Northern Spark 2015

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Mill Ruins, just before the beginning

Another ethereal, crowded, thought-provoking night of art and wonder in Minneapolis, here are a few highlights from my adventures this time around. This year, the weather held and the night sky began to clear out into the early hours of the morning. I wandered, by foot and by bike it from Mill City to Downtown, taking in the sights and the people watching. It was the first NS I traversed downtown Minneapolis, and I really enjoyed how downtown seemed to have been all but taken over by bicyclists and pedestrians. I certainly did not experience all of the , but that is part of the fun, as you never know what kind of scene or idea you’ll stumble into next on your exploration. I just chose a few must sees and let the rest of the night unfold as it happened, an open feeling that, I feel, enhanced by the free admission to all the night had to offer, though there were still plenty of food trucks on hand to choose from; it was hard to decide, and I ended up having a delicious wood fired pizza from Wild Earth Mobile Pizza Bakery, made in an oven pulled by a refurbished school bus. Here are a few highlights from my night in 2015.

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Images of Syrian refugees nestled in the American ruins.

Starting out in the Mill City ruins, I roamed around the riverside parks, with their crumbling remains of former industry, watching the crowds gather and trying to decide which food truck to visit.

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People prepare to brave the Night Library, to confront the horrors of censorship

I, of course, had a lot of fun in the Night Library, the Hennepin County Library’s first project at the Northern Spark, it proved very popular with a line backing up all the way up to the Stone Arch Bridge. Fortunately, I arrived early among many other librarians and library workers from the metro- delving into the maze proved a fun challenge- I’m excited to see what the library offers next year!

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Images of attendees projected onto the Mill City silos, ghostly and comical giants towering over the festivities below.

After biking downtown, among posses of cyclists, I explored what was going on in Peavy Plaza, Orchestra Hall, and the Convention Center. Everywhere you looked, people were doing amazing looking things, music was tinkling through the air, and celebration was under way, even at 2 am.

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Downtown at 2 am. Still awake!

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A couple of the Game Lounge games

Inside Orchestra Hall, the UCLA Game Lab had set up a variety of innovative, bizarre, and challenging video games, designed to “test the limits” of the art form. From the nostalgic rampaging of Burn and Turn, to the “refuge in audacity” parody of Perfect Woman, a motion capture game prompting players to craft the perfect woman’s life, from childhood to old age, from Child Worker or Princess to 7-11 Employee or Whale Hunter to Woman Angry About her Daughter Becoming a Man or Tribal Matriarch. Happily, everyone dies as an old astronaut at the age of 115, though trying to imitate the movements of the characters on screen is a fun and difficult trick.

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The constructed skylines of Mini_Polis, described by a passerby by as “A little baby Minneapolis!” invites viewers to wander among the tiny, but familiar, streets and leave messages of their love of the city on the buildings with chalk.

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Rival writers take on the weight of the Canon as they attempt to respond to a nautical, Moby Dick themed prompt in the dry pools of Peavy Plaza.

Write Fight, Revolver’s on going competitive writing event was a pretty awesome way to end off the year, as rival writers stepped up to prove their wordsmithing under the crushing weight of the seminal works that came before, while an audience hungry for blood and similes stood by waiting to lend their approval to one or the other contestant. Moby Dick was described, entertainingly, as “a Wikipedia article sandwiched between two short novels,” and there was much discussion of the thoughts of mermen. Next year, I pledge to attempt the rather medieval looking apparatus, and the formidable skills of Revolver writers, myself.

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