Refik Anadol’s algorithmic art is a merging of man and machine.

Robert Perry  |  Ed Francesca Gransden  |  8 April 2020 – updated 19 Dec 20

Refik Anadol “Nature Dreams” (2020). © Courtesy of the artist.

Refik Anadol is a multi-disciplinary media artist whose large-scale installations consider relations between art, technology, machine intelligence and architecture.

Born 1985 in Turkey, Anadol has Masters in Fine Arts degrees from Istanbul Bilgi University and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he now lectures.

Anadol is known for mining mass data sets that may seem mundane and turning them into revealing digital sculptures that visualise our contemporary inter-connected condition.

A multi-award winner, the artist’s first major retrospective, Infinite Space, was held at Washington D.C.’s Artechouse in 2019.

Refik Anadol “WDCH” (2018) © Courtesy of the artist.

Anadol has form for completing both grandiose and novel works. In 2018, Anadol applied machine learning algorithms to interpret The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 45 terabyte digital archive and projected the resulting visualisations onto the Walt Disney Concert Hall for one week, using 42 large-scale projectors. This year, he utilised data sets from Rolls Royce to create Art of Perfection: Data Painting, a digital canvas incorporating the colours of every car made at the company’s headquarters in the last decade.

Refik Anadol “Augmented Perspectives” (2020) © Courtesy of the artist

An artwork from Anadol’s series Melting Memories is included in the Neurons, simulated intelligence exhibition that opened at Paris’ Centre Pompidou in February 2020. The show tracks the historic origins of artificial intelligence in order to understand its near ubiquity today. Anadol’s work features alongside Renaissance etchings of the human brain and pieces exploring cybernetics and robotics, emphasising the genealogy of intelligence simulation in the arts.

Important works

Refik Anadol “Infinity Room” (2015) © Courtesy of the artist.

Infinity Room (2015) 

Debuting at Istanbul’s Zorlu Performing Art Centre, the work has received worldwide acclaim and has been experienced by more than two million visitors at exhibitions across Europe, America and Asia. In 2017, Infinity Room was awarded the Excellent Communications Design for Audiovisual Experience by the German Design Award.

Refik Anadol “Wind of Boston” (2017) © Courtesy of the artist.

Wind of Boston: Data Paintings (2017)

Few artists could turn routine aviation data into poetic ruminations on nature’s blend with the city. The artist’s raw materials for this project were data sets collected by Boston Logan International Airport over a one year period tracking the speed, direction, times and temperatures of wind. The resulting series of 6′ by 13′ high-resolution LED paintings are swirling formations capturing the ebb and flow of nature’s force. A truly unique approach, the work signifies Anadol as a creative with the analytical tools to unearth profound narratives in the age of ‘big data’.

Refik Anadol “Melting Memories” (2018) © Courtesy of the artist.

Melting Memories (2018)

Melting Memories (2018) courtesy of the artist

Data Sculptures: 5 Meters by 6 Meters custom LED Media Wall

Data Paintings: 65” 4K OLED Display

After a family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Anadol became interested in creating art that tangibly represented ‘remembering’. He teamed up with neuroscientists to record the brain pulses of subjects while they concentrated on childhood memories. This formed the basis for algorithms used to produce data paintings, augmented data sculptures and light projections. The sculptures, displayed on an LED media wall, are titanic ripples of thought in action that show the science of memory can be expressed through art. The title alludes not only to the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s but also to Anadol melting together the realms of art, science, technology and philosophy.

What’s next?

AI research for Renaissance Dreams exhibition. We trained our AI with all the sculptures created during Renaissance era. Exhibition opening 31st of October in Milano, Italy!

Refik Anadol, Renaissance Dreams (2020) at @meetdigitalculturecenter © Courtesy of the artist and Meet Digital Culture Center
Refik Anadol, Renaissance Dreams (2020) at @meetdigitalculturecenter © Courtesy of the artist and Meet Digital Culture Center
Refik Anadol, Renaissance Dreams (2020) at @meetdigitalculturecenter © Courtesy of the artist and Meet Digital Culture Center
Refik Anadol, (2020) at National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne, Australia © Courtesy of the artist and NVG

AI Data Sculpture project Quantum Memories

The artworks  speculate the many-worlds interpretation which is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts that the universal wavefunction is objectively real and that there is no wavefunction collapse.

For this project we trained our AI with 200 million images of Nature and worked closely with Google AI Quantum researcher to understand Quantum Supremacy! The piece is an immersive 3D Data Sculpture in 10M x 10M x 2.5M dimensions. Opening December 2020 at @ngvmelbourne Triennial!

Refik Anadol, Ted Talk: Art in the age of machine intelligence  © Courtesy of the artist and Ted Talk.

About the Artist

Refik Anadol excels in site-specific public art composed with parametric data as sculpture, and live audio-visual performances that immerse the viewer.

His work explores the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture and media arts by using machine intelligence.

As a media artist, Anadol explores by the ways in which the transformation of the subject of contemporary culture requires a rethinking of a new aesthetic, technique and dynamic perception of space.

Key Achievements

Winning the 2019 Lumen Prize Gold Award, Melting Memories further distinguished Anadol as a pioneering technological artist and added to his list of honours. His other notable accolades include Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award (2013), SEGD Global Design awards (2016, 2018 and 2019) and Google’s first-ever Art and Machine Intelligence Residency Award (2017).

Anadol’s works have been exhibited across continents, including at Beijing’s National Museum of China, the Florence Biennale, Sydney City Art and the International Digital Arts Biennale Montreal.

A young artist already with an impressive track record, there is excitement around what themes and data set Anadol’s daring works will tackle next.

Past Shows and Fair Booths

Solo shows
2014 Refik Anadol: Cavity , RH Contemporary Art, New York

Group shows
2020 Centre Pompidou, Paris
2019 bitforms gallery, Los Angeles
Fair booths
2020 Frieze Art Fair Los Angeles
2019 Art Basel Miami Beach

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