science has revealed banksy's true identity

A geographical profiling study has all but unmasked the enigmatic street artist.

by Hannah Ongley
04 March 2016, 4:57pm

Art meets science in a new geographical profiling study from Queen Mary University of London, which probably just revealed the identity of the art world's most and least iconic figure.

The full report on Banksy's unmasking has now been released by academic publisher Taylor & Francis following a clash with the mysterious street artist's legal team. It all but confirms what everyone thought but no one knew for sure: Banksy is probably Robin Gunningham from Bristol. The distribution of Banksy graffiti was found to peak in locations frequented or inhabited by Gunningham. 

"We use a Dirichlet process mixture (DPM) model of geographic profiling, a mathematical technique developed in criminology and finding increasing application within ecology and epidemiology, to analyze the spatial patterns of Banksy artworks in Bristol and London," the researchers explain. "The model takes as input the locations of these artworks, and calculates the probability of 'offender' residence across the study area. Our analysis highlights areas associated with one prominent candidate (e.g., his home), supporting his identification as Banksy."

Steve Le Comber, co-author of the study, told the BBC: "What I thought I would do is pull out the 10 most likely suspects, evaluate all of them and not name any. But it rapidly became apparent that there is only one serious suspect, and everyone knows who it is." He added that he's an O.G. Banksy fanboy, and doesn't think his team has "unmasked" the artist. But he's pretty confident in the findings. "I'd be surprised if it's not [Gunningham], even without our analysis, but it's interesting that the analysis offers additional support for it."  


Text Hannah Ongley
Image Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

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