Art through AI’s interpretation

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“I view machines as collaborators and [I] push the boundaries of what is possible by utilizing data in a poetic way.”


Refik Anadol

In an era marked by a growing fascination with artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on our daily lives, one artist boldly embraces its potential. Refik Anadol, the creative mind behind the captivating installation “Unsupervised,” which recently concluded its year-long residency at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), harnessed the rich 200-year tapestry of art data from MoMA’s archives. Part of his “Machine Hallucinations” series, this remarkable artwork tapped into MoMA’s historical treasure trove using a carefully curated algorithm. The result? A mesmerizing display of ever-changing images projected onto a towering 24-foot screen in the museum’s lobby, a dynamic creation that unfolded in real time, ensuring no repetition in its 11-month stint at MoMA. Anadol’s ingenuity shines through as he trained a sophisticated machine-learning model to wander through the digital galleries of MoMA’s collection, reimagining the history of modern art and conjuring a vibrant array of dreams. But what sets “Unsupervised” apart is its responsiveness to the environment – shifts in light, motion, acoustics, and even the weather all influence the evolving imagery and sound it produces. This installation remained consistently captivating, evoking fascination, intrigue, and delight throughout its MoMA residency.

Pioneering the Art of AI, Data, and Technology

Refik Anadol, originally from Turkey but now based in Los Angeles, is a trailblazing figure in the realm of new media art, despite his self-identification as a painter. For the better part of the past decade, Anadol has been been creating installations challenging the intersection of art, science, and technology. The results are creations that are often massive in scale, mesmerizing in their effect, and deeply thought-provoking. His innovative works have made significant contributions to the ongoing dialogue about the profound implications of artificial intelligence in the arts environment. Anadol’s award-winning pieces have earned prominent placements in iconic landmarks, museums, and festivals worldwide. Landing a commission from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the United States’ preeminent institution for modern art, stands as a remarkable milestone for any artist. To achieve this distinction before the age of 40 solidified Anadol’s status as a leading pioneer in the realm of generative AI art. Reflecting on this achievement, Anadol exclaims, “I first visited MoMA in 2011. It’s truly incredible to now have my work featured here, one of the very first things that greets visitors.”

He was an early adopter of blockchain technology and made history by being the first to incorporate artificial intelligence into a public artwork, exemplified by “Unsupervised.” Together with his team of artists, data scientists, and esteemed researchers, he employs datasets as his palette and machines as his artistic tools, crafting radical visualizations of digitized memories. By harnessing the data that swirls around us as his primary medium and enlisting a computerized mind as a creative collaborator, Anadol crafts breathtaking aesthetics from vast data troves. What was once hidden from human sight becomes visible, presenting novel perspectives for all to behold.

Breaking Records

Inevitably, Anadol, known for celebrating the creative potential of computer wizardry, embarked on a journey into the realm of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In late 2021, he joined forces with the esteemed auction house Sotheby’s in Hong Kong as part of the Digital Art Fair Asia to mint the latest installment of his ongoing Machine Hallucinations series. What made this auction truly special were the eight NFTs created by Anadol, drawing inspiration from over two million space images captured by the International Space Station and Magdalena Ridge Observatory telescopes. These digital masterpieces aimed to capture the dreams of the universe as envisioned by these high-flying telescopes. The result was nothing short of astonishing, with the collection selling for a jaw-dropping $5 million. Anadol’s achievement didn’t stop there; he etched his name into the record books, setting a new Asian milestone for the most expensive NFT collection ever sold by a single artist.

The Future

AI typically excels at dealing with real-life stuff, making things seem true to life. However, when it comes to Refik Anadol’s work, like his mesmerizing “Unsupervised” and his whole collection, AI takes a wild ride into the world of imagination, dreams, and all things utterly crazy. Anadol’s artistic journey is an exciting one, no doubt! He’s like the artist who’s pushing AI to its limits. Think of technology as the modern answer to what photography did for art – it’s a tool that lets us discover a fresh way to engage with and admire the wonders of reality. We’re here to explore, create, and marvel at the beauty of the world in a whole new light. Anadol is certainly an artist to watch! Technology is here to do what Photography did for art: create a new way to interact and admire the beauties of reality.

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