Blog : Science Fiction

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.

 

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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

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

 

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

 

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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.

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.