The statement first appeared on the UK Pavilion’s front at Expo 2020 in Dubai in early December. It was made from a single word picked by a pavilion visitor and sent to an AI that had previously been educated with millions of lines of poetry. The outcome is part of “Collective Message,” a continuous stream of couplets, or pairs of consecutive lines of verse, exhibited in English and Arabic.
The lyrics are projected onto wood slats arranged in a circle at one end of the cone-shaped pavilion, which was created by Es Devlin, a British artist whose past work includes stage designs for Beyonce and Adele, as well as the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony. She is the first woman to design a pavilion for the United Kingdom since Expo began in 1851.
Visitors to the pavilion are also encouraged to take part in Collective Message, which sends a message to the universe and acknowledges the importance of algorithms in our lives. “We didn’t want it to be just like a museum with lots of different displays; we wanted it to be something that people could actively participate with,” explains Stuart Bradbury of creative firm Avantgarde, which oversaw the Collective Message project’s creation.
“The algorithm was developed expressly for this project, in collaboration with a number of AI professionals and in close collaboration with a number of societies,” he says. The Poetry Archive, The Poetry Society, and the Scottish Poetry Library were among those that worked with engineers for six months to train and perfect the AI’s output. “Over 15,000 poems from 100 different British poets have been fed to it, totaling over a million lines of poetry. During the training time, it improved steadily, and we believe we’ve developed something truly unique “According to Bradbury.