Whether or not you’re a fan of his work, you’ve got to hand it to Banksy. Even after years in the spotlight, the elusive street artist’s true identity is still unknown. There are still those looking to uncover the mystery of who Banksy really is, including researchers from Queen Mary University of London who believe they may have found the man they’re looking for.
Utilizing both a geographic mapping technique and statistical analysis, researchers from Queen Mary University in London have concluded that Banksy’s true identity is Robin Gunningham, a college-educated native of Bristol, England, born July 28, 1973. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Gunningham was first presumed to be Banksy in a 2008 article by the Daily Mail. The original hypothesis that “support[s] his identification as Banksy” stems from a research paper that highlights the proximity between Gunningham’s known residences and the locations where Banksy has displayed his work in the London area.
The particular methods used for the researchers’ study are typically reserved for uncovering the location of criminals. Publication of the research paper was initially delayed by Banksy’s lawyers, who questioned how the study was being promoted.
The researchers behind the study of Banksy’s true identity aren’t under the impression that their conclusion is full proof. They do, however, believe that their findings strengthen the theory first introduced by the Daily Mail. Steve Le Comber, one of the report’s authors, stated that he’d “be surprised if it’s not [Gunningham], even without our analysis, but it’s interesting that the analysis offers additional support for it.”
If you’re wondering why researchers at a university would dedicate resources to unmasking a famous street artist, that’s actually not their intent. The research is intended to serve a larger purpose. According to the researchers’ paper, the results of the study will be used to support the theory that “analysis of minor terrorism-related acts (like graffiti) could be used to help locate terrorist bases before more serious incidents occur, and provides a fascinating example of the application of the model to a complex, real-world problem.”
Let’s hope Banksy’s true identity remains a secret so he can go on creating more thought-provoking art installations like his New York City residency “Better Out Than In,” and more recently, the impressive bemusement park known as “Dismaland.”
Photo Credit: electronicresistance.net