Mysterious Artist Banksy Identified? This Is Banksy, According To Claims Of Scientists

Scientists claim to have identified mysterious street artist Banksy, using statistical and scientific methods of geographic profiling commonly used for catching criminals. Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London studied the anonymous artist’s movements based on the location of his U.K. works and identified “hot spots” in Banksy’s activity in Bristol and London. By tracking the movements of one Bristol man — the main suspect in previous investigations — between key Bristol and London addresses, scientists claim to have finally unmasked the mysterious artist, as reported by the Inquisitr yesterday. They have identified Banksy as Robin Gunningham of Bristol, pictured below — but are the results conclusive?

Geographic profiling is a widely respected and relied upon form of scientific research, and is more commonly used to catch criminals or identify locations of viral outbreak in order to curb the spread of epidemic diseases rather than identify anonymous street artists. While it is claimed to have been successful in having finally identified Banksy, BBC reports that it is not absolutely, irrefutably conclusive in this instance. Speaking to Spencer Chainey of University College London, who runs the only geographic profiling course outside of America, BBC explains why.

“[Chainey said] that the study is perhaps not as precise, in some respects, as the way working criminologists might use the method. Outliers in the location data were not excluded, for example, and the researchers did not use a timeline of which graffiti appeared when,” said Chainey of the scientists’ claim.

“They’ve looked at all the data without considering the temporal features of it. I don’t necessarily think they haven’t got the right man – I just think there’s more they could have done to fine tune the analysis.”

One of Banksy's more popular works was referenced in this symbolic marking of the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict in London - the image of a girl releasing a red balloon recreates the famous 'There Is Always Hope' graffiti on London's South Bank by Banksy. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
One of Banksy's more popular works was referenced in this symbolic marking of the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict in London - the image of a girl releasing a red balloon recreates the famous 'There Is Always Hope' graffiti on London's South Bank by Banksy. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time a concerted effort has been made to unmask the mysterious artists’s identity. A previous investigative effort was undertaken in 2008 and published in U.K. newspaper Mail on Sunday. That investigation saw one name crop up repeatedly in the data gathered: Robin Gunningham. The Daily Mail spoke to scientists from QMUL and reported on their techniques for unmasking the master of mystery and how Banksy was identified as Gunningham.

“Once they had dotted each ‘hit’, they determined which areas were targeted the most and found a number of coincidences between Banksy and Gunningham,” says the Daily Mail. “Both, in London and Bristol, Banksy’s peaks were in close proximity to areas linked to Gunningham – including where he grew up, where he went to school and also where his girlfriend, now wife, lived.”

Before scientists allegedly identified Banksy as Gunningham, the artist launched a 'bemusement park', 'Dismaland', in London (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Before scientists allegedly identified Banksy as Gunningham, the artist launched a 'bemusement park', 'Dismaland', in London (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
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The scientists who claim to have the mysterious artist Banksy identified have worked with police to gather and analyse data about the artist’s true identity. In the eight years since the original Banksy investigation, scientific and technological advancements have provided a more viable method by which the artist could be identified.

Their efforts may have been hindered by various legal and privacy issues, most recently, the delayed publication of the study and its results in the Journal of Spatial Science due to an intervention by Banksy’s lawyers. With the practice of street art already facing contention, as reported by the Inquisitr after a controversial new Banksy appeared in London in January, and the mysterious artist not conclusively identified as Gunningham, the claim by scientists has been a long time coming.

Scientists claim to have mysterious artist Banksy identified at last, but are the results fully, finally conclusive? The answer, it would seem — perhaps to the anonymous artist’s relief — is no.

[Image by Adel Hana/AP]