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London Design Festival has today launched a new Landmark Project: Please Feed The Lions. Located in Trafalgar Square, Please Feed The Lions is a new interactive sculpture by award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin. Devlin is known for her innovative projection-mapped sculptures that fuse light, music and technology. Taking the London square by storm, the project incorporates machine learning, explores the parameters of design and AI, and follows a year-long collaboration with Google Arts & Culture which will also create an online exhibition so people all over the world can view and experience this ground-breaking sculpture. The project is supported by digital commissioning body The Space as part of its work to ensure the broadest access to the arts through digital technologies.

Cast in 1867, the four monumental lions in Trafalgar Square have been sitting as silent British icons at the base of Nelson’s Column for the past 150 years. Last night, a fifth fluorescent red lion joined the pride, facing northwards towards the National Gallery.

The new lion is not silent: it ROARS.
This lion roars poetry: and the words it roars will be up to the public to choose. Everyone is invited to ‘feed the lion’: and this lion only eats words.

By daylight, the ever-evolving collective poem will be shown on LED embedded in the mouth of the new lion. By night, the poem will be projection-mapped over the lion and onto Nelson’s Column itself: a beacon of streaming text inviting others to join in and add their voice.

Es Devlin says:

“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?”

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Ben Evans, London Design Festival Director, said: ‘Trafalgar Square is the centre of London and one of the country’s major public spaces. Es Devlin is a leading stage and set designer brimming with ideas. The combination offers one of the highlights of the 2018 London Design Festival. “Please Feed The Lions” is a must-see.”

Freya Murray, Program Manager for Google Arts & Culture says, “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.”

Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director of The Space, says, ‘We’re delighted to be supporting Please Feed the Lions and to be working with LDF, Google Arts & Culture and Es Devlin to bring this ground-breaking project to life. The unique combination of cutting edge machine learning and AI technology with traditional public sculpture will inspire, amaze and entertain audiences around the world as well as in Trafalgar Square, widening access and participation to both the arts and new technologies.’ #LDF2018