A scale model of the solar system, a decommissioned North Sea oil rig and a pop-up forest will be part of a major UK art event slated for 2022.
Unboxed: Creativity in the UK will run from March to October and will include 10 separate projects that draw on science, technology, engineering and math.
TV historian David Olusoga and composer Nitin Sawhney are among the people involved.
Chief organizer Martin Green said it will create “once-in-a-lifetime events and online experiences for millions of people.”
“Unboxed represents an unprecedented and timely opportunity for people to come together across the UK and beyond,” he continued.
He said the event – described as “the UK’s largest and most ambitious public creative program to date” – will generate “majestic projects that talk about who we are and explore the ideas that will define our future”.
The project was dubbed Festival of Brexit when it was first announced in 2018 and operated under the working title Festival UK 2022.
Here is a brief description of the 10 projects that make up the program, which will run from March 1st to October 2nd next year.
Who we are
A combination of live performances and multimedia installations, About Us will take the audience “on a journey through 13.8 billion years of our history from the Big Bang to the present day”.
Buildings and landmarks in five towns and cities – Paisley, Derry-Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull – will be transformed “into a vast canvas with bespoke animations. [and] projection mapping technology “.
Local choirs will perform a new score by composer Nitin Sawhney, while an outdoor installation will incorporate contributions from a poetry and computer programming competition for children and young people across the UK.
About Us will take place for a week in each location, with multimedia installations open all day and multiple free shows every night.
Described as a “harvest festival reimagining for the 21st century”, Dandelion is a “food, music and ideas” program taking place across Scotland.
The event will incorporate a series of miniature vertical farms – dubbed “cubes of perpetual light” – that will be used to promote products that grow in local communities.
Two major music and food festivals in Glasgow and Inverness will be held as part of an event starting in April and following the growing season.
Angus Farquhar, creative director of Dandelion, said it will aim to “restore the harvest as a meaningful annual festival for all”.
Described as a work of art to be seen with your eyes closed, Dreamachine is an “immersive live experience” that will visit Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
It is based on a 1959 invention by the British artist Brion Gysin that used flickering light to produce visual stimuli in the viewer’s mind.
According to director Jennifer Crook, “the rich kaleidoscopic images created by the Dreamachine will come from within, providing a magical insight into the extraordinary potential of our minds.”
Electronic musician Jon Hopkins, whose albums Diamond Mine and Immunity were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011 and 2013 respectively, will provide the music for the “interdisciplinary collaboration”.
Galwad: a story from our future
Set in the year 2052, Galwad – ‘call’ in Welsh – will envision the Wales of the future through a mix of live performances and a television drama to be broadcast on an unspecified channel.
Live events for what is described as “a new kind of cross-platform story” will take place in Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Alex McDowell, the Bafta-nominated production designer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Man of Steel, will co-design the project’s futuristic landscape.
According to creative director Claire Doherty, Galwad will invite the audience “to explore moral dilemmas and the possibilities of a different kind of future”.
Dark skies of green space
In 1932, hundreds of protesting hikers went to private land in Kinder Scout in Derbyshire to assert their right to roam.
Ninety years after this mass encroachment, which led to the establishment of access rights to the countryside, a national event will see 20,000 people take part in another collective intervention.
According to organizers, it will see national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty illuminated by “dramatic chains of light” that “sweep down the mountains and across valleys”.
Geo-positioning light technology will help attendees, otherwise known as “Lumenators,” create moving images across the landscape that will be filmed and shared online.
Our place in space
If you’ve ever wanted to put the distance between the Sun and Pluto into perspective, a 10km sculpture trail in Northern Ireland and Cambridge will give you what you want.
Sculptures representing the planets of the solar system dot a trail that will take hikers from Derry-Londonderry via Divis and Belfast to Northern Ireland’s North Down Coastal Path.
The route, designed by children’s artist and author Oliver Jeffers with the help of astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt, can also be experienced at a riverside location in Cambridge.
Jeffers describes the journey as “a playful experiment” that will include the music of Irish composer and sound artist Die Hexen.
Birmingham city center will host a ‘pop-up’ forest garden as part of this tree project, which is also part of the city’s Commonwealth Games celebrations.
A single large tree in Edinburgh will also contribute to a project that celebrates “the global origins of the UK’s plants and population”.
According to the organizers, PoliNations will celebrate multiculturalism “through the metaphor of the incredible biodiversity of our plant life”.
Installations, live music, lectures and performances will also be included in a project led by Bristol-based art organization Trigger.
A disused offshore North Sea platform will be transformed into a public art installation in the coastal city of Weston-super-Mare.
The former lido of the country, the Tropicana, will host the structure, which will have planted gardens and meeting places as part of its redevelopment.
Art director Patrick O’Mahony said the project will serve as “a stepping stone to explore the concept of inherited structures and to question what we do with them.”
Tropicana closed as a lido in 2000 and later hosted Dismaland, an art exhibition curated by graffiti artist Banksy, in 2015.
Fifteen locations across the UK, two of them in London, will host “virtual portals” in a project involving stories of historical change.
Its creators will work with communities in each of the locations to uncover “unknown, surprising and intriguing” stories drawn from local history.
Broadcaster David Olusoga will work alongside the British Film Institute, the National Film and Television School and other organizations on the “immersive” experience.
The result, according to the organizers, will be “one of the most ambitious living history and archival projects ever undertaken”.
Tour de Moon
Perhaps the most difficult project to summarize is Tour de Moon, a series of festivals, satellite events and “night experiences” inspired, yes, by the Moon.
What we do know is that it will contain a new work on a lunar theme that will be commissioned by writers, musicians and artists between the ages of 18 and 25.
According to the organizers, the project will seek to “ignite the imagination in playful, critical and intriguing ways … through unexpected collaborations”.
Among his ambitions are the formation of “a traveling convoy” and the development of “a new alien musical genre” through music that bounces on the moon.
“When we started this journey we had two goals: to celebrate creativity and to bring people together,” Green said in an online briefing on Wednesday.
“Unboxed explores the importance of creativity in generating new ideas and opportunities that shape the way we work, live and play.
“We also hope that people across the UK and beyond have fun, because we also want it to be fun.”
Green said the event was called Unboxed because it involved “the freedom of creativity”, something he said was “at the heart of everyday life and our future”.
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The 10 projects were selected from ideas generated by 30 creative teams that received research and development funding last year to develop their proposals.
Unboxed is funded and supported by the four UK governments and will be delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland.
Dame Vikki Heywood, chairman of the board of Unboxed, said the “inspirational” program “will support economic recovery in the UK by reviving towns and cities.”
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