Blog : Ideas

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

The giant robots of Hedon

The giant robots of Hedon

Aarhus and Hull are both home to some of the largest machines you might get to see.

Across the water from the city centre in each you’ll find the cranes and lifters of their respective ports – moving containers cars and bulk material by the tonne.  While the new Siemens factory in Hull has begun fabricating 75m log turbine blades – the world’s largest handmade fiber glass components cast as a single element.

 

 

Utilitarian All Purpose Droid Mk 3 Version 2 Industrial Type © Droid Foundry

 

Beyond the Siemens factory, in the town of Hedon we visited the house of Paul Benson – a designer and maker of robot miniatures and owner of the Droid Foundry. Paul kindly offered his vision of the machines of the future…

“Technology has the habit of progressing in leaps and bounds and I think there is little doubt robots will be noticeable by their presence in 2097.  They will come in all manner of shapes and sizes, but there will be those that are basically human shaped in terms of having a clearly defined head, torso, arm and leg parts. It would make sense so that could operate equipment and machines designed for human use. I very much doubt whether we will see robots that will actually look like real humans and function like us by 2097.

Basic work robots will be quite utilitarian and designed for many different roles in all weather conditions and environments. With highly efficient and powerful hydraulic systems or rotary motors, robot body forms will be quite simple and straight forward.

Robots may well very expensive to buy and replace so it will be essential for any working part to be replaced quickly and efficiently in any environment and conditions. So for example, should an upper arm unit fail it could be very easily replaced in situ and the robot put back to work as quickly as possible.

Some robots might be seen doing mundane jobs like collecting litter, sweeping roads, unloading cargos etc. whilst others will more dangerous tasks in environments hazardous to humans like working in mines, nuclear power stations, quarries etc. Robots will be capable of working continuously 24/7 until competition of a task, only requiring breaks to reprogramme, recharge their power source or servicing requirements.

In appearance those seen on city streets would be well maintained, possibly brightly coloured and marked with company logos, their designated role and even advertising.  Those working in factories or out in the fields will probably look pretty worn with lots of paint chips, dirt and grime. Robots that are metal fabricated might well be quite rusty.  Replacement parts will stand out as being clean and possibly in different colours.

Setting tasks will be completed via their Artificial intelligence (AI) units which will be some form of flash drive that can be slotted into their head units. The device will allow the robot to be programmed for a particular task which will allow them to perceive their environment and take actions that maximize their chance of successfully completing a task, simple learning in other words. Some robots may have language units that allow them to respond to the spoken word and therefore can be briefed or set new tasks by their human supervisers.  Modifications to basic programming might allow interactions with other robots so that they can work together.”

Paul Benson, the Droid Foundry, Hedon

What’s cooking for the future?

What’s cooking for the future?

 

Scene at the insect farm in Film 3

 

Smoking in-vitro meat on the way to the new city

A guest post from Karolina Thakker – our consultant on the future of food for the 2097 films.

“A man opens his lunchbox. Thanks to its healthy appearance one can tell that he belongs to the upper middle classes. Today he carries a simple salad with dressing, a portable food smoker with thin slices of swan meat and few ampules of microbial shots.

A wooden sweet aroma hits him when he opens the smoker. He uses a pre-packed fragrance set for smoking that includes black tea leaves, rose hips and cardamom. Tea-smoking became popular in the 2030s. This was about the time when China gained a major economic power, Mandarin was taught in schools worldwide, and texts on ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine were discussed by students in pubs.

The man loves tea-smoked swan meat. This time he has paper-thin flower-shaped slices. The meat comes from a lab where it was grown and 3D-printed to these shapes. He has heard stories that millennials would eat meat products every day.  Chicken, beef, pork… meat as a centrepiece surrounded by shy and blunt vegetables. However, the population boom and climate change forced everyone to change their unsustainable diets. Not everyone was ready to go vegan so in-vitro meat began to be grown in large quantities as a source of protein. The man is rather traditional in his choice. Young people nowadays enjoy in-vitro meats of imaginary or long time extinct animals.

The man mixes the swan slices with a salad. The salad consists mainly of wild herbs and greens native to the Scottish Highlands. Its taste reminds him of his childhood in the 2060s. Those were lean times, when human impact on the climate and the environment peaked. Chefs and scientists had to stay creative to find nutritious food. They went to forests, fields and every part of the sea. It was this time that insects became popular. For dressing, he uses oil from coconut larvae worm. It is sweet and fits perfectly with sour dog rose syrup and paste from roasted garlics and chilis. The salad is topped with pieces of fresh coconut and beets.

At last he looks at ampules of microbial shots. His parents were passionate minimalists. A lot of people were back then. Circumstances forced them to lead an ascetic, community life and know basic survival skills. His parents taught him how to read his body needs and eat accordingly. Microbial shots were very common. People used them to feed their digestive flora and prevent diseases.

Nowadays people forget about those times. They digest microbes that allow them to eat rocks and barks. Girls prolong their lactation period to have a continuous supply of fresh milk. ‘We live in crazy times’, he thinks and smears lavender balm under his nose to calm his mind.”

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

Margaret tells me that she will be away this summer – making her annual trip to a remote Pacific island – out of touch from phones and email.

Now over 80 years old and a Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the Department of Informatics at The University of Sussex, Margaret Boden isn’t how you’d picture an expert on artificial intelligence.  The walls of her living room are covered in collections of computer generated art from the 1960s, alongside Balinese puppets and a collection of glass from early history.

Studying medical sciences and later philosophy and psychology, she worked to develop the world’s first academic programme in cognitive science in the 1960s. Though she talks lucidly about technology,  her interest and authority on AI comes from understanding the impact and relationship of AI to people.

In science fiction, robots reflect our deepest desires, needs and fears – they are our slaves, entertainment and our personal assistants – caring for the elderly, serving as companions for the lonely but at the same time threatening to outsmart, outperform and overthrow us.

According to Margaret, far away from the realms of science-fiction, AI is already transforming what it means to be human. Behind every internet search, bank transaction or online movie recommendation, AI is influencing the very fabric of the societies we live in.

Acknowledging AI’s conflicting and complex influence on people, she sees major developments on the horizon: from disrupting work and the jobs we do, to tackling currently incurable diseases and enabling “the generation of previously impossible ideas.”
Watch Margaret’s interview to hear her hopes for the future.

 

Watch Margaret’s interview

 

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

 

What’s next for a sustainable economy?

What’s next for a sustainable economy?

Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement this month could be the most harmful decision to the future of our planet, ever.

His intention to resurrect the United State’s old industries of mining and coal has brought widespread condemnation from business leaders and oil giants alike. Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said that the withdrawal was “bad for the environment, bad for the economy and it puts out children’s future at risk”.  This was echoed by Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, who condemned the President’s move in his first ever tweet.

Potentially turning the clock back decades on environmental policy, what does Trump’s decision mean for the future?

As part of the research for our upcoming sci-fi films imagining life in 2097, we spoke to university professor David Gibbs about the challenge of reconciling global industry and consumption with the need to live sustainably.

David argues that sustainable economies depend on transformations at every level: from government policy  to local networks and ‘green entrepreneurs’ such as the UK farmer who transformed his farm to grow crops for eco-friendly building materials. Ideas such as the ‘steady state’ economy and the ‘circular’ economy – championed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – seek to accelerate this transformation.

 

steel_circular_economy

 

David points to these and to the development of renewable energy, like the gigantic Siemens factories in both Hull and Denmark – producing 75 metre long rotor blades for wind farms in the North Sea – as showing promise that sustainable thinking is now going mainstream.

He frames the challenge today as one of imagination and re-invention.
Can we transform industry to meet our appetites for consumption in a way that is sustainable?

 

Watch David’s interview

 

Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #Its2097 and #ExpertInterview

Grassroots Utopias and how to build them

Grassroots Utopias and how to build them

“The streets are twenty feet broad; there lie gardens behind all their houses… Their doors have all two leaves, which, as they are easily opened, so they shut of their own accord; and, there being no property among them, every man may freely enter into any house whatsoever.”

Thomas More, Utopia, first published in 1516

Arguably the first science fiction ever written, Thomas More’s Utopia has inspired generations of thinkers and writers to imagine new worlds in the future.

Today is a chilly December morning and our host, Christian Juuls Wendell leads me and a group of young people from Hull and Aarhus through a warren of wood workshops: past a blacksmith and out to the area they use for converting shipping containers into anything from food stalls to homes. This is Institut for X in Aarhus, Denmark, a utopia of sorts that has sprung up on the outskirts of the city centre and that is heralded as an example of how to design and manage the cities of the future.

Once home to the city’s homeless and dispossessed, the former railway yard now houses designers, architects, carpenters and artists – who over the last nine years, have built an improvised village from sheds, shacks and old shipping containers. A form of ‘bottom-up’ development, the area provides small scale solutions which in turn act as the fertile soil for building a creative and inclusive city – which adapts to the needs of its citizens.


Its success may be due, in part, to what Christian calls ‘municipal bowling’ – where getting permission from a city government for grassroots development is just a question of finding the right person to persuade. Find the right person and they themselves will advocate for change and persuade the rest of the city administration to come on side.

Torre David, Caracas
Torre David, Caracas


From examples such as Torre David in Caracas – a 45 storey high-rise left abandoned after the collapse of the Venezuelan economy and adapted by a community of 750 families – to digital infrastructure and questions over how and smart technology is deployed in our cities, the arguments about who is best placed to lead development of our cities continues.

Watch Christian’s interview to hear his views from the ground in Aarhus.

 

Watch Christian’s interview

 

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

Take a look at some of the images scriptwriter Matt has been drawing inspiration from to create the world of the five sci-fi films. Can you imagine these buildings, objects and people being part of your city in 80 years time?

Objects

vespers-neri-oxman-3d-printed-death-masks-mediated-matter-group_dezeen_2364_col_21_dezeen
Neri Oxman mask, credit: Dezeen

Thinking about what ceremonial objects may look like 80 years from now, we came across these beautiful 3D printed death masks by Neri Oxman on Dezeen. The bruise-colours and the crystalline quality of the material have a sci-fi edge, almost like the object is alive, “I love the idea that in the future 3D printers will create objects of high cultural value”.

And speaking of 3D printers…

DSC02891_Blast Theory

In January Matt, Ju and Nick were in South Korea and drove past these on the way to Incheon. Machines will undoubtedly change in the next 80 years but cranes from 1937 wouldn’t look that far out of place today.

Buildings

Matt’s been looking at a lot of brutalist architecture from the 50s and 60s because “brutalism was perhaps the last architectural movement that set out to transform everything. It was so radical. You had buildings with almost no windows, entire districts moved onto a different level. And the thing about brutalism is that the designs immediately raise questions as to the building’s purpose. I’m not even sure if the central bank in Baghdad strictly qualifies as brutalism but this photo is shocking. Not just for the US troops guarding it and the damage visible on the bank itself (it was looted by Saddam Hussein’s sons) but for the sense of power emanating from the building.”

US troops guard the Central Bank of Iraq. The building was looted during the war. USAIDS is providing a "ministry in a box" which includes desks, chairs, telephones and computers to help get the misintry get back to business.

This photo of the recently opened Qatar Foundation in Doha, designed by OMA is striking in a different way. From the inside it has this fantastic panoramic view of the city framed between the concrete. It seems remote from the ground below.

qatar-foundation-headquarters-oma-architecture-offices-credit-jazzy-news_dezeen_2364_col_12_Dezeen

People

Umbrellas, skirts, cardigans and patterns. Artist Nick has been looking to the past for inspiration on future clothes. After all things often come back into fashion.

FLASHBACK HDM ARCHIVE LIBRARY IMAGES weekly daily Images of Freetown Way in Hull. Dated 22nd August 1986 - pedestrians and motorists alike get used to Hull's newest road. keywords - roads traffic access 1980's car cars wet weather rain umbrella umbrellas rainy pouring generic brolly brollie

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_bd1d

Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting more snippets of inspiration that have influenced the film scripts form Aarhus, Hull and beyond.


THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please e-mail hello@wemadeourselvesover.com with a link to the image and it will be promptly removed.

Welcome To The Future

Welcome To The Future

Breathing in, you might think that the air is the same but it’s not. The tide covers the eaves of the Old Town. Lights twinkle on the moon.

This city is on the cusp of a new century. Over the past 80 years, its map has been redrawn: the tidal arrays have been grown out to sea, the myriad canals and marine farms now encircle the city centre.

We grew. The city moved. The long grass was cut back and the housing estates from the last century hummed with voices; their windows blinked with industry.

But that was a while ago.  It is now 2097. That hum of traffic outside the window is just a recording.  Now the streets are quiet and the houses stand empty once more. After nearly a century of growth and industry, the ground has fallen away and you’re floating above the city.

Now it’s up to you to decide on where we go next.

Here we are at the start of 2017, having spent the last three months gathering thoughts, drawings and ideas about the future from people across Hull and Aarhus: from scientists to school children.

Way back at the millennium, all those numbers on the clock ticked over together and we entered an age that was once the realm of science fiction. Today, prime ministers and presidents seem to be at the mercy of events. Tax seems optional for some and it is uncertain who is in control and how we work together for good.

2097: We Made Ourselves Over springs from a desire to explore our capacity for self-determination and resilience in this context. It continues our concern with the social impact and opportunities of rapidly changing technology on our everyday lives. It is a science fiction project that takes the city on a journey into an imagined time at the close of this century and asks questions about the respective roles of technology, utopia and our own imaginations in setting a course for the future.

We want to invite people to think in new ways about the lives we lead and where we want our communities to go. Incorporating contributions and voices from both Aarhus and Hull, we will create a diverse set of eye-level perspectives on the future, set against a common fate in a single imaginary city. We will frame the present within a longer historical cycle of economic decay and renewal; postulating a lifetime of changes that will transform the city in the coming century, reflecting on loss, and our sense of history and purpose in the face of the unknown.

Over the coming year, we hope to raise some difficult questions about the challenges we face and, with your help, uncover some exciting and unexpected answers.

We’d love you to join us on our ride into the future.

Sign up for updates to stay in touch