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2097: Live in Hull and Aarhus – the full story

2097: Live in Hull and Aarhus – the full story

The future literally knocks on the door in 2097: We Made Ourselves Over. It insists on being let in and examined in all its aspects and implications.

Kunsten-nu

 

Our biggest and most ambitious work to date, 2097: We Made Ourselves Over was inspired by the citizens of two cities and sought to build on the unnerving and exhilarating idea that we all have the power to act and influence the future.

Working in Aarhus, Denmark, the current European Capital of Culture, and Hull the current UK City of Culture – we ran workshops with school kids, young people and the over 60s to ask people about the big questions facing us in the future. We spoke to experts in digital currencies, climate change, artificial intelligence and even a tarot reader to help us sketch out futures that are probable, possible or desirable in a series of expert interview films.

The ideas and challenges raised by the people of Hull and Aarhus set out where we began with the stories for the 2097 science-fiction films. What is it that makes a community? And what are the things that sustain us in the face of change? The films consider the themes and questions raised in the workshops – from death and the idea of transferring knowledge to the young when we die, to machines and how cities grow for the good of the community.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

Shot in the UK and Denmark during July 2017, the 2097 films take place at the cusp of the next century and follow the journey of three young girls who must make a decision which will affect their entire city. In the first month of being online, the five films were watched ten thousand times on YouTube alone.

2097 Film 5: Wading the water  2097 Film 5

Throughout the summer the project gathered pace; as giant screens at Hull City FC matches flashed futuristic scenes of Hull in 80 years time and mysterious images of phone boxes appeared on people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds – word was spreading that something big was coming to Hull.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over  2097: We Made Ourselves Over

On October 1st the phone boxes of Hull rang together. Queues formed outside the city’s unique cream phone boxes as hundreds of people gathered to wait for the call. The future was arriving and it came to every neighbourhood across the city.

At the end of the line Hessa – one of the three rulers of the future city – asked for your help. From the hundreds of people who answered and the thousands who rang in over the course of the month, hundreds of recordings were made; gathering ideas for the future of the city.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

“Very thought provoking, I won’t be around in 80 years but my future family will. It is quite scary where the world is going and how it’s developing and changing. My parents are dead but I’m sure things that are happening today were never thought of, or were they? Technology is fabulous but also advancements sometimes happen so quick.” – 2097: Live in Hull participant.

From fairs, parks and shopping centres to outside pubs, chip shops and post offices – over five weekends people came in their thousands to watch the 2097 films at pop-up screenings across Hull.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

And as the phone boxes rang and film screenings took place, electric cars began a journey around the city, picking up hundreds of passengers from phone boxes over the five weekends of October. Each journey brought passengers face-to-face with a character from 2097; inviting them to reflect on the changes they’d like to see in the decades to come.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over  2097: We Made Ourselves Over

In Aarhus too, we were overwhelmed by the incredible response to 2097, with the first wave of tickets selling out in days and the second and third ticket releases also selling out almost immediately. Every evening from Monday 30 October to Sunday 5 November, a fleet of private electric cars arrived in the city, taking people to a secret location where they were dropped into the science fiction world of 2097.

“The kaleidoscopic view from the covered windows at the rear of the car, mixed with the narrator’s stories and the sleepy synth music makes the future suddenly seem present. The Aarhus, which rolls past the kaleidoscope window, is not the Aarhus I know. It’s a city that suddenly feels strange. A city that has been demolished and recreated countless times of molecular harvesting machines. A city where memories are transferred from the dying to the living as ink droplets in a glass of water.” – Ask Hastrup, 2097: Live in Aarhus participant, Kunsten-nu.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over 2097: We Made Ourselves Over

Exploring tunnels, stairwells, and floodlit spaces using a handheld audio GPS device with voices from the future, a story is slowly revealed : “I get to a staircase, and from there I go up under the open sky again. Here I am greeted by an overwhelming sight. What looks like hundreds of little light spots shine on the otherwise large, dark space that I have to explore to put together the jigsaw puzzle.” – 2097: Live in Aarhus participant, Fine Spind.

2097: Live in Aarhus 2097: Live in Aarhus

Alone with the beautiful electronic soundtrack in my ears, I move on into the tunnel. At the end a bright light shines. In the headphones I am introduced to Hessa. She tells me that she has gone where I am now walking, many times. She can remember the walls, how they feel, and how one’s hands feel when they touch them. I turn left at the end of the tunnel and enter the cold evening air. Out into 2097″ – 2097: Live in Aarhus participant, Vink Aarhus.

Finally coming face-to-face with a character from the future, participants were asked to reflect on their desires for the coming century: “The future is where you and those you care about will spend the rest of your life. And what the future looks like depends on the choices you make”  – Ask Hastrup, 2097 participant, Kunsten-nu.

From floating locust farms, habitation pods and molecular harvesters, to kaleidoscopic car journeys, secret night time locations and face to face conversations with characters from the future – 2097 has combined film, live performance and interactive experiences to create a breathtaking sci-fi world 80 years from now.

“Made me think, we are all small but can create changes in everything…” – 2097: Live in Aarhus participant.

 

 

2097: We Made Ourselves Over is a Blast Theory work co-commissioned by Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 in association with KCOM.

If you’d like to still take part then download the 2097 app to watch all five films and play the five interactive episodes.

 

Download for Android 6 or later

Download for iOS9 or later
Download the cap

“They promised us jet packs…”

“They promised us jet packs…”

This time last year, a group of twenty people from around Hull came together to talk about the future of the city.

All over 60 – the eldest born in 1934 – we looked back at the changes over the past 80 years. Central to the discussions was how communities around the city had transformed. Many in the room had lived through the clearance of the neighbourhoods around the Hessle Road, and the creation of Europe’s largest housing estate in Bransholme. In Aarhus too, the 1960’s saw an ambitious re-building of the city at Gellerup following the modernist ideals of Le Corbusier.

 

 

The space age of the 1960’s offered a bold future. One lady at the Hull workshop jokingly remembers: “They promised us jet packs…” – but the reality of the 21st century is somewhat different. The dream of flight, for example, is less marked by adventure than it is by queues at the airport, endless security checks and long haul flights full of red-eyed backpackers and business people. Restless sleep and a feeling of being detached and unrooted are the norm. This summer’s British Airways inflight magazine carried a supplement un-ironically called ‘Belonging’ – showing glossy photos of Caribbean islands where those with enough cash to invest in property can buy their way to citizenship.

 

Diagram titled what do we want in our new communities

 

Back in Hull, a feeling of belonging turns out to be central to discussions of the future – though property ownership doesn’t figure at all. Instead, the focus was how to support young people to live in the city, how to support and grow communities, and an unsentimental recognition that the city is bound to change to survive.

 

 

 

Though there were few firm answers, these discussions and the challenges they raised inspired where we began with the stories for 2097. What is it that makes a community? And what are the things that sustain us in the face of change?

 

Watch the films here

 

It’s 2097. And today you died.

It’s 2097. And today you died.

You can imagine that asking a room full of 10 year old children what 2097 has in store would throw up some interesting responses.

Among the flying cars and hover boards, a surprising number held fairly bleak visions of the future; of being dominated by machines or – one of the three favourite ideas chosen by the group – the city returning to the wild and inhabited by animals with human beings relegated to cages.

 

 

The remaining two ideas chosen as the group’s favorites were an app that lets you transform yourself into any animal. While the third idea, came from this drawing of a device conceived by three pupils from Dorchester Primary School and Christopher Pickering Primary School…

 

“It’s like mind swap…one person goes into another person’s life for a moment.”

Demi from Christopher Pickering describes how it functions: ““an old person and a young person and their brains connect together to make the young person go back into the old person’s time”

The group’s reflections on ageing, living with older family members and themselves getting older became a key inspiration for the stories of 2097 and the app. If you’ve not tried the app then download it now to play.

 

Download for Android 6 or later

Download for iOS9 or later
Download the cap

Adapting to flood risk in a changing climate

Adapting to flood risk in a changing climate


University Professor Dr. Chris Skinner forecasts the floods of tomorrow. His work at the University of Hull looks at the conditions which cause flash floods, and since 2014, he’s run SeriousGeoGames – a project which uses virtual reality and gamification to let people understand flooding and the complex decisions which go into protecting against them.

Chris argues coastal cities in particular must respond to increasingly extreme weather conditions – and he is a firm believer that we must do more to live side by side with the sea. He is however skeptical that Hull will one day be underwater, pointing to the IPCC’s predictions that sea-levels will rise just 1m in the next 80 years.

SeriousGeoGames
SeriousGeoGames: Flash floods

Across the globe, extreme weather and flooding is increasing and this summer’s tenth anniversary of the devastating floods across much of the UK, act as a stark reminder. In Hull alone, three people were killed and over 10,000 homes and businesses were evacuated. Most of the city’s schools closed down and residents were forced out of their homes for months and, in some cases, years.

Our approach to flooding, and the steps we take to protect against it in the future, is now critical. The UK government’s review of flood resilience highlights the need to build new towns and cities with inbuilt flood defences such a sea walls. Yet towns such as Pickering in North Yorkshire contradict this approach – successfully withstanding major regional flooding in 2016 using natural protections such as ‘leaky dams’ made of logs and branches.

In Aarhus, Denmark, climate change is also on the agenda. On a recent trip to the city, Signe Marie-Iversen from the Center for Environment and Energy, shows us a satellite map of Aarhus on which she has cryptically written in biro: ‘100-years incident in 2050’.

Aarhus docklands
Aarhus docklands at night

Large areas on the map are marked in pale blue: the river valley west of the city centre, the well-to-do suburbs of Vejlby-Risskov to the north – indicating predictions for flooding in the case of extreme rainfall. The city’s new waterfront developments, including the landmark Iceberg building, are marked in pink: at risk of flooding due to storm surges.

Signe seems sanguine about the potential impact on the city of a ‘one in a hundred year’ event, and well versed in the complexity of balancing the practical needs of the city with the increased risk of flooding as the climate changes.

This month, a £14m project was announced in Hull that works with the environment to protect against flooding. The project, which uses drainage lagoons and aqua storage systems to store excess water, offers the best hope yet that the devastating floods of 2007 are not repeated.

Whether nature offers the best protection against flooding, or man made defences, such as higher levees and sea walls – it’s clear that more urgency is needed when it comes to adapting to the new reality of our global climate.

 

Watch Chris’s interview

 

Image credits: Creative Commons, David Finch / Flickr and Søren Rajczyk, Flickr

Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #its2097 and #expertinterview

 

Casting Call

Casting Call

Want to star in a series of sci-fi shorts?

Are you an actor and up for a new challenge? The search is on for two older Danish actors as a casting call launches for major roles in a series of short sci-fi films being shot in the city.

The sci-fi films are part of the Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 commissioned 2097: We Made Ourselves Over, a year-long interactive art project by internationally renowned artists group Blast Theory that invites the cities of Aarhus and Hull, UK to reimagine their communities 80 years in the future.

Now, Blast Theory are looking for one male and one female actor in their late 50s to take part in filming in Hull and Aarhus in June and July 2017. The films will be screened online and in both cities later this year.

Matt Adams from Blast Theory says: “It is the year 2097 and a new era is dawning in the city of Aarhull. Mass and Varda are in their late 50s and are ready to walk an epic journey.

“Can you see yourself playing one of these imaginative sci-fi roles? Can you swim and are you up for a challenge? If you want to help bring this vision of the future to life we’d love to hear from you.”

Interested candidates are asked to register their interest by emailing gizmo@caster.com by 22 May, with their name, age, address and a recent photograph. Good luck!

Auditions will take place in Aarhus on 24 May.

 

How can technology rebuild trust and create social value?

How can technology rebuild trust and create social value?

We’re sitting around the table and someone asks: ‘Do Facebook friends really count as friends?’

For everyone at the table – a group of over 60’s from around Hull – the consensus is that communities depend on something inherent in meeting people in person: on finding ways for people to participate, to contribute and to trust one another. Technology seems fraught with problems when it comes to building trust. While our increasing dependence on the internet  raises concerns about privacy and disrupts traditional forms of work.

For Dave Shepherdson, the internet has the potential to create new forms of sharing economies and the revolutionary technology which is set to enable this is Blockchain. Blockchain is the technology underlying the digital currency – Bitcoin – but it’s shown potential for everything from building de-centralised systems which allow people to control their own data to helping refugees verify their identity.

I’m introduced to Dave Shepherdson by chance one rainy Friday afternoon in a busy cafe on Newland Avenue in Hull. Dave is one of the masterminds behind a new digital currency based on this technology called HullCoin. For a good five minutes, he enthuses about how HullCoin will transform our relationships with each other: encouraging participation and giving value to the social contributions we make to communities.

To find out what he had to say, watch his interview here.

 

Watch Dave’s interview

 

What does the future hold?

What does the future hold?

Where to start with predicting 80 years in to the future? Who to ask?

We took a leap and decided to start back in 14th century Italy.

According to Kathleen Robinson of East Yorkshire Tarot, this is where the cards used in present day tarot readings were first established. Originally used for games and entertainment, tarot cards became popular as a form of divination in the 18th century. Last October, on a trip to Hull to visit the famed Hull Fair, we arranged to speak to Kathleen who kindly agreed to give us a free reading to learn about 2097.

So what does the future hold?

We’ll be releasing interviews with people from Aarhus and Hull – from school children to experts on sea-level rise, smart cities and community activism. Each talks about their view of the particular challenges for cities in the future and their hopes for the world at large.

But to start, here’s Kathleen.

We asked what our lives would be like in both Aarhus and in Hull in 2097. And what three challenges the human race will ultimately have to face over the coming 80 years. It was a nerve wracking experience but the implacable Kathleen showed calmness throughout.

Here’s what Kathleen had to say…

 

Watch interview