In recent years, Refik Anadol has established himself as a leading figure in the digital art movement, engaging audiences in a way that few artists have through the power of emerging artists. technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and NFTs.
Collectors and international curators recognize his work. With over $30 million in NFT sales along with exhibitions in the world’s most respected art venues, Anadol unites the traditional realm of art with the developing world of tokenized digital artworks.
“We as artists are now mixing the digital with the physical, creating experiences that bridge the virtual and real worlds,” said Refik Anadol. Decrypt. “I believe that where the physical and virtual connect is where the most profound experience of art lies.”
In October, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City announced the claim Anadol’s piece, “Unsupervised – Machine Hallucinations,” marks an important milestone in art history. This piece not only stands as the museum’s inaugural “living artwork”, but is also the first to combine elements of NFT and AI into the esteemed collection.
CEBU through The New Yorker as “one of the most crowd-pleasing—and controversial—exhibitions in New York City,” this 24-foot-tall digital artwork not only captivates visitors inside the museum with its real-time environmental data- driven display but also earned a prominent place in MoMA’s Gund Lobby.
“It is a deep honor,” said Refik Anadol Decrypt to add to the museum’s permanent collection. “MoMA is one of the most important institutions in the world. If MoMA defines these decisions, it will be historic. In the last 200 years, all artists in the archive have been pioneers in certain fields and activities.”
Anadol recognizes the importance of this acquisition within the annals of art history, and its implications.
I am honored to announce that our artwork Unsupervised has been acquired by MoMA and is now in the museum’s permanent collection!
This acquisition marks a big milestone in the journey of our studio and also for digital art. It wrote a historical chapter as… pic.twitter.com/OyXjHP7DJt
– Refik Anadol (@refkanadol) October 11, 2023
“This is a recognition for the field of digital art – for those who use algorithms, software, hardware, sensors, and AI,” said Anadol. Decrypt. “The recognition from MoMA comes at an important time, with AI becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives.”
Using publicly available data from MoMA’s archives and responding to environmental cues such as weather and sound, “Unsupervised” features a vibrant interplay of colors and sounds, which are constantly changing. when in the presence of an observer.
Because of its extraordinary reception, the exhibition originally scheduled for a three-month run was extended four times, making it the longest showing in the history of the Museum of Modern Art before the work was officially acquired.
Public art powered by AI
Anadol started his journey in 2008, and coined the term “data painting.”
“The idea is to turn the information that surrounds us every day into material pigments that can be painted, carved, narrated, and transformed into creative results in various disciplines,” said Anadol. Decrypt.
In 2016, Refik Anadol’s career reached an important moment because he was selected for a Google residency, the first artist to receive such an honor. Collaborating with leading AI engineers, this residency set the foundation for the cutting-edge projects he is currently working on in his studio.
Refik Anadol and his team have built more than 20 permanent installations around the world, primarily promoting public art.
“We aim to continue creating worlds for humanity while exploring new ways to create AI-driven paintings, sculptures, performances, installations, and more,” Anadol said. Decrypt.
In September, Refik Anadol captured the attention of audiences with “Machine Hallucinations,” an installation cast in the massive 580,000-square-foot dome of the newly opened Sphere in Las Vegas. The display, featuring AI-generated data paintings, not only turned the dome into a monumental digital canvas but also set a new record as the largest AI artwork and the widest NFT display to date.
Dear friends, I am very honored to be part of the opening of The Sphere as the first resident artist of the legends U2 and Darren Aronofsky! I can’t wait to share more experiments with The Sphere. pic.twitter.com/sASp5VZjcM
– Refik Anadol (@refkanadol) October 2, 2023
Before that, he projection of Casa Batlló in Barcelona in May went viral on social media platforms. Through his evocative “Living Architecture” displayed on the façade, Anadol breathes modern life into Gaudi’s heritage, attracting a crowd of 65,000 spectators.
A year ago, the NFT of “Living Architecture” was auctioned at Christie’s in May 2022, fetching $1.38 million.
One of his most recent projects, which he is most proud of, is “Wind in Yawanawa.” This project consists of 1,000 AI-generated artworks created in collaboration with artists of the Yawanawa tribe in the Amazon.
“Our collaboration with the Yamanawa family represents a meeting of cultures and technologies,” Anadol said. Decrypt. “With their art and our AI-driven methods, we created 1,000 unique data paintings that reflect their culture and the environment they live in.”
Anadol’s team asked Yamanawa artists to draw their dreams, resulting in 13 paintings. They then feed their AI generative model the paintings to create the artwork. The project is a non-profit endeavor, with all proceeds going directly to the local community.
Dear friends, just finished an amazing time with our Yawanawa family in Brazil! Our sisters and young artists Nawashahu and Mukashahu painted beautiful works of art for Winds of Yawanawa! This project — it’s purpose and meaning is more! Thanks for being a part of it! pic.twitter.com/Wv9tsUHUfb
– Refik Anadol (@refkanadol) November 26, 2023
“We want to help them grow their culture and preserve their way of life in nature,” Anadol said. “It’s in a very special and respectful way that I call it a co-creation. We open a wallet for them and make the contract together, and we make sure that the family gets the commissions directly to their accounts”.
Secondary market sales now exceed $10 million, and resale royalties have helped build infrastructure in Yamanawa villages such as a school and cultural center, he said.
Understanding the audience
Anadol discovered blockchain early. He was in the Ethereum startup space and immediately understood the possibilities he could explore as an artist.
“The Web3 community has a special place in my heart,” Anadol said Decrypt. “It’s a vibrant culture full of new perspectives. Blockchain and Ethereum open new paths for creativity, and I was sure from the beginning that I wanted to be part of this movement.
Ever since then, he has been fascinated by the movement, admiring its vibrant and diverse culture.
“It’s there and it’s alive, full of colors,” Anadol said Decrypt. “And I like that new world. This is a fresh look at many perspectives. This is a technology that, I think, is very important. “
Meanwhile, while he thinks the recognition of institutions like MoMA should be seen as an “encouraging sign,” it also means the need to remain cautious.
“Currently, financial considerations seem to overshadow the underlying ideas, with a lot of financial jargon and strategies,” Anadol said. Decrypt. “Cultivating and nurturing this culture is important, and educating the mindset of collectors is a unique challenge. However, I have observed the understanding, support, and sense of community. The amount of creativity and brilliant minds are rare.
In the future, Anadol hopes to understand in a scientific way how his art affects the audience. Again, he will rely on the data. His team recently conducted a study at MoMA to quantify the brain data of individuals observing art.
“I hope that we will soon understand the intricate nuances of MoMA’s AI-tokenized artwork and its profound impact on the human psyche,” Anadol said. Decrypt.
His last wish?
“Bring joy, and give hope to the people,” he affirmed.
Edited by Andrew Hayward