A stunning installation by Jason Bruges Studio will open in Hull’s Old Town today, marking the last major art commission of the year for Hull 2017. Where Do We Go From Here? is a striking multi-site piece boasting over 20 re-purposed industrial robot arms atop specially designed structures, some reaching more than six metres in height.
Featuring light sources, mirrors, prisms and directional speakers, the robots rise, swoop, curl, spin and reach out, accompanied by specially commissioned soundscapes. As they throw, reflect and exchange light, audiences may even detect personalities amongst the machines.
With the night-time sky and the city’s architecture as a backdrop, Where Do We Go From Here? takes audiences to four different locations, illuminating the familiar, but also overlooked corners of Hull’s night-time streets and creating a new urban journey of discovery.
The four pieces and locations are:
BEVERLEY GATE – THE GATEKEEPERS
Marking what was once the entrance to Hull, the six gatekeeper robots have been designed to draw in visitors with light signals close to the waters of Princes Quay.
Visible from Queen Victoria Square and Whitefriargate, the installation was designed in response to this important historical site, taking inspiration from navigation beacons and maritime signalling devices. This modern interpretation sees the gatekeepers communicating and welcoming visitors to the excitement that awaits at the three remaining Old Town installations.
TRINITY SQUARE – AN INQUISITIVE ACQUAINTANCE
As an important social space in the heart of Hull’s Old Town, Trinity Square plays host to nine robots presenting a choreographed performance composed of light and sound which puts the audience at the centre of the show.
This playful encounter encourages viewers to explore the relationship between the square’s reflecting pools, surrounding architecture and the light and sound filling the space. Visitors are encouraged to wander amongst the plinths and ponder the question – where do we go from here?
MUSEUM GARDENS – COLLABORATION
In the garden setting of the Streetlife Museum, five robots awaken from their old factory mode to perform together and demonstrate intelligence through collaboration. The robots will pass light beams between each other and form large moving objects in the space. This piece is fast and dynamic and should be viewed from a distance for the full wow-factor.
WILBERFORCE HOUSE – CONVERSATION
Hidden behind the walls of the enclosed garden at Wilberforce House, a curious conversation between a robot and William Wilberforce plays out. Peeking through the gate, or catching glimpses of the robot revealing itself above the wall, visitors can observe animated gestures created through light and shadow.
As a site of national historical significance, what better place to ask the question – where do we go from here?
Speaking about this ground-breaking installation, Jason Bruges said: “I’m interested in how art and technology combine to generate spectacle, entertainment and equally stimulate learning and new ideas.
“Digital interventions can invigorate our public spaces and shape how we behave within them. I wanted this installation to reflect both Hull’s past, as well as the transformation it is undergoing to become a leading centre for both culture and, through green energy, technological innovation.
“Art has an important role to play as a cultural catalyst and agent of change. In a world that is increasingly digital and where the role of robotics is more prominent in our daily lives, I’m interested in exploring the ways in which we can use this technology to enhance our public spaces.
“The robots act as ‘beacons’, giving people a way to navigate through the streets. It’s very much like walking round an urban art gallery; you can walk through in any order, you can take as long as you like, stay as long as you like, come on different days.”
With Where Do We Go From Here?, Hull 2017 wants to start a conversation about the future of the city and more widely about society, art, culture and technology. There are plenty of opportunities to share your thoughts at various locations in Hull’s Old Town as well as online using #WhereDoWeGo.
Local artists have also been invited to produce creative responses to the world and to Hull’s City of Culture year.
Martin Green, director of Hull 2017, comments: “A key element of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture has been the use of technology, to tell stories and to show the city in new ways.
“In Where Do We Go From Here?, Jason Bruges has produced a striking artwork across four locations in the historic heart of the Old Town. Each has its own atmosphere, sometimes playful, sometimes ethereal, sometimes contemplative. As we approach the end of this incredible year, it takes us into 2018 and helps us to look ahead to the future, asking a key question for our time that we hope will get people thinking.”
Where Do We Go From Here? by Jason Bruges Studio runs in Hull’s Old Town from 1 Dec 2017 to 7 Jan 2018 excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day.