New mobile app offers some local artistic guidance

Northern SparkLate this Saturday night, long after the bar crowd has cabbed home, you might notice droves of people lingering about downtown Minneapolis.

No, it’s not yet another sign of the impending zombie apocalypse; it’s Northern Spark, an urban art festival beginning at dusk on June 9th and concluding at sunrise the following morning.

This will be the second iteration for the event, which is tailored after the Nuit Blanche overnight festival format that was popularized in Europe. This year marks the first time that participants will be able to take advantage of a dedicated mobile app to help guide them through the festivities.

There will be plenty to keep track of. Sixty collaborators have come together to work on over 100 projects for the festival, which will span six “nodes” across Minneapolis.

“The idea is to turn the city into an unusual art gallery for one night,” says Steve Dietz, artistic director for the project.

Dietz notes that last year’s inaugural event drew some 20,000 people, and that navigating this sprawling citywide exposition proved a challenge for many. With that in mind, PR firm Carmichael Lynch enlisted the studio Pixel Farm to develop a mobile app that would help people find their way about while better engaging with the experience.

That app is now available for both Android and Apple, and it comes packed with features. People can learn about the exhibits, view a heat map showing what’s most popular at any given time, and engage socially with fellow art enthusiasts. The app features Twitter integration, enabling users to tweet with specialized hashtags for each artist, and participation is encouraged by prizes that can be earned through active tweeting.

“Every time you tweet it’s akin to pulling a slot machine lever and seeing if you win something,” explains Matt Weier of Pixel Farm, adding that the app was built to offer limited offline functionality for users who aren’t able to access the internet.

Attending Northern Spark is free, as is the mobile app, so local art lovers have no excuse to miss out on this unique, tech-integrated festival.

Provided they can stay up that late, of course.