Jason Bruges Studio unveils striking robotic light installation for Hull UK City of Culture 2017

  • Where Do We Go From Here? runs daily 5pm-9pm from 1 December until 7 January 2018
  • The installation is in place across four sites in Hull’s Old Town: Beverley Gate, Trinity Square, Museum Gardens and Wilberforce House in High Street
  • Jason Bruges will be holding an artist talk at Middleton Hall, University of Hull, at 7pm on 4 December. Tickets are free

Jason Bruges Studio’s latest kinetic installation opens in Hull today (Friday 1 December). Where Do We Go From Here? is the last major art commission of the year for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

This striking multi-site installation in Hull’s Old Town features specially designed structures, some reaching more than 6m high. Plinths carry over 20 large re-purposed industrial robot arms fitted with light sources, mirrors, prisms and directional speakers.

With the night-time sky and the city’s architecture as a backdrop, the robots rise, swoop, curl, spin and reach out, accompanied by specially commissioned soundscapes, producing a new choreography of movement, light and sound. As they throw, reflect and exchange light, the viewer may detect personalities amongst the machines.

Where Do We Go From Here? takes the viewer to four different locations, illuminating the familiar, but also overlooked corners of Hull’s night-time streets, creating a new urban journey of discovery.

Bruges explains: “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.”

Through the interaction between light, architecture and the viewer, Where Do We Go From Here? harks back to Hull’s heritage as a leading centre for navigation in Europe, guiding people through the city’s night-time streets, and encouraging them to rediscover their urban environment. Bruges continues: “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 their city and its future, about society, art, culture and technology. There are opportunities to join in around Hull’s Old Town, as well as online, whilst local artists have been invited to produce creative responses to the work and to Hull’s City of Culture year.

Martin Green, Director of Hull UK City of Culture 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 as we look ahead to the future, asks a key question for our times, one we hope will get people thinking.”

Where Do We Go from Here? is supported by Arts Council England and Spirit of 2012.

Where Do We Go from Here? helps kick off Substance, a series of events, installations and provocations taking place in the first week of December celebrating and reflecting on Hull and the North as a cultural powerhouse for the nation. More details about Substance will be announced shortly.


Where Do We Go From Here? – LOCATIONS

1/ Beverley Gate

The Gatekeepers
Marking Beverley Gate, the historic entrance to the city, now Hull’s Old Town, the six gatekeeper robots have been designed to draw in visitors with light signals close to the waters of Princes Quay and visible from Queen Victoria Square and Whitefriargate. This installation was designed specifically for this location, because of its historical significance.

Taking inspiration from navigation beacons and maritime signalling devices, the robots are a modern interpretation of them, which communicate and act as an entrance to the other installations around the Old Town.

2/ Trinity Square

An Inquisitive Acquaintance 
Trinity Square has historically been an important public space in Hull’s Old Town and has recently been extensively redeveloped, enhancing it as a key destination in the heart of the city. The nine robots here present a choreographed performance composed of light and sound, which is focused at the audience.

It is a playful encounter that encourages the viewer to explore the relationship between the light and sound, the square’s reflecting pools and the architecture around it. You are encouraged to pass between the plinths and ponder the question: Where do we go from here?

3/ Museum Gardens at Streetlife Museum

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 space. This piece is fast and dynamic and is best viewed from a distance.

4/ Wilberforce House

Hidden behind the walls of the enclosed garden at the entrance to Wilberforce House, a curious conversation between a robot and Wilberforce plays out. Peeking through the gate, or catching glimpses of the robot revealing itself above the wall, the audience can observe the gestural animation that is created through light and shadow. At a site of historical significance, to Hull and the nation, this reflective piece asks the question: Where do we go from here?


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