Expo 2020 Dubai: UK pavilion unveils interactive, AI-powered poetry installation

Dubai - The installation will explore whether a computer programme can express the complex nature of humanity through verse

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 29 Sep 2021, 8:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Sep 2021, 10:42 AM

‘Dignity’ was the first word that was whispered into the UK pavilion’s interactive poetry installation.

The pavilion, which is designed to display a series of AI-generated poems, invites visitors to donate a word they feel describes humanity or life on earth. Advanced AI technology will then use these words to generate individual poetic couplets that will be projected on the pavilion’s stunning cone-shaped structure.

Inspired by Stephen Hawking, the aim of the concept is to create a ‘Collective Message’ during the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Tying in with the pavilion’s theme, ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’, the installation will explore whether a computer programme can express the complex nature of humanity through verse. The continuous flow of poetry will be a part of the UK pavilion’s legacy.

Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai, donated the first word to the UK pavilion.

“The UK’s Collective Message is a powerful message that speaks for all of humankind, and it was a great privilege to provide the very first word," she said.

"This AI-powered creative journey will serve as a unifying force over the 182 days of Expo and beyond, and I eagerly await to see how millions of visitors to our Expo, from every corner of the planet, will enjoy this and the plethora of experiences the UK pavilion will offer."

The algorithm used to create the AI-generated couplets was based on 15,000 poems written by more than 100 British poets. The words are displayed in English and Arabic using LED lights.

With the pavilion, the UK has also made another stride. This is the first time the country has chosen a woman — British designer Es Devlin — to design its pavilion at the Expo since its inception in 1851.

Devlin conceptualised the pavilion to showcase the growing importance of algorithms and Britain’s diversity.

Laura Faulkner OBE, UK commissioner-general of the Expo 2020 Dubai, said it was a pleasure to have Al Hashimy donate the first word to the collective message.

"Her choice of word sums up the great relationship the UK and the UAE continue to enjoy and will inspire thousands of people to visit and join us, too," she said. "I can’t wait to see the amazing variety of words visitors will share with us to create this unique message from humanity."

A remarkable line-up of experiences

The UK pavilion has a lot in store for visitors, including an atmospheric and immersive audio experience called Choral Space.

The pavilion also features an 1851 restaurant and bar, named after the world’s first Expo, which was held in the UK in 1851. The restaurant, along with the pavilion, will showcase the best of British food and drinks.


>> Expo 2020 Dubai: Pitch for a global Britain

Throughout the Expo 2020 Dubai, the UK pavilion will host inspiring talks by some of the world’s most creative and innovative thinkers, interactive experiences and world-class artistic performances.


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