To corporations in industries, from fossil fuels to finance, giant stashes of data are valuable assets. For artists, Refik Anadol pools of data are something else – material which he calls a new kind of “sculpture.”Refik Anadol creates a mesmerizing art installation. He seeks out interesting data sets and processes them into swirling visualizations of how computers capture people and the world in it. He uses techniques from artificial intelligence. Primarily, the artist uses machine learning algorithms for filtering or expanding on his material.
The results use data points in a kind of artificial intelligence pointillism. Anadol’s masterpieces are shown on giant screens or are projected onto entire buildings or walls. He shows us his vision of the future. The Anadol was always speculating with the idea of whether data can become a pigment or not. Nevertheless, as an artist, he is trying to find an algorithm that can narrate the moment of data. In other words, to make invisible moments visible. Enormous data sets inspire most of Anadol’s art. He uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to create visualizations that he calls data sculptures.
In Refik Anadol’s surreal installations, it is easy to get lost. But if someone will dig deeper, he/she will realize his work is made up of millions of tiny pieces. Every little single point represents a piece of data that he has fed through a neural network.
Artificial intelligence in Art
Anadol made a new WIRED video where he explains his creative process. It features works, including the Machine Hallucination. It’s a 360-degree video installation from 10 million New York photos. The artists used machine learning to morph and group photos between them. He created flickering images of the city as recorded by various people. He says that it is a collective memory. From different times of the year, from multiple angles, a building in New York can be explored.
The artists used his sculptures of data to look inside the human brain. Once, he discovered that his uncle couldn’t recognize him because of the onset of Alzheimer’s. The artist teamed up with neuroscientists to try to gather a new source of data. He said he thought of the most private and most precious information that humanity had.
Neuroscientists used a hat studded with electrodes to capture the activity of people’s brains, reflecting childhood memories. Then Anadol turned this data into hypnotically moving fluids, which was then displayed on a 20-foot-tall LED screen.
The themes of Anadol’s work represents the tension and symbiosis between machines and people. He says that his work is an example of how artificial intelligence (and other technologies as well) will have a broad and various range of uses. When humanity found fire, they used it in multiple ways. They created communities and cooked with it. However, with the same fire, they can also destroy or kill each other. The same can be said about artificial intelligence. It has the potential of building communities or destroying them, says the artist. People should be conscientious when working the machine-learning algorithms.
That is how technology and art can be combined.