Refik Anadol’s ‘Machine Hallucinations’ illuminates Noor Riyadh

Monitoring Desk

ISTANBUL: As Noor Riyadh’s “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition traces the role of light in the lives of humankind, “Machine Hallucinations — Space” by media artist Refik Anadol creates an immersive environment, stepping into the heart of the machine

The works of media artist Refik Anadol have started to illuminate the world in many prestigious exhibitions as we see his name in Sotheby’s auctions. This time, he brought light to the city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia with technology and art with his latest installation.

Bringing together artists from 40 different countries, the citywide annual festival of light and art, Noor Riyadh Light and Art Festival kicked off with the theme of “We Dream of New Horizons” this year. Over 190 artworks and installations featured at the festival illuminated the city of Riyadh and transformed Riyadh evenings into dazzling nights. Site-specific installations, monumental public works of art, temporary sculptures, art trails, virtual reality, building projections and drone shows attracted the attention of art lovers.

Having hosted some of the world’s leading artists using technology, machine intelligence, digital innovations, data narratives and artificial intelligence (AI) to nurture creativity, offering awe-inspiring experiences, one of the most dazzling pieces in the event belonged to Refik Anadol from Türkiye.

Immersive installation

Refik Anadol’s immersive, multichannel installation “Machine Hallucinations – Space” is presented to art goers as part of Noor Riyadh’s From Spark to Spirit exhibition in the Jax District, one of the newly developed creative districts of the city. Visitors will be immersed in the work, within a room with floor-to-ceiling screens showing “a shared dream” created by the machine, based on recorded visual impressions of Riyadh.

Throughout the process, Anadol produced a generative network model on public photos of Riyadh collected from social media platforms and digital image archives to create his work. In this study, the city’s data universe is processed in more than a thousand hidden dimensions through machine learning. Regarding his work, Anadol said, “Building in an immersive environment creates an environment where we can step into the mind of a machine.”

Anadol’s “Machine Hallucinations – Space” has appeared as a product of his long-term research of the photographic history of space exploration. Having employed advanced machine learning algorithms trained on photographs of deep space, the piece opens a door to the unknown.

Installation of artwork Amplexus by artist Grimanesa Amoros in DQ in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 27, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Nour Riyadh Festival)
Installation of artwork Amplexus by artist Grimanesa Amoros in DQ in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 27, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Nour Riyadh Festival)

Light influences, transforms views

Curated by Neville Wakefield and co-curator Gaida al-Mogren, the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition specifically traces the role of light in the lives of humankind within the frame of how it shapes our relationship with the world, how some participating artists use light to depict the progress and evolution of technology and how light affects and changes our views of the environment we live in.

Within this frame, Anadol’s work uses machine intelligence as a collaborator of human consciousness to reveal its unrecognized layers, offering a new form of sensational autonomy through cybernetic coincidence.

Born in Istanbul and currently living in Los Angeles, Refik Anadol runs a studio and research practice that aims to renew approaches to data narratives by formulating alternative realities with the help of architectural elements. In his work, the artist builds a bridge between the virtual and the physical with his three-dimensional data sculptures that allow the audience to be surrounded by the visual language of the digital world.

Memory as spatial

Just as the “Light and Space Movement,” which began in California in the 1960s and influenced by John McLaughlin, makes the spectator’s experience of light and other sensory phenomena under specific conditions, reflecting the changes in the established order, this exhibition explores a landscape of light influenced by the rapid cultural transformations that have shaped the Middle East.

As part of the exhibition, “Machine Hallucinations – Space” captures the essence of this transformation and change. Anadol explores how memory can be experienced spatially and uses AI technologies to find a way to mimic how our memories and dreams work in vivid, layered and seemingly impulsive, and random ways. In a world illuminated by ever-changing technologies and innovative techniques using light, his works refer to the unique property of light and its luminosity that allows all to perceive and project hopes and dreams into this world.

The visitors will have a chance to be part of this unique experience until Friday.

Courtesy: Dailysabah