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Archive for the ‘Participatory/Interactive’ Category

Shin’m Piñata

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

When you walk into the Great Room of W Minneapolis–The Foshay, you will see colorful candy drops forming the shape of your body in video projections, which then explode when you move close to the projection.

Shin’m Piñata is an interactive audiovisual system created for the Northern Spark 2012 festival by Eunsu Kang, Donald Craig and Diana Garcia-Snyder. It is based on the artists’ Shin’m 2.0 project and its interactive system developed in 2011 with the Kinect sensor. As an interactive installation, Shin’m Piñata welcomes you to play.

Throughout the night, Diana Garcia-Snyder will dance with her interactive “piñata.” The dance starts in the middle of the crowd outside the Great Room. The dancer moves only when members of the audience touch her; otherwise she remains still. Through interactive participation, the dancer and the crowd move into the Great Room together. She jumps in and dances with her piñata and also with the audience. Participants are invited to join in the dance as well as interact with their own piñatas.

Dancing in the Dark

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

An evening stroll is illuminated by the glow of a streetlamp and the sparkle of the stars. A casual walk down an alley quickly transforms into a lively and spontaneous burst of movement. Similar scenes appear in films: characters traverse cobblestone streets and begin to change the night with dance. 

Nestled in the Loring Park neighborhood, Four Seasons Dance Studio is a warm and inviting space that encourages social partner dance in a relaxed atmosphere. Styles range from tango and salsa to the waltz, foxtrot, and swing. The studio hosts dancing events for the community, including swing parties and tango milongas. 
Join dancers from Four Seasons Dance Studio at Northern Spark to watch, wonder, and engage in an evening of dance!

Dancing in the Dark will take place in front of the studio in Loring Alley. Starting at 9 pm, swing dancers will perform dance demos. At 9:30 pm, visitors are invited to join in a mix of Latin, swing, and ballroom dances. Teachers will be on hand to provide direction. Join in the fun!

Northern Spark @ MIA

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Generous support for Northern Spark @ MIA is provided by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Journey to the Surface of Mars

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Join artist Margaret Pezalla-Granlund for a visual journey to the surface of Mars, guided by the photographs, drawings, and writings of Earl C. Slipher, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, who made hundreds of thousands of images of Mars. Over decades of observation, Slipher observed a mysterious system of canals on the surface of the Red Planet. The waterways criss-cross the planetary deserts, channeling melting ice from the Martian poles through the parched planet. What are these mysterious canals? Why do they appear? Join us for tea, cookies, and imaginative speculation.

This salon will complement the exhibition, ExtraMundane, on view in the Burnet Gallery.


Hedge Magic, with projects by Jess Hirsch and David Hamlow

Friday, April 6th, 2012

June 2 – August 5, 2012

Participating artists: Chris Lawrence, David Hamlow, Jess Hirsch, Amy Reckley, Meredith Foster, Peter Goche, and Keith Lemley

The Soap Factory has always been a nexus of transformation between the various states of matter; artists take this alchemical process further into a transformation of states of being. Filling the Soap Factory’s Victorian warehouse space with site-specific installations, the artists in Hedge Magic look at the processes of transformation and culture through the super-natural lens of art, with the artist as the interrogator of the secret process of nature.

Peter Goche takes the natural forms of the Mississippi ox-bow, forms made over millennia, and transforms them into sinuous sculptures of crafted wood. Meredith Foster also looks to the ageless river for her inspiration, drawing out the river and its landscape through water and ash. Keith Lemley works with wood and neon, creating an illuminated arbor of wonder with the ancient timber of The Soap Factory, while Amy Reckley gathers material from the building and its environs for an explosion of sculptural gesture. Chris Lawrence arranges objects into patterns that evoke the hidden occult geometries of the gallery space. Jess Hirsch takes abandoned and forgotten furniture and transforms it into sculpture, changing the pieces beyond recognition and then re-presenting them to the original owners. David Hamlow takes the refuse and detritus of our commercial life and fashions this material as building blocks for his own interpretive structures.

Join the Soap Factory on the night of June 9 for Northern Spark.

David Hamlow will be making bricks of recycled cardboard and plastic packaging. Bring cardboard to contribute, or use David’s stockpile to help create bricks and add to an ever-expanding room-sized structure. Jess Hirsch will host an old-fashioned tent revival in front of The Soap Factory, exorcising the demons out of abandoned furniture. Her white tent will be full of sage, smoke, eerie music, and candlelight while hosting tarot card readings by Stefanie Motta and vocal loops by Tabitha Sheets.

Captured Dreams

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Paper Darts and the Loft invite you to forget for one playful night what makes dreams unreal. Ignore your friends who complain when you talk about your dreams, and instead revel in the notion that the world at large wants to read about the fantastic things deep inside that mysterious head of yours.

Voice of the Dream

Time: 9 pm – 1 am
Location: Open Book

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
―T. S. Eliot, “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Over the course of the night, a selected group of poets, storytellers, and performers will recite works from the field of dreams―both private and practical, both their own and the creations of others―to help participants prep their minds for a trip to the astral plane. Readers will follow some of the common thematic threads that weave together our universal dreamscape: recurring, fantasy, nightmares, and the surreal.

Scribe of the Dream

Time: 9 pm – 5:30 am
Location: Target Performance

 . . . this world gives no room 

to be what we dreamt of being.
―Adrienne Rich, “Pieces”

The reading and dreaming space of the Loft at Open Book’s transformed Target Performance Hall will be stocked with blank tablets ready to be filled with your Kafkaesque experiences and anecdotal advice for navigating the nonphysical realms visited during sleep. Loft staff will offer writing prompts, ideas, and dream interpretation stations to help decode your subconscious. Take a micronap and use the dream interpretation stations to help divine where your dreams will take you. Write it down as a poem, story, lyrics, or essay and submit it to Paper Darts before you leave.

Story of the Dream

Time: 9 pm – 5:30 am
Location: Loft classroom

. . . no one wants to hear what you dreamt about
unless you dreamt about them
don’t let that stop you
tell them anyway
and you can make it up as you go.
―Built to Spill, “Made Up Dreams”

One of the Loft’s classrooms will be converted into a darkened viewing room, where a film comprised of recorded dream stories (submitted by participants before the event) will be combined into one joyous, fearful, and exquisite loop of odd storytelling. This film will play throughout the entire night. Make of its stories what you wish: clues to the collective unconscious? prophetic revelations? souls’ portals into another realm?

Record of the Dream

Time: 9 pm – 5:30 am
Location: Open Book Commons

Dreams are featherweights,
And memory can shake them off with ease.

―Wislawa Szymborska, “The Real World”

Paper Darts will set up a workstation in the commons at the Loft. This area will be committed to translating your dream writing into one cohesive magazine that captures the events of the evening in its pages. Once your dream-themed compositions are complete and you are ready to return to the mundane physical world, your stories, poems, essays, and tidbits may be submitted for copyediting and inclusion in this one-of-a-kind publication, which will be available for purchase via print on demand at the conclusion of Northern Spark.

Bat Detection

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Chances are that not only insects will visit our gleaming fabric but so will bats. These furry fliers will be on a hungry search for food. We will have a bat detector, which will let you hear the ultrasonic sounds bats make converted into a symphony of clicks and whirrs audible to human ears.

Located at the Weisman Art Museum on the East River Road Lawn

Presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History with support from Gary Smaby. The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Swing Hall, Swing All

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The solitary sensation of swinging takes on a new dimension in Keetra Dean Dixon’s collective, high in the sky, swing installation in the skywalk on the MCAD campus. For a full, even swing, all swingers must be in sync. Out of pace swinging results in playful collision.

 Keetra Dean Dixon

Keetra Dean Dixon, an MCAD alumna with a BFA in design, teaches full time at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, Maryland. Her 2D, 3D, and experimental projects have gained notoriety for their friendly, sincere absurdism. Her objects and installations aim to involve the viewer as an active participant. The pieces create or exemplify heightened emotional moments and often rely on context or unique interactions to complete the work’s narrative.

Midnight Mario

Friday, March 30th, 2012

“A single coin may have the power to change your destiny . . . ”

Pianta, Super Mario Sunshine

A traditional child’s game of jump rope meets the high tech world of Xbox Kinect in this interactive installation. A robotic arm turns the rope as the participant jumps into a projected Super Mario Bros. backdrop where the only objective is to hit the brick and make the gold coins rain down. Based on the super spare Super Mario Bros. arcade game (1983 version) but no longer a narrative of combating monsters and saving distressed damsels, this game arouses nostalgia but compels the heroic jumpers to keep on jumping. Alas, one never knows when enough gold coins are enough—but make a mistake and your turn is over.

Presented by Gallery 148 (a student-curated exhibition program) at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Peng Wu

Peng Wu is an MFA student at MCAD.

Spark in the Park

Friday, March 30th, 2012

In keeping with Northern Spark’s theme of “think and wonder,”Spark in the Park is a mix of mental and physical activities spread across two grassy spaces. To the left will be “think,” a simple zine workshop. The zines will be created with a simple template and mark-making tools; prompts will encourage participants to think as they create. To the right will be “wonder,” which features glow in the dark frisbees and badminton with LED-lit birdies.

On the hour, a dance party will bring the two sides, like two halves of the brain, together. These parties will last the duration of one song and will include flashlights, confetti, and glowsticks. At the end of the song, refreshed participants may return to their previous activity, switch sides, or move on throughout Northern Spark.

Presented by Gallery 148 (a student-curated exhibition program) at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Christopher Alday

Christopher Alday is a junior at MCAD with a concentration in print, paper, and book arts.

Kate Thomas

Kate Thomashas a BFA in design from CalArts and is pursuing an MFA in visual studies at MCAD.

Sit and Spin Shanty

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Our purpose is to engage onlookers in the most universal form of interpersonal interaction (play) through the construction of a giant sit-and-spin shanty reminiscent of the ever popular kids’ toy. Teams of up to eight, both known and unknown to each other, enter the shanty and collectively spin themselves and the entire shanty around a central table. Users communicate and physically work together to get the shanty spinning. This “art ride” will produce laughter, an increased awareness of oneself in rotational space, instant camaraderie with strangers, and in some cases of excess spinning, light nausea. Movement and light will create the principal aesthetic both inside and out. From the inside, participants will experience daylight streaming in along moving arcs of projecting geometry through the slatted walls onto the opposite interior wall. From the outside, onlookers can observe a spiral screwing in or out of the surface below, depending on the direction of rotation. Constructed from various types of plywood, five thousand staples, and three gallons of glue, all situated atop a fabricated central steel spinning shaft, the Sit ’n’ Spin Shanty has been said to resemble a rubber-band ball, an egg, and a space ship. Our real intention is to create something truly unexpected, especially as this giant pod seems to begin to spin by itself.

The Shiny Shadow Show Shanty

Friday, March 30th, 2012

This project is primarily performance and lighting. A moveable Gypsy Vardoo serves as the large enclosure that holds our playfulness inside. The Vardoo has several windows and peek holes, which will be screens for shadow performances. A variety of lights and
materials contribute to adorable and lovely playful shows for the city to enjoy all night long. Many vignettes will feature music boxes and gypsy-themed music, and many of the stories told would be shared at gypsy camps around the world. We are brewing other exciting ideas about how to use shiny surfaces and bouncing lights to promote the physical beauty of the night and the shanty, and we look forward to sharing our lavish visions with you.

The Letterpress Shanty

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Letterpress Shanty is home to Northern Spark’s communally authored letterpress broadside, The Shantyquarian. Combining social networking with old-fashioned hand-printing from moveable type, The Shantyquarian turns socially generated text (sourced
from social networking platforms and on-site visitors) into a hand-typeset document laid out and printed on a letterpress and distributed to visitors throughout the night. During the weeks before Northern Spark, the Letterpress Shanty will generate online prompts through Twitter, Facebook, and Blogspot to solicit short texts from contributors around the world. These texts will be assembled and set in type on location at Northern Spark. Participants can submit to The Shantyquarian by tagging tweets with #shantyQ, responding to prompts on Facebook, or filling out an online questionnaire, available on The Shantyquarian blog.

Throughout the night, artists will solicit visitors with questionnaires and engage them in writing games to gather more material to be assembled with the online submissions. The document created will capture the immediacy and diffusion of online social networking, anchoring it in place and time to the intimacy and concreteness of the experiences of festival participants. When the Letterpress Shanty has finished assembling the texts, artists will begin hand-printing broadsides and distributing them to
the public for the duration of the evening. To complete the circle, a downloadable PDF of the broadside will be posted online.

The goal of the Letterpress Shanty is to draw together technologies across time and participants across space to create a collaboratively authored artifact of the event. Visitors are invited to pull a print on one of our antique letterpresses, engage with the typesetting process, and participate in collaborative writing games.

Shanty of Wonder

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Celebrating what makes ice fishing a wonderful Minnesota pastime, the Shanty of Wonder was created to inspire a sense of mystery and whimsy on top of the harsh environment of a frozen lake. Stop in and feel free to experiment with the mechanisms that cover our walls. Try to break the code on our bank vault door, or simply leave a message in a bottle to your future self (or the fish—most people leave messages for the fish). Remember to mind your fingers, always take a step back when unleashing the energy in unknown machines, and please bring cocoa.

(The fish are happy that we are reaching out to them and enjoy the opportunity to learn about the crazy things happening above water. Just please do not ask if you can eat them: they do not care for that. They understand that they will be eaten sooner or later, if not by something above the water then definitely by a larger fish. They prefer to live in the moment, the blissful yet ignorant moment.)

The Dance Shanty

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Temple of Doom, Buckingham Palace, Universal Studios, Chimney Rock, the Dance Shanty. A single unit pushing through this atmosphere with great weight. Here, without inhibition or regret, on this earth for a mere fraction of time. A force much larger
than we ourselves will know.  Here, the pursuit of positive personal and communal transformation. Here, 2012.

Capitol HILL Shanty

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Capitol HILL is erected as a monument to the absurdities of government. Visitors can stand on the Soap Box, disrupting the pat language of political speeches with their own mad-libbed insertions. From that platform, folks can harangue the masses with their
own message, or liberate one of our provided pieces as part of Operation Mad-Libs Freedom. At the Department of Mustachery, they can adopt suitably stuffy facial hair to pay tribute to Gilded Age bosses. Stencils of our famous facial hair forefathers give them templates to bring a new presence to their mug or amend an existing mustache. Citizens may also go freestyle, as our inspirational gallery of birds, bananas, beavers, and other beardly incarnations demonstrates.

This farce also allows opportunities for participatory, if fanciful, outlets for governance. Visitors move through the vestibule lined with dreams submitted to the Department of Dream Intake and Processing, encountering their first chance to take a direct role in what happens in the shanty. At the Department of Departmenthood and Departmentality, you can submit an application to create your own department. Departments may be fancy, shiny, overbudget, ghostly, and godly—with staff positions ready to be filled! If the 24-hour spin cycle gets overwhelming, escape to a hideaway in one of the twin domes of the completely transparent Capitol HILL. As night gives way to dawn, replicating and ridiculing the bureaucratic formalities of government, citizens will be encouraged to reimagine and reanimate networks of autonomy and interdependence.

Thee Sashay Shantay

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The top floor of a derelict Victorian house holds a treasure-hunting fashion journey. The roof of the house meets the pavement, suggesting that the other stories were overtaken by an apocalyptic urban improvement rezoning project or some other natural disaster: the attic peacefully crests the surface of the pavement and remains phenomenally intact. Light wafts through its ancient ceiling boards; pigeons and spiders roost in the rafters. The interior of the attic is outfitted with homespun eccentricities of a rugged,
survivalist grandma’s house—a real wildebeest hide hangs in a corner and steamer chests are stacked around the room to create secret nooks and crannies of wonder. We invite the public into a surreal yet intimate space where people can discover its whimsical and innovative design.

The Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies)

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies) will distribute 1000 interactive blinking LED devices to bicyclists who attend Northern Spark 2012. The devices are outfitted with microcontrollers and radio units that allow them to mutually and observably synchronize with others, as do certain species of firefly. In isolation these devices look similar to conventional LED cycling safety lights, but in groups they 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 various festival sites.

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, 1000 Fireflies aims to activate and transform the social networks and urban dynamics associated with cycling by fusing this existing system with one biased toward 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 Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies) is documented and published on a project blog. The software and hardware implementation details are published under an open-source license, allowing others to reproduce the designs or use them for new projects. Through an open process and significant outreach, organizers receive input and participation from members of the Minneapolis/St. Paul cycling community.

How can I get one?

A limited supply of Kuramoto lights will be available free of charge at the beginning of the festival at the two Info Tents near the Stone Arch Bridge and the Info Tables at these partner sites: American Swedish Institute, Midtown Greenway Coalition, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the Weisman Art Museum.

Avoid waiting in line and guarantee yourself a light by making a pledge of $10 to the project’s Kickstarter campaign by June 1. Kickstarter supporters are invited to pick up their “fireflies” prior to the festival at this event:

Saturday, June 2
Pre-Spark Bridge Lighting
7-10 pm
Mill Ruins Park, 103 Portland Ave, Minneapolis
Pick up your reserved light and watch us “flip the switch” at dusk on this year’s signature artwork, THINK AND WONDER, WONDER AND THINK on the Stone Arch Bridge.

Kickstarter supporters who don’t pick up their lights prior to June 9 must retrieve them at the Information Tent at Fifth Avenue SE on the night of the festival.

Ride with all of the Kuramoto Lights

On June 9 meet in Father Hennepin Park at 11:45 pm for an midnight ride across the Stone Arch Bridge with all the Kuramoto lights.

The Ride Before the Ride

Want to join the blinking mass in a ride leading up to the Stone Arch ride? Nice Ride staff will be leading a group ride departing from The Walker at 10:30 pm. The group will then progress to Loring Park, stop at Hennepin and 4th Street, and then continue on to Father Hennepin Park to arrive at the Stone Arch Bridge by 11:30. If you can’t make it to the 10:30 departure, feel free to meet the group at any of the stops along the way! They will be stationed at Loring Park until 10:45, and Hennepin and 4th until 11:15.

Don’t have a Kuramoto light yet? Have no fear! The Nice Ride ride leader will have about 25 lights to give out along the way. Join in early if you want to grab one!

David Rueter

A former software engineer, David Rueter holds a BA in politics from Oberlin College and is an MFA candidate in art and technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sketching the Night

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Help us catalog this amazing diversity of flying, crawling, and jumping life of the night through the art of sketching. “Capture” your very own insect model and create a miniature portrait using a variety of art materials. Take your portrait with you, or add it to the communal diversity of life gallery, a hanging art record of the incredible creatures that we see during the night. Who knows—your artwork might become a draw for other insect visitors!

Located at the Weisman Art Museum on the East River Road Lawn

Presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History with support from Gary Smaby. The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Wonder/Think Project

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The cognitive acts of thought and wondering have become more public with the emergence of mainstream social media. Our ability to find answers to what we wonder about has advanced as Internet search tools continue to improve. The Wonder/Think Project explores how the shift toward an online social culture has shaped our ability to wonder and changed how we think about the unknown.

Our project consists of multiple simultaneous projections that invite the audience to consider what people worldwide are thinking about and wondering about right now. It is a site-specific installation that displays real-time Twitter messages that start with “I wonder” or “I think” and pairs those messages with related images found via The resulting stream of information offers a spontaneous glimpse into the lives of others and the opportunity to wonder about the people behind those social media posts.

By isolating and relocating social media messages and photos outside their online context, the Wonder/Think Project challenges participants to consider their intent and style beyond the disposable culture they inhabit. We hope visitors will be initially drawn to the project by curiosity or voyeurism, then will be led to examine and discuss what they wonder about.

Christopher Houltberg

Christopher Houltberg is a Minneapolis-based artist who works in a wide range of media to explore how ordinary corporate structures like Amazon, Twitter, and Flickr guide and frame contemporary life. He received his MFA in visual art at the Art Institute of Boston and is assistant professor at Augsburg College.

Max Harper

Max is a software engineer and computer science researcher. He works on the CrashPlan team at Code 42 Software, building the best data backup software in the world. He has written more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles for computer science journals and conferences.

Palace of Wonder

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

During their month-long residency in the Twin Cities, Patty Mitchell and Robert Lockheed will work with art community leaders, art centers, and teen artists on a collaborative artwork that will include contributions from across our cities and build to a culminating co-created Northern Spark event. The artists have an infectious spirit that feeds their creative environments and installations, all of which include recycled and donated materials. Think balloons, quilts, painted fabrics, sewing stations, and giant installations. Come and be involved!

Patty Mitchell

Patty Mitchell is an artist and social entrepreneur. For twenty years she has facilitated collaborative projects nationally and internationally with a focus on working with artists with developmental disabilities. She is passionate about exploring her own and others’ obsessions and making collaborative artworks. She founded Passion Works Studio in Athens, Ohio, which makes site-specific works, fine art, and art products, and also generates employment opportunities. She received her MFA and BFA in photography from Ohio University, where she was named a Distinguished Alumna.

Robert Lockheed

Robert Lockheed vividly remembers the excitement of exploring art as a child. His love for adventure and the outdoors drew him to Colorado, where he lived for twenty-five years after serving in the Air Force. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a mechanical engineering degree and worked as a plumbing and mechanical consulting engineer, overseeing construction of major
league baseball parks. He has been an organic farmer and massage therapist, and worked with hospice care, providing relaxing touch to clients. During the past two years he has returned to art making: he partners with Patty Mitchell to collaboratively facilitate art programming through Norwich Consulting Services, specializing in working with people with developmental disabilities.


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.

The Peloton

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

A peloton is the pack of cyclists in a race. In this project, visitors to Northern Spark are invited to mount a group of bicycles rigged to a stage. These participants pedal, affecting the show through the electricity they generate. The show, visible to the public, will take the pack of cyclists on a ride through a strange neighborhood of characters. Leading the pack of the Peloton will be a wooden marionette cyclist, who guides the ride. The Peloton creates a hilarious, implausible scenario as a way to reflect on how we manage the almost miraculous act of sharing streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods with each other.

When the Peloton is not in “show” mode, it is available for ad hoc dance parties: just plug in an MP3 player. Not only can you generate tunes for passersby and friends; by pushing through the bike pedals, you can feel the effort required to amplify your music. It’s an opportunity to experience what it takes to generate electricity. The shows occur once an hour. Sign up to ride at the site of the Peloton.

Presented by Northern with support from Forecast Public Art, The Playwrights’ Center, Red Eye Theater, and the Jerome Foundation.

Janaki Ranpura

Janaki Ranpura believes in making it fun to live cheek-to-jowl. She builds nomadic structures that promote enjoyment of human density. As a designer, she values intimacy and mobility. She unites technology with the traditional stagecraft of puppet theater. Projects evolve from her experience as a performer, community artist, writer, and designer for parades and stage.

Yoga meditation – That Sweet Moon Language

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

We offer yoga and meditation for all levels, followed by a short play inspired by Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz. Join us as the sun sets near the crossing at 28th street and the Greenway.

Yonic Arts Collective is a group of multitalented creative women from numerous artistic backgrounds. Since our founding in September 2011, we have had the privilege to dance at Patrick’s Cabaret, perform spoken word and music for Nathan Blumenshine’s campaign for the Minnesota legislature, and dance at the Bryant–Lake Bowl. If you are interested in joining our weekly gatherings, contact

Treadprint Posters

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Participants will create works of art with their bike tires through a special process involving crushed chalk. Each “treadprint” poster will be unique, depending on the bike tire and how the artist chooses to bike over the poster paper. Keep your work of art or hang it in our public gallery on the Greenway.

ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by artists from the host city. Admission is always free, and posters are priced to allow everyone to take home at least one.

LOCUS Architecture Minneapolis crafts meaningful architecture for clients who care about their spaces and what they represent.

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The Owls Are Not What They Seem is a site-specific installation that transforms the pavilion of Father Hennepin Bluffs Park into an imagined habitat for a school of squirmy critters. This is a place to dance, pet, and play with imaginary nocturnal beings in their native setting. The structure will become a bright beacon, visible all over the park.


Members of Keepers—Rachel James, Kit Leffler, Andrea Steudel, Yuichiro Tanabe, and Josh Winkler—have collaborated in different combinations for various projects over the years. Andrea Steudel and Yuichiro Tanabe worked together in the Minneapolis Art on Wheels project (MAW), making mobile projections, most notably traveling to Kitchen Budapest for workshops and public performances. Rachel James and Steudel worked on FantaShanty for the 2010 incarnation of the Art Shanty Projects. Most recently, Kit Leffler, Josh Winkler, and James formed Secret Knots Gallery.

Tai Chi: Movements for Well Being

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In essence Tai Chi is specific but uncomplicated low-impact movements of the body, often described as meditation in movement. The extensive for the Well Being of mind, body, and spirit are optimized when the graceful movements are combined with good postural alignment, correct breathing, and an uncluttered, softly focused mind. 
Natural Step School in Minneapolis is dedicated to making Tai Chi enjoyable, easy to learn, and accessible to everyone regardless of age or ability.
 Natural Step offers classes at Open Book and is not a martial art school.

Presented by Colin Snow, founder of Natural Step

Supported by Open Book

Sparkler Conversations

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Using sparklers, create works of “word art” that will be captured by camera and projected on walls and bridges in the Greenway.

At the Experimental College of the Twin Cities anything can happen . . . like sparkler conversations. Have you always longed for the chance to follow an entomologist? Or academically bask in your love of New York here in Minnesota? Or perhaps teach that strange party trick you picked up in Canada to a group of eager participants?

The experimental college movement started in the late 1960s as a reaction to mainstream education. During the spring of 2006 a group of students created our own ExCo here in Minneapolis–St. Paul. In the spirit of the ExCo movement, it strives to offer the Twin Cities community the opportunity to teach or learn in a space open to alternative education and all kinds of knowledge, including and beyond academics. Anyone can teach or take a class, and every class is free! For more information, check out our website,, where you can find a class list or sign up to teach a class.

Raptor Meet-and-Greet

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Live raptors perched outside the museum! This program includes three live raptors on display with two highly trained educators. Participants can ask questions, take photos, or just relax and watch the raptors.

Established in 1974 as part of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, the Raptor Center rehabilitates more than 700 sick and injured raptors each year, while helping to identify emerging environmental issues related to raptor health and populations. An internationally renowned education facility, the Raptor Center trains veterinary students and veterinarians from around the world to become future leaders in raptor medicine and conservation, and also reaches more than 200,000 people annually through its unique public education programs and events.

Presented by the Weisman Art Museum and the Raptor Center

Letterpress Lock-In

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Lunalux has been sharing the ancient craft of letterpress printing with the local community since 1993. One of our favorite mediums for expression is wood-type posters. Our Loring Park studio houses a collection of vintage dingbats, decorative cuts, and lead and wood type; these concrete elements provide both wonderful inspiration and challenging constraints for presenting information and expressing whimsical or deep thoughts.

During Northern Spark, the artists at Lunalux will be locked in for a letterpress all-nighter. Usually the process of designing and printing a poster might be stretched over days or even weeks. On the night of June 9, we’re kicking the creative process into overdrive and printing a unique edition every hour. And we’re counting on the Northern Spark crowd to tell us what to print:
visitors are invited to submit ideas for potential production during the festival. Guests can wander through our studio to see the printing process up close and personal. Look on as we dig through our collection of type and decorative elements, create quick-fire compositions, and pull prints on our hand-cranked 1960s-era Vandercook SP-15 proof press. Hot-off-the-press prints will be given
away all night long.

Letterpress Lock-In printers:

Jenni Undis, Lunalux
Morgan Hiscocks, Lunalux
Mary Bruno, Bruno Press
Chank Diesel, alphabetician and artist
Ruthann Godollei, printmaker and art professor, Macalester College
Bill Moran, Blinc Publishing
Chip Schilling, Indulgence Press

Lake Street Luminary Promenade

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Highpoint Center for Printmaking and the Bakken Museum invite you to partake in an electric spectacle of handmade magnetic luminaries and printed paper lanterns as part of the Lake Street Luminary Promenade. Create magnetic “lightning bugs” that will
adhere to light posts, bike racks, and parking meters along the Lake Street sidewalk in front of Highpoint. Print relief block images onto glowing paper lanterns that can be strung along the Luminary Promenade or in the rain garden behind Highpoint’s studio.

Leave a lightning bug or lantern at Highpoint to make your mark on the site, and take another with you to light your way across the city. But before venturing into the night, enjoy live music and wood-fired pizza, and take in the 2011–12 Jerome Residency Exhibition in Highpoint’s gallery.


Wood-fired pizza  6 – 8:30 pm
Music  6 – 9 pm
Lake Street Luminary Promenade 6 – 11 pm


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. 

Lighted Recycled T-shirt Rain

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Inspiration of design: see it, feel it, touch it, share it.
Lighted Recycled T-shirt Rain (LRTR) is an interior ceiling light made with recycled T-shirts decorated with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and electroluminescence (EL), hung from the ceiling with transparent wires. This art piece, which can be an actual light source, was inspired by sustainability, technology, and fashion. As fast fashion becomes a major trend, its harmful influences, such as increasing amounts of waste from the fashion industry on the environment, the economy, and society, are revealed.

Lighted Recycled T-shirt Rain encourages consumers to think about sustainability when buying garments. A fashion designer and a researcher, Helen S. Koo centers on sustainability and technology as she works with LEDs, ELs, fiber optics, and other electric lighting technologies in fashion and interior design. She applies her expertise in sustainability and lighting technology to Lighted Recycled T-shirt Rain for Northern Spark.

Lighted Recycled T-shirt Rain not only expresses an idea regarding sustainable fashion but also allows people to touch, walk through, take pictures, and have fun with the artwork. Visitors actually see, feel, and interact with it. Koo made this art to share with others and wants them to get involved by walking and sitting in the rain of the lighted T-shirts and naturally thinking about sustainability and fashion while enjoying the art.

Glow & Go

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

See and be seen! The American Swedish Institute welcomes you with free parking for bikes and cars and glowing luminaries lighting the way into our castle courtyard.

Whether traveling by bike, car, or foot, we urge you to apply your own crafty vibes to yarn-bomb your bike (or body!) with glow-in-the-dark beads, yarn, and other glittery sparkle. For additional glow-on-the-go, make a simple paper luminary to take home. Taste
an organic hot dog, served Swedish-style with creamy mashed potatoes, along with a cold beer, pop, or glass of wine at our romantically lit outdoor food bar.

While engaging in these deLIGHTful activities, you can listen to the forward sounds of the Eclectic Ensemble, an ambient experimental group that draws on jazz free-form improvisation, Asian harmonic structure, African, Middle Eastern, and Indonesian
interlocking rhythms, and ambient texture schemes. The Eclectic Ensemble seeks to spark the imagination of its audiences and provoke new interactions through its distinctive sound—an unusual arrangement of rhythm, texture, timing, and presentation.

And while you’re here, catch a glimpse through the glowing two-story windows of the new Nelson Cultural Center next to the castle, which will open on June 30, 2012.

Explorations on Non-Intention

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Inspired by John Cage’s aleatory experiments in musical, written, and visual composition, MCBA hosts a night of printmaking, sound installation, and performance.

Printmaking: Roll of the Dice

Artist: Monica Edwards Larson
Location: Letterpress studio, Open Book (downstairs)

Join Monica Edwards Larson of Sister Black Press and a team of experienced letterpress printers in making a multilayer print using wood and metal type, found objects, and other alternative letterpress techniques in MCBA’s letterpress studio.

Matrixes may be predetermined, but their order is not. Roll our set of “aleatory dice” and let chance determine what, where, how, and which way you print your paper. Once your chance operation is complete, digitally document your print in MCBA’s bindery. All completed operations documented will be uploaded and projected in MCBA’s front windows for everyone’s pleasure—with popcorn included!

Sound Installation: Moveable Sound Type

Artist: Jonathan Zorn
Location: MCBA gallery and studios

Experience a new sound installation by composer Jonathan Zorn that features captured sounds from MCBA’s environment: the hums, clicks, clanks, splashes, and rumbles of artists at work and equipment in use. Through sampling, layering, and processing, sounds will be recombined and synthesized through a specially created computer program, constructing a kaleidoscope of ambient textures— continuously sounding, never the same. The primary installation will be in MCBA’s gallery, but smaller offshoot experiences may be found throughout MCBA’s studios.

Event Scores: Actions for All Times and Places (for Alison Knowles)

Artist: Jonathan Zorn
Location: MCBA gallery

Originating in John Cage’s famous 1957–59 Experimental Composition classes at the New School for Social Research in New York, event scores became a mainstay of the avant-garde Fluxus movement, providing direction to audience members for the creation of a short art performance. By elevating simple or mundane everyday actions to the level of a public performance, event scores invite reconsideration of the relationship between what is art and what is not art. For Northern Spark, Jonathan Zorn has composed a series of these performative event scores and invites visitors to MCBA’s gallery to collect a set and stage their own impromptu performance at MCBA (or anywhere else) during the festival.

Drawing NIGHTclub

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Join in making collaborative drawings under the twinkling lights of the Open Field Grove. Like the very popular daytime edition, Drawing NIGHTclub invites local artists and the public to grab a pencil and add contributions to an evolving pool of pieces over the course of the night. Think glowsticks and blacklights for this nocturnal round of social art making.

Cycle Saints Installation

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

As you bicycle on a trail or an empty road on a beautiful summer morning or a challenging winter afternoon, do you ever think about why cycling appeals to you? Why do you forgo your car and get out on those two wheels? Are you ever envious of the dashboard saints and roadside shrines that offer good luck charms and places to reflect for drivers? Then visit the Cycle Saints shrine to reflect on what cycling means to you.

This exhibit adapts the car-based dashboard saint and roadside shrine for bicyclists. For this evening only, the Greenway will host a trail-side shrine to imaginary animal saints that embody different aspects of cycling. Cycling connects to many characteristics of our lives, from endurance to relaxation, dexterity to exploration. The shrine will display icons of animal “saints” that illustrate these traits, such as an otter representing playfulness and a salmon representing endurance. This fun installation adopts car-based ideas for cyclists and creates a space for Northern Spark attendees and cyclists to reflect on the more ineffable qualities of bicycling as a practice.

The shrine will be created by Jessica Zeglin, an artist whose paintings focus on animals, plants, and the natural world; our human interactions with nature; and our conceptions of nature, personhood, beauty, and value. Her recent work explores the theme of animals as saints, calling into question the line between our perceptions of high and low value creatures. She lives and works in Minneapolis, where she leads a triple life of public health research, visual art, and music making (as one-half of the band and arts collaborative the ghost test). See her work at

Celebration of Life, Energy and Power: Views of Our World

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The core purpose of the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC) is to empower young people to change our world through science. The KAYSC engages 100 youth in grades 7–12 every year in out-of-school-time (OST) science programming— after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer. Programs target students from communities underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

For Northern Spark the KAYSC is teaming up with artist Ta-Coumba Aiken and the community to explore sustainability through art via science and technology. Stop by and check out the product of this collaboration!

Capturing the Night

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Join the Bell Museum of Natural History at the Weisman Art Museum as we capture the night with sound, light, and art; learn stories of the stars; and call in the creatures of the night.

Presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History with support from Gary Smaby. The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Capturing Insects

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Join us on the Mississippi River road below the Weisman Art Museum as we set out spectacular glowing lights designed to draw both the people and the insects who call this river gorge home. Using large lights and bright white fabric panels, we will draw in the insects from the surrounding river and trees. Here is a chance to view these ephemeral creatures closeup, even magnified. Learn to these local insects and observe a collection of pinned insects from around the world.

Located at the Weisman Art Museum on East River Road Lawn

Presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History with support from Gary Smaby. The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Body Pong

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Throw your body into this game of Pong! Using your silhouette instead of paddles in this interactive projection, you will experience the game like never before.

The research and development of Body Pong was supported by the Learning Technologies Center (LTC), a department within the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM). The project came out of LTC’s work with computer games and game programming, especially related to its strong interest in software that makes programming and sensors more accessible to the public. Aaron Heidgerken, an exhibit programmer at SMM, and Asia Ward, an education program specialist for LTC, developed Body Pong with a hacked Kinect sensor and creative open-source software. Aaron was the key programmer, and Asia modified the game to enhance visitor interaction; she also exhibits and represents the game during events.

Body Pong was developed with the Xbox Kinect sensor, libfreenect, as the open-source driver, Openframeworks and Xcode as the application and programming languages, and OpenKinect as the community support and example library. All these tools make it possible for participants to have touchscreen functionality from 10 to 15 feet away and to interact with the Body Pong ball simply by moving their body. Players can pick up the ball or bump it away. It’s easy to play the game: walk within ten feet of the screen and suddenly you are in it, represented on the screen by your own silhouetted image.

Asia demonstrates Body Pong during Northern Spark to encourage participants, artists, and game designers to learn more about interactive game development and projection programming. Body Pong is an easy, fun, and entertaining way to engage in new creative game technology and programming.

Between Earth and Sky: Indigenous Star Lessons from Turtle Island

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Throughout human history, cultures around the world have been applying the latest version of “cutting edge technology” to explain and explore scientific phenomena. Using the technology of the ExploraDome program, Dakota science educator Jim Rock will take us on a comprehensive journey of the night sky as the indigenous people of Minnesota see and understand it.

Located at the Weisman Art Museum in the Shepherd Room

Presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History with support from Gary Smaby. The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Northern Spark @ Open Field

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Artist interventions and activities plus select galleries are open all night with special one-night-only installations of artworks from the collection.

Exhibitions: One Night Only

8:58 pm – 5:26 am

The exhibitions Midnight Party and Absentee Landlord open for a special late-night edition, spiked with rarely seen work from the Walker collection that will be installed for one night only in conjunction with Northern Spark. Works include an appearance by Franz Marc’s Die grossen blauen Pferde (TheLarge Blue Horses), 1911.


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Set up along the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis near the Weisman Art Museum, AutoNocturnal consists of six tiny automatons, each depicting behaviors of a different nocturnal animal, such as the owl, the wolf, and the bat. With the nighttime Mississippi River as a background, each automaton incorporates a mix of high and low technologies to enable audience participation and interaction, magical thinking, and wonder.

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.

All About Owls

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Get in touch with your night owl. Explore the different owls found in Minnesota and their role in the environment. Participants learn the three key features of all raptors and why they are different from other birds. We discuss the positive and negative impact of humans on our environment. Finally, we learn about the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota and its important work in protecting raptors and the world we share.

Established in 1974 as part of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, the Raptor Center rehabilitates more than 700 sick and injured raptors each year, while identifying emerging environmental issues related to raptor health and populations. An internationally renowned education facility, the Raptor Center trains veterinary students and veterinarians from around the world to become future leaders in raptor medicine and conservation, and also reaches more than 200,000 people annually through its unique public education programs and events.

Presented by the Weisman Art Museum and the Raptor Center

A Night of Arts and Healing

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Empowerment Drumming

Location: West side of the Washington Avenue Foot Bridge
Hours: 8:45 – 9:30 pm

Experience the sensation of building community, connections, and your own sense of empowerment through drumming. Bring your own rhythm instrument or play one of the many that will be available on site. Discover the power of rhythm and its role in
calming, energizing, and healing the body and soul.

Guided Meditation with Wellscapes

Location: Target Studio at the Weisman Art Museum
Hours: 10 pm and midnight

Tap into the healing power of nature by immersing yourself in nature’s splendor. Wellscapes is a series of five video retreats, designed to reduce stress and promote wellbeing. Minnesota photographer Craig Blacklock, who created the glorious videography, will be your tour guide to the stunning natural settings. Together you will watch, listen, and meditate. When you return from your retreat experience, we’ll ask for feedback, as other Wellscapes are in the make!

Storytelling, Imagery and Mandalas

Location: Target Studio at the Weisman Art Museum
Hour: 1 am

Connect with the power of story and its capacity to bring new meaning into our lives. These stories will be utilized to spark creativity and foster a guided imagery experience. Images from the storytelling and imagery experiences will be incorporated into the creation of a personal mandala that will be yours to keep!

Sun Salutations and Morning Movements

Location: Target Studio at the Weisman Art Museum (outdoors if weather permits)
Hour: 5 am – 6 am

 Greet the dawn with a traditional morning meditation and exercise, designed for each new day and all new beginnings. Discover how movements that connect body/mind/spirit can help to set a positive intention. Gracefully transition from this experience into Empowerment Drumming to celebrate the festival’s finale!


Presented with generous support from the Smaby Family Foundation


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


Friday, February 10th, 2012

TönöSauna is a wood-burning sauna shanty built from a salvaged 1966 Avion travel trailer located in Minneapolis. It is a social and civic space, a mobile new media platform for public talks, art, and presentations in which people can rest and warm themselves during the harsh winter months of the Upper Midwest. The Avion’s aluminum skin is the same as World War II military aircraft, now reclaimed in service of the public good. The custom-built interior mimics the construction of the trailer and contains curved, organic CAD/CAM fabricated benches. TönöSauna is an ergonomic landscape meant to accommodate a wide variety of body positions and body types.

We designed a series of 3D modeled and CAD/CAM fabricated inflatable structures to accompany the sauna at Northern Spark. The inflatables will be filled with snow, providing an artificial wintry landscape for visitors to inhabit in tandem with TönöSauna. The snowy inflatables will contain a field of LEDs, which respond to the atmospheric qualities and offer an interactive component to the spaces. The form and orientation of the inflatables will create a procession of expanding and contracting spaces to and from the sauna. Each inflatable will accommodate a different number of people and activities.

TönöSauna was originally commissioned by Art Shanty Projects 2012, a four-week art event on frozen Medicine Lake, Minnesota. We built a sauna because it is an important and restorative social space in the Upper Midwest, where temperatures dip below -20 degrees Celsius more than thirty days of the year. By making the sauna mobile, we can bring it to Twin Cities neighborhoods unfamiliar with or underserved by such a needed social space. We encourage people to come out of their homes and join others at the public talks, sound installations, and classes in the TönöSauna.

The Birdhouse: A Guild-of-One Art Extrusion

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Welcome to the Guild-of-One Art Extrusion Facility. Here you will find a small structure built as an upscale birdhouse, similar to a nest in a zoo: peer in through glass ports to find an artist and a large spool of art. Working diligently through the night, the Guild of One will add works to this spool. You are welcome to watch — or barter for “art by the foot.” See art made right before your eyes and enter an arrangement with the Guild of One to acquire a piece.


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.

CSA pick-up

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Springboard for the Arts and celebrate the launch of the third season of Community Supported Art (CSA) with a pick-up event in conjunction with the Northern Spark festival, featuring a special behind-the-scenes look at Lunalux and its practice. Even if you’re not a shareholder in CSA, we invite you to come to Lunalux and appreciate our vibrant local art community, learn about new economies in the arts, and enjoy Northern Spark.

Developed by and Springboard for the Arts, the CSA program supports artists and the engaged local arts community. CSA supports artists in the creation of new work, by helping them establish relationships with local collectors and patrons, and by providing an exciting new model of art distribution. CSA member benefits include multiple works of original art from emerging and midcareer artists at a fantastic value! CSA shareholders have the opportunity to develop relationships with local artists, discover new artists, explore a variety of disciplines, directly support artists’ careers, and actively participate in a vibrant arts community. 


Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

In 2011 one of the most anticipated and successful events of Northern Spark was GLOWaBOUT, the urban gaming program in Loring Park organized by Bridget Beck and Carissa Samaniego. We are thrilled to bring back this project in 2012.

GLOWaBOUT is a nightlong city game that depends on large-scale public participation. Join in the fun—it’s accessible to everyone! GLOWaBOUT combines the spirit of nostalgic neighborhood games and the Indian Holi Festival to create a new event that glows, sparkles, and excites. This high-energy game is an intense visual experience.

The night begins with fortress building in the heart of Minneapolis with teams glow yellow and glow blue. After the encampments are nailed, hammered, and spray painted, get ready for a wild ceremony and processional with lots of garbage-can lid drums and homemade instruments. Then, let the games begin! Teams will take the field outside MCAD and play several rounds of Capture the Glowing Orb. Don’t know how to play? No problem—we will teach you. If you need to catch your breath between rounds or if you have come to cheer on participants, we provide the perfect place to hang out near our barrel bonfires.

Make sure you wear your best Glow Bandit costume: co-creators Beck and Samaniego dare you to champion their wild costume designs. There will be Glow Bandit face painting throughout the night, and the Pigment Throw Zone will be open during game play. Toss some color on your opponent, significant other, or friend, and watch the beautiful puffs of pigmented powder as they linger and mix in the air. Bring your camera for this amazing display as MCAD becomes a magical environment.

Bridget Beck

Bridget Beck was born in South Dakota and educated in South Dakota and Minnesota. Her large scale sculptures have been exhibited nationally and has been immersed in sculpture creation from Mark di Suevero’s Space Time Studio in New York to Kentucky’s Josephine Sculpture Park. Her work centers on the action of play and attempts to expose the complex intersections of place, belonging, and object. She has co-created other participatory art events, including the Winter Battle at Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota.

Carissa Samaniego

Carissa Samaniego was born in Colorado but has been a longtime resident of Minnesota. Her artwork takes the form of large-scale abstracted sculptures in a variety of materials. She is inspired by costume design, textiles, patterns, and the hype of a festival. Among the other participatory art events she has worked on are the Art Shanty Projects, a 24-hour art making event for Art-a-Whirl in Minneapolis, and the Watermelon/Watercraft Clash on the St. Croix River.


Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Celebrate honors the majestic maple on the grounds of the Minneapolis Institute of Art at the corner of 24th  St. and 3rd Ave. Rising more than 60′ into the sky, this tree is a wondrous specimen. For Northern Spark it will be adorned with multiple mirrored balls and lights, gifting this tree with its own celebratory party. The reflected light will bring the normal dappled light that drifts through its canopy to the nighttime.  Stop by to marvel at the sight and think about how quickly our celebration of the natural can turn artificial.  

Aaron Dysart

Aaron Dysart studied at The University of Minnesota, receiving his MFA in 2002. In 2007 he received a Jerome Fellowship through Franconia Sculpture Park and was awarded a fellowship for sustainable art making through Public Art St. Paul in 2008. Later he engaged with Public Art St. Paul leading walks with scientists along the Mississippi river. Recently Aaron was awarded a Public Project Grant through Forecast Public Art to make a rowboat out of soap and row it on the Mississippi. Aaron has exhibited nationally and is now producing work and living in Minneapolis and is an adjunct professor at Anoka Ramsey Community College.