Meanwhile, in Refik-land

Saturday 30th December, 2023 - Bruce Sterling

Welcome to the latest edition of the Refik Anadol Studio newsletter. 2023 has been our biggest year yet with exhibition openings all around the world. Below is a recap of some of the major milestones and a round-up of the incredible places we’ve had the opportunity to show our work.

Refik Anadol Studio’s Unsupervised was acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York in October, 2023. After a year of greeting visitors in the Museum’s Gund Lobby, the artwork is now in MoMA’s permanent collection! This acquisition marks a grand milestone in our own journey, but also for digital art. It inscribes a historic chapter as MoMA welcomes the first Generative AI and tokenized artwork into its esteemed collection. We are infinitely grateful to curators Michelle Kuo, Paola Antonelli, and Stuart Comer for their wisdom and the entire MoMA team’s genuine support and collaboration since the beginning of the project. We are also profoundly thankful to our collectors, Ryan Zurrer, Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, and Desiree Casoni, and NVIDIA for supporting our journey. We want to thank New York and all of those who supported Unsupervised which has brought over 2.5 million visitors joy, inspiration, and hope!

Refik Anadol was chosen to be the first artist in residence of Sphere, Las Vegas’ newest spectacular arts and entertainment venue. This architectural and engineering marvel is one of the most inspiring digital canvases in the world and perfectly aligns with our vision of the future of media architecture. Debuting in September, Machine Hallucinations – Sphere, an immersive experience that simulates the rhythms of various urban and nature environments around Las Vegas, is currently on view.

Refik Anadol Studio’s latest NFT art collection: Winds of Yawanawa stems from an unprecedented and ongoing cultural collaboration between our studio and the Yawanawa community. Winds of Yawanawa is a collection of 1000 unique Data Paintings that harness weather data from the tribe’s village in the Amazon rainforest including wind speed, gusts, direction and temperature. This data then merges with the works of young Yawanawa artists, resulting in a mesmerizing play of traditional shapes, forms, textures and colors. The collection not only brought the uniqueness of Yawanawa art to the world, with the aim of preserving their divine culture, but also raised significant funds which were donated directly to the Yawanawa people. We are deeply grateful to Chief Nixiwaka, Putanny and IskuKua and our partners Impact One and Scorpios for their help in bringing this important project to life.

The iconic facade of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló lit up again with Refik Anadol Studio’s multisensory art installation, Living Architecture: Casa Batlló, produced in collaboration with the Fundació Barcelona Promoció. More than 65,000 people gathered on site, transforming the façade of Casa Batlló into an extraordinary dialogue between AI, architecture, music, and media art. We honored the genius of Gaudí by using his incredible facade of Casa Batlló as a canvas, and his entire life’s work as a dataset. We felt the love and power of the people of Barcelona, as the event was a true public art, free of charge and welcoming to all.

Living Paintings, Refik Anadol’s first major solo exhibition in Los Angeles, was on display at Jeffrey Deitch from February 14, 2023 – April 29, 2023. The exhibition showcased a complete series of Anadol’s major artworks, including his latest AI Data Paintings based on California-related datasets. Merging collective memories of urban life and nature with groundbreaking machine learning and visualization technologies, Living Paintings invited a poetic and futuristic contemplation of purposeful human-machine collaborations.

Refik once again shared the stage, this time in-person, with other brilliant minds at TED2023 in Vancouver, Canada. Touching on the main topic of “Possibility,” Refik shared a brief talk highlighting our studio’s most recent projects, then finished by revealing our ambitious AI rainforest research project in collaboration with the Yawanawa community. Check it out here.

The first major project of 2023 was commissioned by the World Economic Forum in Davos – Artificial Realities: Coral, an AI Data Sculpture based on approximately one hundred million images of coral processed with our new generative AI models including sound and scent. This piece emerged from our 3 years-long research on the preservation and sustainability of coral reefs, and lies at the intersection of environmental studies and AI aesthetics. With this multi-disciplinary project, we aim to one day utilize groundbreaking data visualization and machine learning methods to create 3D printed AI Data Sculptures for underwater universes that perfectly resemble coral found in nature and help restore ecosystems in the oceans. Refik was the first Generative AI artist to show his work at the WEF, and the partnership continues at WEF 2024.

Infinity Room: Bosphorus is an artwork in the permanent collection of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art that transforms the collective, climatic, and cultural memories of the city’s iconic Bosphorus Strait. Based on a dynamic dataset representing the real-time weather conditions of Bosphorus, the installation aims to reveal all of its visible and invisible colors, creating a hypnotizing palimpsest of what it has been and what it could become in our imaginations.

For the 2023 Fashion Week in Paris, Refik Anadol Studio collaborated with luxury brand Dior who hosted our J’Adore AI Data Sculpture as part of the Exhibition L’Or de J’adore. The event invited visitors to discover the new interpretation of Dior’s iconic fragrance by Francis Kurkdjian. Perpetuating the links that bring together the House of Dior and artists from all around the world, Refik Anadol began the creative vision behind this artwork by meeting with Kurkdjian. The long-term collaboration was based on a dataset that compiled the fragrance’s floral composition formulas, resulting in a hypnotic artwork that displayed dynamic, liquid gold patterns imagined by artificial intelligence.

2023 saw Refik Anadol Studio artworks shown throughout Europe including major exhibitions at Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, MOCO Museum of Barcelona, and ARKEN Museum. For Kunstpalast Düsseldorf the exhibition featured Satellite Simulations, an AI Data Painting utilizing over 2 million images that were captured and recorded by the ISS, Hubble, and MRO telescopes and other sensors and satellites – the largest space-related dataset ever used to train a generative adversarial network (GAN) for an artwork. MOCO Museum of Barcelona displayed The Nature Series, three signature works based on millions of publicly available images of and from the earth challenging our perception of nature and technology by blurring the lines between physical and digital worlds. At ARKEN’s exhibition titled Refik Anadol – Nature Dreams, the highlight was Winds of Denmark (2023), a new artwork based on meteorological data collected from the museum’s unique location in Ishøj Beach Park.

2023 will close with Refik Anadol Studio’s first solo exhibition in Rotterdam, at Kunsthal Rotterdam, which opened on November 18. Due to popular demand, the exhibition, titled Living Paintings: Nature has been extended through April 1, 2024. It combines three of our largest nature-inspired works based on unique data sets consisting of millions of images of California Parks and environmental details such as wind velocity, wind direction and temperature. In February, 2024, Refik Anadol Studio will open its first exhibition at Serpentine Galleries in London, UK. It will feature two site-specific artworks: the premiere of a new work inspired by rainforests, and an AI Data Sculpture raising awareness about coral reefs based on a simulation of the ocean environment.