The Gentleman Vandal and the Turingator

Days to the Centenary: 239

Posterchild is the nom de guerre (or maybe nom d’art) of a Toronto street artist, a self-styled “gentleman vandal” who creates independent public art.  Sometimes his work is in a familiar style, like stencilling.  Other times his projects are participatory, as with Take a Picture, Leave a Picture, in which he mounted cameras in public places for anyone to use, then later replaced the cameras with framed prints of the photos people had taken. He maintains a blog on which he has documented his work for years, using text, still images, and video.

In 2006, Posterchild meditated upon the question “What if Alan Mathison Turing — the man often considered to be the father of modern computer science — was actually a highly specialized T-800 model, sent back in time to ensure the eventual creation of Skynet?”  The result of his musings was the Turingator, pictured below.

The Turingator, Toronto, 2006

The Turingator, Toronto, September 2006

Posterchild then revisited the Turingator in February 2007, after it had been up for a few months.

The Turingator, Toronto, February 2007

The Turingator, Toronto, February 2007

Naturally the street had had it’s way with it. As the artist says:

The paper has gotten nice and yellowed, and has been torn at a great deal. But the key parts are left. It looks great. I think it has aged very well.

Then, in 2009, Posterchild recycled the Turingator as a sticker to celebrate the British government’s official apology to Turing for his prosecution for having engaged in gay sex and his subsequent chemical castration, both of which are widely thought to have contributed to his suicide.  Posterchild put up over 100 of the stickers.

Turingator sticker, Toronto, October 2009

Turingator sticker, New York, October 2009

Now, I would never encourage anyone to break the law, but neither would I want to exclude street artists from being Turing Elves and creating their own works for the Turing Year, so to the extent that there are already people going out and posting images or graffiti or other forms of independent public art, there are worse things they could do than to honour Alan Turing.  I’m just sayin’.

Here is a link to a video of Posterchild at work, in this case on one of his astronauts (they are a theme with him: sometimes doomed, sometimes dead, often faceless, and for his first gallery show, embodied in fabric dolls) .  Caution: the video opens with some rather loud construction noise, though it then quietens down and settles into some nice music.

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