Artist Michael Pinksy Transforms Hull Tidal Surge Barrier

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Artist Michael Pinksy Transforms Hull Tidal Surge Barrier

Artist Michael Pinksy Transforms Hull Tidal Surge Barrier

‘The City Speaks’ Artwork Aims to Give New Voice to Hull People

In a major new commission for Hull UK City of Culture 2017, the artist Michael Pinsky is transforming Hull’s tidal surge barrier in ‘The City Speaks’. It is an interactive artwork that contributes to the year-long project, ‘Look Up’, challenging and changing the way people see and experience the public spaces of the city.

‘The City Speaks’ functions as a 21st century Speakers’ Corner. Here, open-air public speaking takes on epic proportions as spoken words are translated to text and relayed on the west tower supporting Hull’s Tidal Surge Barrier.

A steel lectern located on the quayside of Humber Dock provides a platform for members of the public to broadcast their thoughts and feelings. A microphone captures their words and sends them to a data processing cloud which transcribes these words into a scrolling dot-matrix text ascending the Tidal Barrier. The plinth and the Tidal Barrier perfectly align at each end of Humber Street, allowing the speaker to see their own speech being displayed across Hull, embodied into one of the city’s architectural icons.

Artist Michael Pinksy Transforms Hull Tidal Surge Barrier pagePrinciples of resistance and protection lie at the core of ‘The City Speaks’

Michael Pinsky’s UK and international projects have created innovative and challenging works in galleries and public spaces. Pinsky says: “Hull’s Tidal Surge Barrier, the site for this work, plays a significant role in protecting the city from flooding. It has become a gateway guarding the future of Hull. It is not unlike Beverley Gate where, in 1642, Sir John Hotham refused Charles I entry to the city. This act of defiance in the defence of freedom is widely acknowledged as the spark that ignited the English Civil War.

“These principles of resistance and protection lie at the core of ‘The City Speaks’. This installation gives a new voice to the people of Hull and in doing so celebrates resilience and freedom.”

Pinsky’s work follows Nayan Kulkarni’s ‘Blade’, currently to be seen in Queen Victoria Square. It is the second in the series of major art commissions which will be appearing in public spaces around Hull over the next year as part of the Look Up programme.

Questions about the nature of dialogue, debate and conversation

Martin Green, CEO and Director Hull 2017, says: “Michael Pinsky’s ‘The City Speaks’ celebrates public speaking and the voice of the people on an epic scale. He has created an extraordinary visual statement on one of Hull’s most prominent landmarks. In getting the public to interact with it and make statements on it, Pinsky’s work asks questions about the nature of dialogue, debate and conversation, particularly in public spaces. It gives a Hull 2017 twist to the idea of the Speaker’s Corner.”

The City Speaks continues until 31 December 2017. More major commissions will be unveiled at locations around the city throughout Hull’s City of Culture year as part of the Look Up programme.

images © Thomas Arran

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