He is 38 years old, was born in Istanbul but lives in Los Angeles, where he runs a studio made up of architects, musicians, computer scientists and scientists, and is one of the most prominent creators of digital art today. Refik Anadol is a pioneer in using artificial intelligence to create living works that feed on data and whose objective, he confesses, is to build “a collective memory of humanity.” He is the author of Living Architecture: Casa Batlló, mapping inspired by Gaudí’s façade, which in April of last year brought together 47,000 people and which will be screened again this Friday starting at 9:30 p.m.
mirror of the world
“It is a very powerful tool and can be very dangerous, but also very useful”
He is the first artist to work with AI. What has he learned as a person from the machine?
In 2016 I was invited to do a residency, and as an artist they allowed me to work with any algorithm, with incredible computing. I felt like a kid playing in the Playground with all the tools at my fingertips. But my goal with artificial intelligence is to find the language of humanity. From the first day I felt like an artist, my hope has been to find a common language for anyone of any age and any culture. I didn’t know then that AI would be the perfect tool to achieve this.
Shouldn’t we then listen to those who warn of its dangers?
No, no, it’s very powerful and can be very dangerous, but it’s also very useful. It is a perfect mirror of the world. But I have to be very careful when I work with her, with my intentions, my desires, my imagination. What I find inspiring is that concept of art for everyone. If you think of a normal artist working with a brush, his tool doesn’t change, just the ideas. With artificial intelligence, ideas change and the tool changes every morning. And that gives incredible energy and motivation, because it is an art that is relevant at the same time in the past, in the present and in the future. What I am always looking for is to find those elements that connect us and remind us of who we are. The collective memory of humanity.
“The NFT of the Batlló house was auctioned for 1.38 million, today it would surely be worth more
And to do this, he creates immense pictorial frescoes, sculptures or immersive installations from data collected, whether from brain scans of memories or dreams, from the collection of works of a museum such as Moma or from NASA archives, such as Machine Memoirs. : Spac e, the piece that is now exhibited at the Disseny Hub as part of the Digital Impact exhibition.
Yes, indeed, my goal is the global memories of humanity. I try to call attention to these memories, not for someone to consume privately, but to share and make them public.
However, the internet has become something of a wild West of data. They track what we eat, what we say, the places we go…
We leave our memories behind us, what we read, what we watch, what we like… And then our memories become artificial intelligence that comes back to us. Did we ever agree that this was the case? I’m not sure, but that’s how it works. And my approach as an artist is that we have the possibility to train our own AI models, which is not easy or comfortable but it is possible. I was recently in Iceland in minus 40 degrees and walked 80 kilometers with a very heavy backpack for ten days. I recorded images, sound and even the scent of the glaciers, and with all that I have trained my own model. The possibility exists for artists who are not comfortable with what is out there.
Is digital art a humanist art?
Yes, in my practice I always try to find the human in the non-human. And that’s where empathy and emotion come from. Algorithms, hardware, software… all of this is cold, it has no soul, it has no emotions, but it is a 50/50 collaboration and beauty, inspiration and hope reside in this man-machine co-creation.
A year ago his NFT Living Architecture: Casa Batlló, inspired by the façade of Gaudí’s building, was auctioned for 1.38 million dollars. Would it reach that number today? Has the bubble burst?
I think it would be worth a lot more now. Certainly not all NFTs have value, but some works increase in value over time and this is one of them. Projections like the one that took place in Barcelona allow us to be together again, something very important in a world that leads us to the individuality of screens or virtual reality glasses. Museums and galleries are important, but I started in the streets and what continues to move me is the idea of art open to everyone.