Es Devlin creates machine-learning lion that roars poetry at Trafalgar Square

Google is supporting a machine-learning fluorescent red lion installation created by stage designer Es Devlin in a project for the 2018 London Design Festival.

"Please feed the lions" at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square will roar poetry made up of words chosen by the public. During daylight the evolving poem will be shown on LED in the mouth of the lion, and at night this will be projection-mapped over the lion and onto Nelson’s Column.

Devlin, who has designed stages for Beyoncé, Stormzy and Kanye West, said: "The British design guru Sir John Sorrell nudged me as we walked through Trafalgar Square this time last year. He said: ‘Landseer never wanted those lions to look so passive: he proposed a much more animated stance, but Queen Victoria found it too shocking.’

"The thought lodged in my mind. What if we could invest the lion with a diversely crowd-sourced collective poetic voice?"

Google will create an online exhibition of the year-long installation through its Arts & Culture platform. Its program manager Freya Murray said: "We’re delighted to be able to support Es’s exploration of machine learning in her work and be part of her public artwork for London Design Festival.

"Machine learning is helping to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face today, from healthcare to environmental conservation. This technology can also provide artists with a new set of tools. It’s exciting to see Es Devlin collaborating with machine learning to realise her vision for her first large-scale sculptural work."

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