Refik Anadol is a media artist and director from Istanbul whose large-scale and interactive AI projects have inspired audiences worldwide.
Refik Anadol is known for transforming architectural spaces and façades into giant canvases for live media arts. He creates site-specific public art and data sculptures, often paired with live audio/visual performances and immersive installations.
Anadol’s body of work addresses the challenges and possibilities of ubiquitous computing, and what it means to be a human in the age of machine intelligence. His award winning projects also explore how the perception and experience of time and space are radically changing now that machines dominate our everyday lives.
Selected AI artworks:
1. WDCH Dreams
What if we could use computers to draw upon the rich history of human experience, preserving and presenting our collective memories in powerful new ways? These are the kind of questions Anadol explored in WDCH, which mapped the entire history of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s archives onto the surface of its exterior. This massive machine learning and projection mapping project brought to light years of video footage from one of the greatest musical institutions in the world, and transformed it into a dynamic and evolving canvas sharing these rich memories to the public.
WDCH Dreams, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to celebrate their Centennial, explores the orchestra’s 100-year history, and visualizes their future. Anadol and his team developed a unique machine intelligence approach to apply to the entire LA Phil digital archive – 45 terabytes of data. The results are stunning visualizations in two forms, a week-long public art installation projected onto the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall’s undulating exterior, and a season-long immersive exhibition inside WDCH at the Ira Gershwin Gallery.
The project was a collaboration with Artists and Machine Intelligence (AMI), a program at Google Arts & Culture that invites artists to work with engineers and researchers together in the design of intelligent systems.
Location: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, United States
Project Partners:LA Phil, VER
Photo Credit: Refik Anadol
2. Archive Dreaming
Archive Dreaming is a temporary immersive environment with architecture as a canvas, light as a material, and data as content. Commissioned to work with SALT Research collections, Anadol employed machine learning algorithms to search and sort relationships among 1,700,000 documents. Interactions of the multidimensional data found in the archives are, in turn, translated into an immersive media installation.
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Project Partners: Google Artists and Machine Intelligence Photo Credit: Refik Anadol
Photo Credit: Refik Anadol
3. Melting Memories
Melting Memories is a series of digital artworks that explore the materiality of remembering by offering new insights into the representational possibilities
emerging from the intersection of advanced technology and contemporary art. Comprised of data paintings, augmented data sculptures, and light projections, the project as a whole debuts new advances in technology that enable visitors to experience aesthetic interpretations of EEG data collected on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control.
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Project Partners: Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco
Photo Credit: Refik Anadol
Anadol on using artificial intelligence:
How do you think technology is impacting humanity?
“Two things immediately come to mind. One is displacement, or the way that machines are so much into us that they make us disconnect from space. I don’t know how we can counter that attack.
The other is AI or artificial intelligence, which can put us in a much richer quality of thinking. But we have to be careful to avoid a sense of displacement...
When we're inside these machines, inside meaning, when we're looking through the lens of a machine, looking through a social network, looking through a world that is not physical here but there, that feeling was my big inspiration. It's a sense of displacement, meaning you are not physically there, you're not virtually there, you're in between these worlds.
So, to make a new meaning like this with art, I found that light is a perfect material that can be used to highlight this feeling, the feeling of being in the fourth dimension of both virtual and physical. But architecture is always my canvas: A building, a lobby, a wall, a glass, whatever it is.”
What materials do you work with?
“I’m using data a lot. We have so much data, but we’re leaving so much of it behind us. I want to know how we can make meaning from that. I use data to make images that help people imagine a whole new world...
Once you bring in machine learning algorithms, AI algorithms, then you suddenly have a cognitive capacity in your hand as an artist. You can let the building learn, let the building dream, let the building become kind of human. Those are part of my imagination with the built environment.”
How has working in public spaces impacted your creative practice?
“Having created many local projects, most especially those in public spaces, definitely changed my life. My main reason of moving to L.A., changing to a new system of education was to be able to create projects in public spaces. I never had a special interest in going to exhibitions, museums, or galleries. At that time I had prejudice against the “let’s go see some art” approach. How appealing could it be if you’d already known what you were going to see. The same thing applies to what I do. If I know the result of what I’m doing, without the element of surprise, I don’t do it. Thus, I gravitated towards public art. Inherently, public art must have an idea regarding its surrounding. So I began to think more localized about that. Nowadays I make projects in public areas in cities such as London, Dubai, Seoul, New York, Boston, Istanbul, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Briefly, I can say that what has evolved significantly is the idea itself and the fact that it’s more localized.”
Where do you get your inspiration?
“I’m very excited about cinema. I watch a lot of films, read a lot, and explore a lot of architecture. I’m intrigued by the limitations of the physical quality of life. I love monumental spaces, and I think archives are one of the most important physical spaces, because that’s where information turns into knowledge.”
Refik Anadol (b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey) is a media artist and director. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he owns and operates Refik Anadol Studio. Anadol is also a lecturer and researcher for UCLA's Department of Design Media Arts from which he obtained his Master of Fine Arts.
Anadol’s body of work addresses the challenges, and the possibilities, that ubiquitous computing has imposed on human kind, and what it means to be a human in the age of machine intelligence. He explores how the perception and experience of time and space are radically changing now that machines dominate our everyday lives. As a spatial thinker, Anadol is intrigued by the ways in which the digital age and machine intelligence allow for a new aesthetic technique to create enriched immersive environments that offer a dynamic perception of space.
By proposing the possibility of “post-digital architecture,” Anadol invites his audience to imagine alternative realities by re-defining the functionalities of both interior and exterior architectural elements. Anadol tackles this by not simply integrating media into built forms, but by translating the logic of a new media technology into spatial design.
Residing at the crossroads of art, science, and technology, Anadol’s site-specific parametric data sculptures, live audio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many virtual and physical forms. Entire buildings come to life, floors, walls, and ceilings disappear into infinity, breathtaking aesthetics take shape from large swaths of data, and what was once invisible to the human eye becomes visible, offering the audience a new perspective on, and narrative of their worlds.
The primary thread that runs throughout Anadol’s groundbreaking visualizations of the unseen world is data: for WDCH Dreams, Anadol accessed 100 years of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s digital archives; for Oakland’s Sense of Place, real-time environmental data informs the work; and for Charlotte Airport’s Interconnected, he utilizes real-time airport statistics.
Refik Anadol Studio employs a unique team of prominent computer scientists, software developers, architects, engineers, and designers to realize Anadol’s vision. A pioneer in his field, Anadol has partnered with teams at Microsoft, Google (Artist and Machine Intelligence), Nvidia, JPL/NASA, Intel, IBM, Siemens and Epson, to apply the latest, cutting-edge science and technologies to his work.
Refik Anadol is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes including the Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media Art, Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award, German Design Award, UCLA Art+Architecture Moss Award, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award, SEGD Global Design Awards, and Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award.
Anadol’s site-specific audio/visual performances have been featured at iconic landmarks, museums and festivals worldwide, such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hammer Museum, International Digital Arts Biennial Montreal, Ars Electronica Festival , l’Usine | Genève, Arc De Triomf, Zollverein | SANAA’s School of Design Building, santralistanbul Contemporary Art Center, Outdoor Vision Festival, Istanbul Design Biennial, Sydney City Art, and Lichtrouten, among many others.
Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media Art (2019)
SEGD Global Design Awards (2016, 2018, 2019)
Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture (2018)
Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award (2016 & 2018)
German Design Award (2016 & 2017)
University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award (2014)
Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award (2013)
Anadol’s public art projects:
SENSE OF SPACE – Oakland, CA (2019)
DATALAND - Las Vegas, NV (2019)
WIND OF SEOUL - Seoul, Korea (2019)
WIND OF DUBAI - Dubai, UAE (2019)
DATA UNIVERSE OF PORTLAND – Portland, OR (2019)
SUNSET 8497 – West Hollywood, CA (2020)
VIRTUAL APPLIQUE : BEVERLY - Beverly Center, Los Angeles, CA (2019) INTERCONNECTED – CLT Airport, Charlotte, NC (2018)
WDCH DREAMS – Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA (2018)
CONVERGENCE – Los Angeles, CA (2017)
ARCHIVE DREAMING – Istanbul, Turkey (2017)
WIND OF ISTANBUL - Istanbul, Turkey (2017)
CIRROSTRATUS – Culver City, CA (2017)
WIND OF BOSTON – Boston, MA (2016)
VIRTUAL DEPICTIONS: SAN FRANCISCO - 350 Mission St., San Francisco, CA (2015)
MACHINE HALLUCINATION, Artechouse, New York, NY (coming May, 2019)
INFINITY ROOM, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, USA (2019)
INFINITY ROOM, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2019)
MACHINE HALLUCINATIONS - Study I, Biforms LA, Los Angeles, CA (2019)
BOSPHORUS, Pilevneli Gallery, Fabrika, Istanbul, Turkey (2019)
WDCH DREAMS, Gershwin Gallery, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA (2018)
MELTING MEMORIES, Open Codes, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2018)
MELTING MEMORIES, Pilevneli Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey (2018)
INFINITY ROOM, New Zealand Festival, Wellington, New Zealand (2018)
VIRTUAL ARCHIVE, SALT Galata, Istanbul, Turkey (2018)
LIMINALITY V1.0, International Art Projects, Hildesheim, Germany (2018)
INFINITY ROOM, Kaneko Museum, Omaha, Nebraska (2018)
THE INVISIBLE BODY: DATA PAINTINGS, Sven-Harrys Museum, Stockholm, Sweden (2018)
DATA SCULPTURE SERIES, Art Center Nabi, Seoul, South Korea (2018)
1-2-3 DATA EXHIBITION, Paris, EDF, France (2018)
INFINITY ROOM, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, USA (2018)
INFINITY ROOM, Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA, USA (2018)
INFINITY ROOM, MeConvention, Frankfurt, Germany (2017)
ARCHIVE DREAMING, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (2017)
WIND OF LINZ, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (2017)
INFINITY ROOM, Beijing, China (2017)
ARCHIVE DREAMING, SALT Galata, Istanbul, Turkey (2017)
INFINITY ROOM, Athens, Greece (2017)
HETEROTOPIA, Istanbul, Turkey (2017)
INFINITY ROOM, SXSW, Austin, TX (2017)
WARHOL X ANADOL, Young Projects, Los Angeles, USA (2016)
RADICAL ATOMS, Ars Electronica – Computer Animation Festival, Linz, Austria (2016) INFINITY ROOM, The Conference, Malmö, Sweden (2016)
INFINITY ROOM, TAG Festival, Mexico City, Mexico (2016)
MULTIPLICITY – VICTOR VASARELY, Fondation Vasarely, Paris, France (2016)
CAVITY INFOCOMM, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (2016)
INFINITY ROOM, Mapping Festival, Geneva, Switzerland (2016)
INFINITY ROOM, VIA Festival, Paris, France (2016)
INFINITY ROOM, EXIT Festival, Paris, France (2016)
INFINITY ROOM, Day For Night, Houston, Texas, USA (2015)
CAVITY MONOCHROME, Akbank Sanat, Istanbul, Turkey (2015)
LIMINAL ROOM, Istanbul Light Festival, Istanbul, Turkey (2015)
SIGGRAPH ASIA 2015, Art Gallery, Kobe, Japan (2015)
EXPECTED PORT CITY TALKS / ISTANBUL-ANTWERP, Europalia, Antwerp, Belgium (2015)
WAVELENGTHS DIGITAL TURKEY EXHIBITION, Europalia, Antwerp, Belgium (2015)
INFINITY ROOM ARTNIVO, Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2015)
SIGGRAPH 2015 : ELECTRONIC THEATER, Los Angeles, USA (2015)
ARS ELECTRONICA - COMPUTER ANIMATION FESTIVAL, Linz, Austria (2015)
THE NEW CREATIVITY: MAN AND MACHINES, MAK, Los Angeles, USA (2015)
DIGITAL COUTURE / EPSON, Industria SuperStudio, New York, USA (2015)
WAVES, Blok Art Space, Istanbul, Turkey (2015)
CAVITY, RH Contemporary Art Gallery, New York, USA (2014)
ALGO-RHYTHMS, Sonos-Studio, Los Angeles, USA (2014)
ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD MOSAIC PROJECT, New York, USA (2014)
UCLA DMA MEDIA ARTS MFA EXHIBITION, New Wight Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2014)
PRESENTISM: LIGHT AS MATERIAL, Young Projects, Los Angeles, USA (2014)
VITRA CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE SERIES: DREAM TO REALITIES, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul (2014)
PARALLEL THREADS, Ekavart Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey (2013)
PREFIX, Media Arts MFA Exhibition, New Wight Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2013)
INCIDENCE, UCLA DMA MFA Group Show, Design Matters Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2013)
HE ACTIVE APPARATUS & LIMINAL LANDSCAPES, Young Projects, Los Angeles, USA (2013)
ISTANBUL DESIGN BIENNIAL, istanbulmodern, Istanbul, Turkey (2012)
SCEPTICAL INTERVENTIONS, Pilevneli Projects, Istanbul, Turkey (2012)
ISTANBUL SUMMER EXHIBITION, Antrepo 5, Sanat Limani, Istanbul (2012)
MINUS FELD, American Hospital, “Operation Room”, Istanbul (2011)
HUMAN LANDSCAPES, Goethe Institut & Contretype, Brussels, Belgium (2010)
SPAGAT, Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany (2010)
UNTITLED II, ULG, Liége, Belgium (2010)
TRACK 09, ÇSM – santralistanbul, Istanbul (2010)
UNTITLED, Galeri 1 – santralistanbul, Istanbul (2009)
ACADEMY MEETS PHOTOKINA, Photokina, Köln, Germany (2009)
TRACK 08, Contemporary Art Center – santralistanbul, Istanbul, Turkey (2008)
Anadol’s speaking engagements:
Art & AI, Neuehouse LA (Talk, 2018)
AI and Creativity, Melbourne Design Week, Australia (Talk, 2018)
OFFF Festival, Barcelona, Spain (Lecture, 2018)
Georgia Tech - Digital Building Lab Symposium (Lecture, 2017)
Digi.Logue Future Tellers (Speaker, 2017)
American Alliance of Museums - Museum AI (Lecture, 2017)
The Poetics of Data - Charlotte ASC (Lecture, 2017)
Knowledge Capital, Osaka (Lecture, 2017)
AIA Virginia (Speaker, 2017)
Microsoft Research (Speaker, 2018)
Emergent Visions / Nanyang Technology University (Lecture, 2018)
Harvard School of Graduate Design (Lecture, 2018)
Digi.logue Future Tellers (Speaker, 2017)
Ars Electronica / AI Panel (Lecture, 2017) Google AMI (Speaker, 2017)
USC – Praxis (Speaker, 2017)
Microsoft Research (Speaker, 2017) G-Tech (Speaker, 2017)
INST-INT (Speaker, 2017)
CalARTS Visiting Lecture Series (Lecture, 2016)
SEGD X Lab NYC (Lecture, 2016)
The Conference Generative Design (Lecture, 2016)
Microsoft Windows Design Group (Lecture, 2016)
Strelka Institute (Lecture, 2016)
Digital Hollywood Music 2020 (Lecture, 2016)
Digi.logue Discovery and Innovations in New Media and Art (Lecture, 2016)
Resonate (Lecture, 2016)
Perspectives: The Design Fusion of Art and Architecture (Panel, 2016)
Art and Machine Learning Symposium, Gray Area / Google (Talk, 2016)
Microsoft Research, Social Computing Symposium, NYU / ITP (Talk, 2016)
Beyond Music: Composition and Performance in the Age of Augmented Reality (Lecture, 2015)
USC Interactive Media Forum (Lecture, 2015)
Resonate (Lecture, 2015)
NODE15 (Talk & Lecture, 2015)
Loyola Marymount University (Talk + Lecture, 2015)
Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium (Talk + Lecture, 2014)
UCLA IDEAS (Talk & Lecture, 2014)
Microsoft Research, Design Summit (Talk, 2013)
UCLA Design Media Arts (Talk, 2012)
ISEA 2010 (Talk, 2010)