Tribute to Alan Turing unveiled in Paddington
Mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing (1912-1954) was one the most important figures in the 20th century. He played a pivotal role breaking the Nazi enigma code at Bletchley Park during World War II, which is widely believed shortened the war by several years.
To celebrate his outstanding contribution to the country and computer science, a new artistic tribute has been unveiled in Paddington, where Turing was born. Entitled ‘Message from the Unseen World’, the piece spans the width of Bishop’s Bridge Road at Paddington Central.
The installation features aluminium panels featuring holes and LEDs displaying extracts of Turing’s book Computing Machinery and Intelligence and verses by East London poet Nick Drake, imagining Turing speaking about his life from a posthumous view. The piece is presented by British Land, was curated by Futurecity and devised by United Visual Artists.
Matt Clark from United Visual Artists said: ‘The artwork itself is a continuously evolving machine; an “engine” that uses basic principles of artificial intelligence to endlessly interpret Drake’s work. The result is a literal in memoriam for Turing, a dynamic artwork that reminds us of the complementary relationship between people and technology, how it has changed from the 20th to early 21st Century, and how this relationship will continue to develop.’
Nick Drake said: ‘To take poetry and make it a collaborative project has been hugely exciting. We are not simply presenting the poem, rather we are exploring the idea of a machine thinking poetically – or perhaps more accurately – appearing to write like a poet while thinking like a machine, which goes to the very heart of Turing’s explorations on artificial intelligence. I hope the piece makes people more aware of Turing’s remarkable life and ground-breaking work.’
- ‘Message from the Unseen World’ is near the canalside entrance to Paddington Underground Station under Bishops Bridge Road, at the entrance to the Paddington Central campus, W2. Nearest station: Paddington.