All About New Media Artist Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol is a new media artist who uses unique data sets and machine learning to create stunning, immersive masterpieces that challenge our perception of space, time and narrative. From the facades of iconic buildings to digital “crypto” art, Anadol pushes the boundaries of where art can live and for whom it should exist. 

Having collaborated with him to present his work at all three of our locations including his first major retrospective, Infinite Space, as well as his first large-scale solo exhibition in New York City, Machine Hallucination, we’re honored to be part of Anadol’s journey and are looking forward to the infinite possibilities of what we can do together next! 

New Media Artist Refik Anadol: Biography

Refik Anadol’s imagination took off at age eight with two firsts: getting a computer and watching Blade Runner. This Turkish artist’s early fascination with technology and film has inspired his body of work or “data dramatizations,” which explore a central question: If machines can learn, can they dream?

In taking the data that flows around us as his primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as his collaborator, Anadol paints with a thinking brush — creating moving stories through his mesmerizing visualizations of invisible data. 

The data that new media artist Refik Anadol transforms often fall into two categories:

  • Public “open” data from places like city records and social media. 
  • Environmental data from research. 

The first is an approach that Anadol used to create Machine Hallucination for our inaugural ARTECHOUSE NYC exhibition, which began with a dataset of over 100 million ima›ges of New York City.

Machine Hallucination by Refik Anadol at ARTECHOUSE NYC

The second, Anadaol incorporates in works such as “Wind Data Paintings” (based on meteorological wind pattern data) and “Bosphorous” (based on high-frequency radar collections from Turkey’s Marmara Sea) — both of which were featured in Infinite Space at ARTECHOUSE DC and Miami.

Infinite Space by Refik Anadol at ARTECHOUSE DC

Pushing the possibilities of datasets even further, new media artist Refik Anadol then applies artificial intelligence (AI) to create original outputs or “hallucinations.” 

He honed such skill during his artist residency at Google where he had the opportunity to create with the most cutting edge machine learning tools and big data sets of our time — what he considers a “Renaissance moment” for his career.

Anadol is quick to note that his works are not sculptures or paintings as we often think of them, but creations constructed by data points and machine intelligence itself.

In my work, I am trying to find the poetry inside those datasets to create a new meaning beyond what data means.

Refik Anadol, New Media Artist

Over the past decade, new media artist Refik Anadol has never stopped innovating at the intersection of art, architecture and technology. From receiving an MFA from UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department to launching his own studio, Anadol continues to shape the future of storytelling — one that merges the real and the virtual.

New Media Artist Refik Anadol: Work and Accomplishments

Refik Anadol’s site-specific parametric data sculptures, live audio-visual performances and immersive installations take many forms — while offering a dramatic rethinking of the physical world, our relationship to time and space, and the creative potential of machines.  

New media artist Refik Anadol’s highly acclaimed work with ARTECHOUSE includes:

Infinite Space
June – September 2019 at ARTECHOUSE DC
October 2019 – 2020 at ARTECHOUSE Miami

Through a selection of past work as well as ARTECHOUSE premieres, this first major retrospective of new media artist Refik Anadol explored data sets ranging from human memories to photographs of Mars, inviting visitors to open their senses to the endless possibilities at the intersection of man and machine. 

Main Gallery Retrospective

Infinite Space by Refik Anadol at ARTECHOUSE DC
  • Bosphorous (Nov 2018, Pilevneli – Istanbul, Turkey) – This data sculpture is based on the rhythms of high-frequency radar collections of the Marmara Sea in Turkey, taken in 30 minute intervals over 30 days.
  • Archive Dreaming (April 2017, SALT Research – Istanbul, Turkey) – This immersive installation used machine learning algorithms to uncover relationships between 1.7 million archival materials from the SALT Research Collections.
  • Machine Memoirs (June 2019, ARTECHOUSE premier) – This immersive exploration of celestial structures trained A.I. on a dataset of approximately 2.2 million images of the Earth, Moon, Mars and galaxies from NASA missions ISS, Chandra, Kepler, Voyager and Hubble. By learning from past explorations, the machine “dreams” about what has yet to be discovered and creates alternate universes that may exist just beyond our reach.

Infinity Room (Sept 2015, Zorlu Center of Performing Arts – Istanbul, Turkey)

Infinity Room by Refik Anadol at ARTECHOUSE DC’s Infinite Space

This immersive audio-visual installation has been viewed around the world by over 2 million people and is part of Anadol’s “Temporary Immersive Environment Experiments” — creating a sense of “immersion,” much like virtual reality but without the headset. This work uses machine randomness itself as a dataset to algorithmically generate light and sound, creating a limitless viewing experience that challenges our perception of place and self.

Infinity Cubes

Infinity Cubes by Refik Anadol at ARTECHOUSE DC’s Infinite Space
  • Pladis: Data Universe (Feb 2018, Istanbul, Turkey) – This immersive audio-visual installation uses NASA’s open source data on the star cluster M45 (also known as Pleiades) and is part of Anadol’s “Temporary Immersive Environment Experiments” — creating a sense of “immersion,” much like virtual reality but without the headset.
  • Celestial Structures (June 2019, ARTECHOUSE premier) – This immersive installation uses a similar dataset from NASA missions as “Machine Memoirs” but focuses on a subset of the data and allows viewers to physically step into its infiniteness. 
  • Wind Data Paintings (Jan 2017, Boston MA) – This series of data paintings were Anadol’s first commissions and transform meteorological wind patterns collected from Boston’s Logan airport into a soothing, immersive visual experience.
  • Melting Memories (Feb 2018, Pilevneli – Istanbul, Turkey) – Inspired by his uncle’s diagnosis with Alzheimers, this data sculpture transforms EEG data collected by scientists at the Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California into a moving visualization of the moment of remembering.

Data Tunnel (June 2019, ARTECHOUSE premier) – This immersive installation uses a similar dataset from NASA missions as “Machine Memoirs” but instead uses LEDs and mirrors to create an alternate universe where visitors lose their sense of space while walking through and exploring the notion of infinity as it relates to our galaxy.

“This collection of work represents my passion to critically pursue the intersection of machine intelligence, media, and architecture. I hope to offer a new visualization of our digitized memories, expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion, as well as a dramatic rethinking of the physical world, our relationship to time and space, and the creative potential of machines to enhance our cognitive capacities.”

Refik Anadol, Media Artist

Machine Hallucination
Sept 2019 – Jan 2020 at ARTECHOUSE NYC

This inaugural installation at ARTECHOUSE NYC was Refik Anadol’s first large-scale installation in New York City and the first to utilize artificial intelligence (AI).

Collaborating with Anadol and his team, we transformed the boiler room below the historic Chelsea Market, where ARTECHOUSE NYC is located, into an immersive cinematic experience of the city’s deeply-hidden consciousness. 

“The level of collaboration with ARTECHOUSE is truly pushing the boundaries of art and technology.”

Refik Anadol, Media Artist

By deploying machine learning algorithms on one of the world’s largest datasets — over 130 million architectural images of New York City — Anadol created a data universe of the city’s collective memories and their AI re-imaginings. 

This novel form of synesthetic storytelling was presented immersively in 1025 latent dimensions through ARTECHOUSE’s unprecedented 16K resolution projection technology and 32 Hypersurreal Sound channels. 

“I feel privileged to be chosen as the inaugural artist for ARTECHOUSE’s newest space,” Anadol said. “I’m especially proud to be the first to reimagine this historic building, which is more than 100 years old. By employing machine intelligence to help narrate the hybrid relationship between architecture and our perception of time and space, Machine Hallucination offers the audience a glimpse into the future of architecture itself.”

Additional noteworthy work from new media artist Refik Anadol includes:

WDCH Dreams
To celebrate LA Philharmonic’s 100th Anniversary, Anadol presented nightly live projection performances on the Frank Gehry designed facade of the Walt Disney Concert Hall for one week. Anadol made this iconic building “dream” by applying machine intelligence to the orchestra’s digital archives of over 45 TB of data, presenting the building’s “memories” and uncovering new connections. This project brought Anadol and all of us one step closer to the Los Angeles of his Blade Runner inspiration.  

Additional site-specific, audio-visual performances by new media artist Refik Anadol have been featured around the world, from the Hammer Museum in the United States to the Ars Electronic Festival in Austria.

New media artist Refik Anadol has also been honored with several awards and prizes including the Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media Art, Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award, Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award, the German Design Award and more.

For more about Refik Anadol please follow him at the links below:

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