Refik Anadol, media artist and director from Istanbul, Turkey. Photography © Efsun Erkilic
1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
I am a media artist using data as a pigment and painting with a thinking brush. Me and my team are developing ideas on many scales here in Los Angeles. I started using my imagination back when I was eight years-old when I watched the movie Blade Runner and since then I haven’t stopped imagining the future.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
My favorite museums are all over the world. I’m inspired by many museums in Europe, including some of the traditional/conventional ones like the Louvre Museum, but I really like museums that are pushing contemporary art.
The first country I visited in Europe was Germany, so the Pinakothek der Moderne was one of the most inspiring buildings that I saw and I’m still inspired by the minimal design of the building. And, also from a cultural point of view, LACMA and of course MoMA, the Whitney, Guggenheim, these are strongly inspiring spaces.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why?
Social networks are the places where we leave our memories, so they are more important than ever. Yes, we are the products of these systems, but they are also a way of remembering and learning. So, I learn and remember by using these systems, and I enjoy using social media such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
I mainly use Instagram because it’s the way I connect with my largest audience and the most intimate communication with people all around the world. People can send me a message about how they feel about my artwork and with each other about their best day in their life, or their worst day in their life – the most emotional moments in their lives.
Facebook is mostly my real friends that I engage with. LinkedIn is sometimes a boring place where everything is business, but suddenly when you put in art, people are excitedly enjoying the content. And Twitter is more like my nerd friends where I connect with the engineers and the people who are inventing the tools and algorithms.
4.What are your future projects?
Renaissance is our current focus. After working on many cultural archives, we were recently commissioned by an Italian cultural foundation that allowed us to use all of the Renaissance paintings, sculptures, and architectural and literature data sets.
So we are currently training our AI to dream about Renaissance, which resulted in our new AI data painting series, Renaissance Dreams. Additionally, we are working in Asia and also in Europe, with different cultural archives. But, we are very much in the thick of trying to understand how we can use AI, and now also quantum computing, in as fresh of a way as possible.
5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
Yes, I think museums should really push the boundaries of imagination. They really need to engage with technology, art and science all together at the same time.
I don’t think museums should only think about the connection with the past, but it’s their time to really let us imagine the future by imbedding an artistically complex discourse in the context of science and technology at the same time. Otherwise museums will be a place of the past, not future.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Established in 2014 by Refik Anadol (Istanbul, 1985), a pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence, Refik Anadol Studio produces enthralling and immersive media art intended for anyone, any age and any background. The award-winning studio has been engaged by leading tech companies, groundbreaking researchers and cutting-edge thought leaders to produce projects that have been shown in over 50 cities, spanning six continents, and experienced by millions of ardent fans.
The studio’s body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines. In taking the data that flows around us as the primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as a collaborator, Anadol and his team paint with a thinking brush, offering us radical visualizations of our digitized memories and expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion.
The site-specific AI data sculptures, live audio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many forms, while encouraging us to rethink our engagement with the physical world, its temporal and spatial dimensions, and the creative potential of machines. Refik Anadol is based between Istanbul and Los Angeles.