Visitors will put poetry in motion as UK celebrates ties with Arab world at Expo 2020

People will be asked to submit a word which will be turned into poetry via artificial intelligence

UK pavilion front view. Expo 2020
Powered by automated translation

Organisers hope visitors won't be lost for words when they explore the United Kingdom's creative contribution to Expo 2020 Dubai.

A healthy vocabulary will be positively encouraged for those who step inside the stunning £20 million pavilion, designed in the shape of a splintered cone, which looks set to be a major attraction during next year's hotly-anticipated world fair.

Each visitor will be asked to donate a word, which will be transformed into poetry celebrating the friendship between the UK and the Arab world by way of artificial technology.

Laura Faulkner, UK commissioner for Expo 2020, has revealed details about the poetry to be framed inside the British pavilion, on which preparatory work has begun at the Dubai South site.

"It is exciting to us that the rhythms of English and Arabic poetry will be represented in the work we are doing," Ms Faulkner told The National.

“Arabic and English are at the heart of everything we are doing because this is the first time the Expo is being hosted in the Arab world.

“Every word that is donated by visitors to the pavilion will be placed into an algorithm that will allow us to imagine new poetry.”

While walking through a maze, visitors will encounter augmented reality content that will reflect stories about British tourism, business and education.

Once they step into a wooden enclosure located on the upper end of the pavilion, they will hear a chorus of voices, songs and music from around the world including the words in English and Arabic they have submitted.

Organisers visualise entering the timber-lined interior space as similar to walking into the chamber of a wooden musical instrument.

The words of each visitor reflecting their feelings and expressions will be strung together using artificial intelligence to create a collective lyric to be broadcast on small LED screens across an enormous 20metre high façade.

The collaborative poem will be lit up and scroll across the protruding slats of the cone’s façade to be seen by visitors in the Expo exhibition area.

Created by UK designer Es Devlin, the concept draws from physicist Stephen Hawking's final project in 2015 called the Breakthrough Message, a global competition that invited people to create a digital message about our planet to communicate with an advanced civilization.

Famous for setting up large sculptures, the designer has said she aimed to fuse architecture, science, poetry and music.

The UK has a legacy of presenting award-winning Expo designs from the first World Exposition it hosted in 1851.

“It is important for us to show artificial intelligence as a central theme under the UK’s main theme on uniting for a shared future,” Ms Faulkner said.

“It is only when you leave the pavilion that you see the finished product on the façade of the cone.”

Britain plans to accelerate its communication of the pavilion’s offerings over the next few months.

Ms Faulkner has high hopes for the six-month event that starts in October and will involve more than 190 nations.

“There is an energy about this Expo,” said Ms Faulkner, who was involved with the London Olympics and previous expos in Milan and Shanghai.

“It is about connecting minds for conversation and collaboration. It is through those conversations and partnerships that future innovations will be created.

“The Expo and the Olympics are arguably the two largest events on Earth. It is very clear to us that with this expo the world will be in one place.”