The UK’s contribution at Expo 2020 Dubai is a wood sculptural structure. It celebrates cultural diversity, collaboration, and highlights Britain as a place where cultures can come together. The Poem Pavilion was designed by Es Devlin and uses machine learning algorithms to convert visitors’ input into collective poems. These can be seen in illuminated displays that transform the pavilion into an exhibit.
Visitors are invited to contribute a word at the Poem Pavilion’s “mouthpiece” when they enter the central space. This showcases contributions in English or Arabic and is accompanied by a choral soundscape. The algorithm compiles all the words donated into text, creating a collective poem every minute. The machine learning model was trained initially on internet texts. It was then adapted to the project by using a variety of more than five thousand poems, carefully curated and curated by a team comprising poetry curators.
Famous for large-scale installations that combine music, language, and light, Es Devlin, an artist and designer, first explored machine-generated poetry in 2016. This was in response to the idea, which was to propose a social sculpture.
“Algorithms exist among us, they are an increasing part of our culture. Their output is based upon what they are trained on, and who they train them on.” – Es Devlin. “The pavilion is both an expression of the ideal culturally diverse Britain I grew up in, and tempered by our growing awareness of how algorithms shape the future of our culture.” – Es Devlin.
The UK pavilion is located in the “Opportunity” district. It was designed by structural engineers Atelier One and environmental design consultants Atelier Ten. Executive architects Veretec, Avantgarde, and Veretec were involved in its development. Cross-laminated timber is used to construct the structure. The wood was sourced from sustainable Italian and Austrian forests. The pavilion’s creation demonstrates multiculturalism. It features LED elements that were designed and manufactured in China, and an algorithm developed in California.