Data scientists have revealed the identity of enigmatic graffiti artist Bansky using ‘geographic profiling’.
The technique was developed to identity possible criminals using spatial locations of crimes to form an anchor point - usually the perpetrator’s home or workplace.
The model has also been used during disease outbreaks to identify the addresses of infected individuals and track down the source of the virus.
An early Banksy work in Stokes Croft, Bristol (SWNS)
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) used precise coordinates from 140 locations using publicly available data in order to track down the real Banksy.
Banksy’s bleak Dismaland theme park in Weston-super-Mare (Simon Chapman/LNP/REX Shutterstock)
According to the study, published in the Journal of Spatial Science, the artist’s true identity is Robin Gunningham.
Gunningham has previously been named as a possible Banksy but the speculation has never been confirmed or denied.
More early artwork from Banksy in Stokes Croft, Bristol (SWNS)
The researchers say that the broader implications of the findings are important because the model could also be used to identify terrorists.
They argue that as terrorists often take part in low-level activities like vandalism, graffiti, leaflet distribution and banner posting prior to major attacks, the technique could be used to track them down earlier on, and potentially save lives.
A geo-profiling map compiled by scientists tracking down Banksy. Red dots are art works, light patches are areas of high interest (SWNS)
One of the geo-profiling maps compiled by scientists tracking down graffiti artist Banksy. Red dots are art works, light areas are areas of high interest i.e. where there is a match.
Critics have questioned the validity of the study as Banksy does his work anonymously so it’s not always obvious which piece being to him or whether the work was carried out with other people.
Image credit: Erik Pendzich/Rex/REX Shutterstock