpture motivates the creation of a temporary community in flux. Live-feed video cameras create a media echo of the spatial production. The media footage feeds into an incorporated projection station that will project the image of the interim social space onto surrounding urban surfaces and firewalls. The visitors are not passive spectators but dynamic participants in the production of art. Real-time mapping of iPhone locations will be displayed in the media footage. iLounge is public furniture, but even more it is an interactive artifact of cultural production. QR codes spread throughout the city communicate the space far beyond its spatial dimensions, encouraging the creation of interim communities in material and digital space. Visitors are invited to reflect on the concept of social space in flux and might better understand the importance of social networks in our everyday culture.

iLounge is a co-commission of Northern Spark and ZERO1 to be presented at Northern Spark 2012 in Minneapolis, MN, and the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose, CA and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mona El Khafif

Mona El Khafif is associate professor of architecture and head of the URBANlab at California College of the Arts. She received a professional architecture degree in Germany and a doctorate in urban design in Austria. After practicing and teaching at the TU Vienna, she joined the URBANbuild program at Tulane University in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She coauthored URBANbuild: Local/Global and published Staged Urbanism: Urban Spaces for Art, Culture, and Consumption in the Age of Leisure Society. Her design research operates at multiple scales, examining interdisciplinary aspects of urban regeneration and the production of public spaces. At the ZERO1 Biennial in 2010, with a group of URBANlab students, she presented OPspace, an interactive installation designed to reactivate empty storefronts.×10-cities/

Marcella del Signore

Marcella Del Signore is assistant professor at Tulane School of Architecture. She holds a master’s degree in architecture from University La Sapienza in Rome and an MS in advanced architectural design from Columbia University. She is the principal of X-Topia, a practice networked in the United States and Europe that explores the intersections of design with digital processes, urban space, and art. Her research focuses on the understanding and development of public and urban space through performative actions, applied technology, responsive systems, and digital processes. She has practiced in Rome, Madrid, New Orleans, and New York. In 2010 she was awarded “Young Italian Talent” by the Italian government in the architecture and design category. 


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

April 28 through May 27

              opening reception: April 28, 7 – 11 pm

              closing reception: May 26,7 – 11 pm

Final dispersal: June 9, 9 pm – 12 midnight

FLO(we){u}R is a month-long performative installation that returns The Soap Factory to a site of industrial production. Artists Amber Ginsburg and Joe Madrigal will recreate a World War I–era target test dummy bomb factory, creating target test bombs from terra-cotta in the gallery space.

FLO(we){u}R highlights a little-known detail of American military history. Beginning in 1914, terra-cotta factories, which produced the decorative façades on buildings in downtowns across the United States, were commissioned to make ceramic test bombs for the Air Force. The ceramic bombs were then filled with baking flour and dropped from airplanes; the white marks made by broken shells allowed pilots to calibrate their targeting.

The Soap Factory’s gallery space will house a full-scale bomb manufacturing facility, and all aspects of production will be on display, from clay mixing through molding to drying. Over the course of the project, labor will accumulate in the form of dummy test bombs. Two variations of the terra-cotta dummy bomb will be produced based on original World War I blueprints. One model is fired for use as a seed shaker. The second model, un-fired, will be used for test launches and a one-time seed dispersal at the end of the exhibition. These seedings will leave new white blooming marks on the landscape. The Soap Factory’s location in Minneapolis’s historic milling district lends rich context to the humble materials filling each bomb.

During FLO(we){u}R, the audience will see production in process and will be able to interact with the dummy test bombs. Deviating from the military’s intentions toward accuracy and destruction, the interactive and performative elements will address dispersion and formation, using history and metaphor to insert a poetic undoing of the bombs’ military past. Gallery visitors are encouraged to fill bombs with a custom mix of flour and white blooming seed mixes. This mix will be scattered throughout Minneapolis by artist-led seed walks throughout the city’s park system or by bicycle seed rides.

The finale of FLO(we){u}R will take place during Northern Spark on June 9. With the factory cleared away from The Soap Factory, the remaining bombs will be racked, ready for anyone to take them away, replacing the military precision of aerial targeting with the random trajectories of strangers in the night.

It was the burden that made us great and the part that caused us to stumble again: (the greatest).

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

An attraction unlike any other*. The Greatest examines the idea of the spectacle before the spectacle and the strangely compelling social role
that anticipation plays in adding gas to the fire of wonder.

Discovery and wonder are at the root* of this work. Often an emphasis is placed on art as entertainment and vehicle for enlightenment (aesthetic, phenomenological, and in some cases through rampant didactics). The assumption is that the artist is the creative force responsible for shaping and delivering something with both meaningful form and content. This work invites the viewer to play the role of creator as they imagine forms and concoct meaning as they wade through a series of anticipation-building moments.

What is inside?
Will I be pleased?
Is this what I wanted?

It is a call to arms for the curious.

*Other themes are explored in this project such as exclusivity, exceptionalism and the cult of superlatives.
*Influences for the work range from carnival sideshows and state fairs to Vegas reviews and theme park theatrics to major concert events and popular museum exhibitions.


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.” —Rollo May

“Only in fetters is liberty. Without its banks, Can a river be?” —Louis Ginsberg

The intimate rules and rituals that guide our lives are nowhere else as visible, and nowhere more often practiced, as when we eat with other people. These rules are the banks through which the rivers of our identities flow. The group of people with whom we regularly share these rules, with whom we eat our meals, is called our commensal group, and it can be made up of our families and friends, our roommates and coworkers. Over the course of our lives, our commensal groups expand and contract, can remain constant or can change radically.

The rituals we practice with our commensal groups are the deep performances of our home cultures. When we eat together, our home cultures are in conversation with each other. We’re talking to each other about where we are coming from, and sharing intimacy.

At Northern Spark 2012, you are invited to dine at a table that straddles the Mississippi River, exaggerating the distance we must close when we try to understand our companions, and making visible the deep communication we perform through eating.

Our table symbolically unites two cities: Minneapolis and St Paul. Through a real-time video stream, we’ll connect festival-goers in Minneapolis to a group of neighbors gathered in a private home on the West Side of St Paul. Life-sized video projection and sound streaming between these two sites will create a half-real, half-virtual group of dining companions at one round table. By gathering around our “commensal portal,”  FEED/FEED invites participants to think about these questions: Who is your commensal group? How do you practice your home culture? Where are you from?

Forecast Public Art believes that public art brings people together by introducing art into everyday acts (walking through the neighborhood, riding the lightrail, resting on a bench). We’re bringing this project to Northern Spark in celebration of the new issue of Public Art Review, titled “Food for Thought” and covering recent developments at the intersections of public art and food. We invite you to take a seat at the table and think about the connections we make when we eat together, when we bring art into the public sphere, and when we collapse the physical and metaphysical distances across the table and reveal ourselves to ourselves.

FEED/FEED is made possible by the following artists, organizations and partners

Project design by Molly Balcom Raleigh
Produced by Forecast Public Art in celebration of the upcoming issue of Public Art Review 
Audio/Visual consulting and installation: Brady Clark
Table design and construction by Jonathan at Gomez Whitney
Chowgirls Killer Catering
NE Farmer’s Market


Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Pizza/Calliope—a pizza oven combined with a steam-powered musical organ or calliope, the thermal energy produced by the prior utilized to power the latter. The concept is explored by University of Minnesota students led by associate professor Tetsuya Yamada and assistant term professor Clive Murphy. Pizza/Calliope will feed visitors’ stomachs and ears throughout the night on the Weisman Art Museum Plaza.

Night Blooms

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

For 2012, we commissioned Wil Natzel to create an architectural-scale installation at the northeast end of Portland Avenue near the Stone Arch Bridge from the humblest of materials: cardboard. Using a specialized CNC cardboard knife, he will make eight blooms ranging in height from 15 to more than 20 feet, assembled into a cluster. Each bloom has a round ten-foot diameter top that forms a permeable enclosure—an environment that can be explored throughout the night.

Natzel is interested in the history of architectural ornamentation, as well as its expression today using contemporary tools in unexpected ways with unusual materials. He has produced and assembled large architectural constructions of cut cardboard (giant domes with squids) at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. Night Blooms is his first outdoor cardboard installation. This whimsical bouquet, reminiscent of sunflowers stretching toward the moonlight of nuit blanche, contrasts with the surrounding historic structures in the community. The ephemeral materials, like a memento mori, remind us of the passage of time and the resourcefulness necessary to survive and prosper.

Natzel comments on his work:

“With Night Blooms, I construct structures where pattern and decoration can thrive in architecture. I am creating a spatial graffiti as a purely decorative enhancement to the built environment.”

Wil Natzel

Wil Natzel lives and works in Owatonna, Minnesota. He graduated from the Cranbrook Academy of Art with a master’s degree in architecture after receiving an undergraduate degree in architecture from Iowa State University. Early in his career, he was an intern for Charlie Lazor, designing FlatPak bathrooms. Now his work circulates around the periphery of eclectic architecture, counteracting the banal.

In Habit: Living Patterns

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

“Ultimately we choose which habits to repeat. It is in this choice that we become and are always becoming, always crafting our social skin.”—Pramila Vasudevan

For the 2012 Northern Spark Festival, Aniccha Arts premieres a nine-hour overnight outdoor performance at the Central Avenue Bridge underpass. In Habit: Living Patterns explores the collectively learned habits and practices that emerge from the everyday, critiquing the acts of power that are reinforced by these patterns. This dance performance is composed of sixteen vignettes featuring performers who are dancing and interacting within an immersive electronic music and video environment in the landscape of patterns of movement in the audience.

The Aniccha Arts ensemble for In Habit: Living Patterns includes Pramila Vasudevan (artistic director, choreographer, and dance collaborator); Piotr Szyhalski (director); Jasmine Kar Tang (dramaturg and dance collaborator); Caleb Coppock (visual media designer); John Keston (musician); Benjamin Reed (installation designer); David Steinman (technology designer); Clare Brauch (costume designer); Cornelius Coons  (graphic designer); Sarah Hoover Beck-Esmay (dance collaborator); Dustin Maxwell (dance collaborator); and Chitra Vairavan (dance collaborator).

Pre-Festival Performances
Thursday, June 7th, 9 pm (60 minutes)
Friday, June 8th, 9 pm (60 minutes)

Northern Spark Festival Performance
Saturday, June 9th, 9 pm – 6 am (Join or leave anytime.)

Aniccha Arts

Aniccha Arts is a performing arts company that uses dance and electronic media to interrupt public space and invoke mass response. This sense of interruption, which involves an immersive atmosphere and interaction between audience and performers, is conveyed through kinetic presence, a mode of artistic intergration that simultaneously centers visual art, sound, and a movement aesthetic rooted in contemporary Indian dance and multiple dance forms. Trained in Indian dance and visual media, Pramila Vasudevan is the founder and artistic director of Aniccha Arts. The company’s repertoire includes Dousing the Mirage (2007), presented by Center for Independent Artists; an excerpt of The Wet Bug Hush (2008), featured in the Choreographers’ Evening at the Walker Art Center; The Weather Vein Project (2009), part of the Artists on the Verge fellowship at the Weisman Art Museum; and Words to Dead Lips (2010) of the Catalyst Series at Intermedia Arts.