‘Orbacles’ wins 2017 Creative City Challenge

Interactive art on The Commons this summer

“Orbacles” by MINN_LAB won the 2017 Creative City Challenge. MINN_LAB comprises Ross Altheimer, Kirk Davis, Robert Hunter, Daniel Keefe, Katie Loecken, Andrea Johnson, Seth Johnson, Mike McGrath, Patrick Moe, Maura Rockcastle, Marc Swackhamer and Aaron Wittkamper. “Orbacles” will debut on The Commons June 10 as part of Northern Spark, an annual dusk-to-dawn festival in Minneapolis with tens of thousands of participants. The art will remain on The Commons through July 31, 2017 for public participation and as the site of public events.


Under this year’s Northern Spark theme of Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, “Orbacles” is a trio of spheres that connect directly with visitors about climate change through the story of birds and the language of our senses. The orbs communicate the recorded and the anticipated shift of birds due to species loss/species migration related to climate effects, and the interconnected transformation of land and water environments.

“It is with excitement that the jury reviewed the diverse and artistic projects of the finalists created for the Creative City Challenge, celebrating its fifth anniversary and changed location to the Commons area,” said Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer at 3M Company and CCC Jury Chair. We want to congratulate the winning project, “Orbacles” a sculptural installation telling the story and engaging with the community about the influence of climate change to birds in Minnesota. Three spherical environments, referred to as Orbs, will connect directly with the visitors through multiple sensorial experiences and will stimulate an interactive dialogue about people and their natural environments in to the future.”

The orbs represent time snapshots from 2017 to 2080, presenting species loss over those periods. Each of the three orbs is filled with a different material: wood for shelter, plastic for feed and metal for water. Each orb has a different sensory interface for visitors, inviting varied experiences through light, sound, smell and touch. Orb A is an elevated bird habitat, programmed to exhibit the climate effects of species loss by projecting the calls of extinct Minnesota birds. Orb B is a bird feeder, programmed to show the climate effects of plant zone shifts and their impact on bird species by providing an opportunity for birds to feed. Orb C is a bird bath, programmed to demonstrate the climate effects of precipitation increase through water collection, distribution and timed misting.

More about the Creative City Challenge

Tthe Creative City Challenge is a competition for Minnesota-resident architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds to create and install a temporary, destination artwork that acts as a sociable and participatory platform for two months of onsite programming and encourages a sense of connectedness to the city and its rich cultural and natural offerings. 

The commission fee for the winning project is $50,000 for all artist fees, installation and de-installation costs. Past winners were the Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI) in 2013, Balancing Ground in 2014, mini_polis in 2015, and Wolf and Moose in 2016.

For 2017, the Creative City Challenge competition moves to The Commons, the new 4.2-acre public green space and an anchor in the Downtown East area’s transformation. The Commons covers two blocks across from the U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s an active space for the public to relax and play, and in the summer of 2017 it will host large special events including Northern Spark June 10 and the X Games July 13-16. The Commons hosts a range of other events including community gatherings, company picnics, weddings and events related to the stadium.

The Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis collaborates in the Creative City Challenge with The Commons and Northern Lights.mn and the Northern Spark festival.

Find more information here.





Published Feb 9, 2017



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