Hull "Urban Legends:Northern Lights" was awesome


I’ve got very fond memories of Hull’s City of Culture year. We had streets full of people on chilly nights looking at amazing artwork and feeling a real pride in the place. Tonight we had all that again with the “Urban Legends:Northern Lights” event. In fact I reckon the quality of the artwork an story telling exceeded that of last year. Perhaps they’ve learned a few tricks since last time.

We headed up town for the last night of the shows. The weather was kind to us and the artwork was spread around the town. For me the two highlights were the projected display outside Hull Minster, which you can see a part of above, and the story told on the side of buildings around the Rose Bowl in the middle of town. The story had the benefit of a choir singing live, which was super awesome.

The whole of Hull city centre was absolutely packed with families enjoying the spectacle. Kudos to “Absolutely Culture”, who have taken flame of culture in the city and run with it in a stunning way. If you didn’t mange to make it, then you missed out. If you did, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.


"The Culture" is really good

You've got to be pretty sure of yourself to allow someone to write a farce about what you're doing. Or brave. Or something. But the Hull City of Culture team did it. "The Culture" is a behind the scenes look at just what goes on in the offices behind those fancy slogans and artistic happenings. There are some lovely nods to the buzzwords and whatnot that come with organising something like Hull City of Culture, but all credit to the team for letting it all happen. And hats off to Martin Green, the head honcho of City of Culture, who actually turned up to take part in the performance that we saw. 

 "The Culture" is a proper farce. Double meanings, mistaken identity, hiding in cupboards, bawdy bits, the lot. It also has a genuine, beating heart at the centre. The cast do a great job of bringing the play to life. Their energy never flagged from start to end. And it wasn't until right at the end, when I wondered where some of the actors had got to for the curtain call, that I worked out just how many roles each cast member played. 

I'm not sure if you'll be able to get tickets to see it before it finishes its run, but if you can, I think you'll have a really good time.

Floe and Dancing Robots in Hull


Saturday night found us in Hull, drinking hot chocolate at Nibble  prior to taking in some culture. First up was a look at Floe. Laser projected artwork on the side of The Deep. We saw some of this earlier in the year at the Made in Hull event. But this was even more awesomer. The laser projection system provided really rich and sharp colours, and the whole thing was amazing. 


Then we went down to the Hull Minster courtyard to take a look at an art installation made from a bunch of industrial robots. This was awesome. The robots move with a special kind of grace. Each is fitted with a tracking spotlight and a speaker and as they move the sound and lights shift around the space, sometimes illuminating the buildings and at other times drawing spotlights on the ground. 


Fantastic. I'm really going to miss these events. 

Rob at Substance


One of the rules that I live by is "if you're going to make a fool of yourself, it's best to do it wearing a sharp suit and a pair of illuminated goggles". Actually it's a rule that I've just made up for today. But it definitely fits the bill. 

I was part of a presentation from 2042 that c4di put on as part of the Substance element of the Hull City of Culture celebrations. I figured that, since 25 years ago people were still wearing suits, they'll probably still be wearing them in 25 years time. And the goggles? Well, let's just say I had a pair of neopixel rings free and an Arduino Pro-mini lying around. And this article from Adafruit to follow.

The brief was to deliver a technical session from the future. We were allowed to make things up (this seemed the easiest way to do it). I made up an operating system, called HULLOS, that runs on the entire city of Hull. I had four minutes to fill, so I went through four versions of the operating system in the years that lead up to 2042.

There was the Base Version, the VR version, the Freedom version and finally the Sentient Version. I provided an appropriate amount of hyperbole, with newly liberated artificially intelligent robot refuse collectors discovering a shared passion for "Strictly Cart Dancing" and an air of arrogant omniscience, "If you're the smartest person in the room it means that I've not arrived yet", which is quite unlike me. I even took a 360 degree picture from the stage in the middle. 

Talking Hullos at Substance. @c4di - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Such fun. Special thanks to David and Dileepa for creating a narrative around the wonderful contributions from all the other presentations. 

Man of Substance

I've actually got a tiny part in the City of Culture celebrations. Four minutes to be precise. It's as part of the Substance Future Forum, a whole bunch of events over the next few days. 

 I'm one of the speakers in "HULLOS V2042GM – YOUR CITY EVOLVED, CONNECTED, ACCELERATED AND ACCEPTED – 1 @ THE DOCK, 3.15PM – 4PM on Thursday 7th December" We've got a whole bunch of ideas about where this city is headed, and we're going to tell you all about them. 

I'll be speaking from the year 2042, so you might have to listen carefully. This session is just one of a whole bunch of events on Thursday. . You can sign up here for the whole day. And you get a free breakfast too. 

Robots in Hull


There are robots in Hull. Not science fiction ones, hard core car assembling, job doing, working robots. I've got a history with robots. When I worked in Electronic Engineering (it seems ages ago) we had a few proper robots around the place. I even found myself counting the number of degrees of freedom the robots in the city centre have (this is the number of ways they can rotate - the more the better) but, having thought about it, having robots with  lots of degrees of freedom makes sense in Hull.


They are being used as part of an art installation with lights, sound and coordination. It will be on this month as part of the City of Culture celebrations. I really must see them in action.  

One Day Maybe

One day maybe.PNG

One Day Maybe is incredible. Very hard to describe, but I'm jolly glad I went. It is part tech demo, part history and part interpretive dance (in a good way). The performers (and there are lots of them) work very hard to build a piece of art that muses on the sacrifices made to build a better future, and whether or not that future really merits them. It leaves you thinking about the bravery of people prepared to stand up against oppression, the way that the oppressors frequently get away with their crimes and the darker aspects of the future we are all hurtling towards. 

Great stuff.

Chair balancing for beginners


One of the other neat things they have at States of Play is a bunch of balancing chairs. When I first saw them I had thoughts of steel pegs in the floor, or strings from the roof. 

Not so. The chairs really do balance like this. They have weights and a flat part to balance on. I had a go at balancing and it really is quite tricky. Which is code for "No, I couldn't do it..."

Hull "Cheese Grater"


They're installing a new piece of artwork in Queen's Gardens. It's an intriguing structure of laser-cut steel, welded together and painted white. It looks really good and it casts really nice shadows. I'm not sure of the proper name for it, but us locals have started calling it the "Cheese Grater". I took some pictures of it today, Rather nice.


I just hope they can stop birds from building nests in it. Then again, that might be part of the art. 

Hull Architecture

I must admit that I've never really thought of a place like Hull as having architecture. It's just got lots of nice buildings.

However, I've found out a lot more about the area from this book, which even told me who designed the place I'd spent nearly 40 years of my life working in at the university.

This version was published in 2010, which means that it was just in time to be able to give the low down on places like The Deep.

It's a great reference and even has guided walks around the city. If you're coming to Hull for something City of Culture related, and you want a well written, well researched and good to read guide to where we live then it is well worth a look. 

"The Blade" in Hull

I would love to have been at the meeting where someone said "Lets get an enormous wind turbine blade and install it in the middle of Hull". Cue raised eyebrows.

But someone must also have said "Why not?"

And it's awesome. I went up town today to see it being lowered carefully into place. This thing is properly big. At one end they are driving double decker busses underneat it. It's part of the Hull UK City of Culture celebrations and you've got until March this year to come and take a look.

I wonder what they'll replace it with.