The Digital Dreamcaster
Turkish-American digital artist Refik Anadol’s data-driven art is everywhere these days. It’s at the MoMA in New York, at the Casa Batlló in Barcelona, at Zaha Hadid’s DDP Building in Seoul, and on the outisde of the new Sphere in Las Vegas. Why? His A.I.-generated hallucinations can be created from literally any collection of data: a museum’s art collection, a building’s visual timeline — from initial sketches to social media captures — or an entire city’s collective history gathered from public data. As an artist, Refik has always been interested in the intersection of art and technology, embracing rather than fearing the digitization of everything. But, while his first works merely responded to data and stimuli, his latest projects with the help of Google, absorb, process and dream up something altogether new.
The New York installation of Refik Anadol’s Machine Hallucinations series, Unsupervised, takes MoMA’s catalog of art and uses A.I. to bend it into what may be the next chapter of modern masterpieces. It’s a technique he’s been iterating and perfecting since collaborating with Google in 2018 on WDCH Dreams. An extension of his Master of Fine Arts thesis, the project imagines what would happen if a Frank Gehry-designed building could think and dream. Another famous structure, Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Battlo in Barcelona, got the Refik treatment as well with Living Architecture, a dynamic A.I. data sculpture projected on the UNESCO World Heritage site. And in Vegas, Refik was first artist to “paint” on the “exosphere” of Sphere — creating what he describes as a “one of the most Blade Runner moments ever” — on the brand-new $2B performance megavenue at the Venetian.