Refik Anadol on scaling new heights

Media artist Refik Anadol has displayed his mammoth AI-generated pieces on some of the world’s most famous buildings and has work in MoMA New York’s permanent collection. He talks to us about his latest exhibition in London and navigating the endless debates about his work

“AI was always my target. It’s not something that popped up in my journey randomly,” says Refik Anadol, one of the foremost figures blending art and machine intelligence today. “Playing with games and computers at an early age, you know that one day, the machine can become your friend, your collaborator.”

It’s a philosophy that the Istanbul-born, LA-based media artist has maintained throughout his working life. “To me, AI is a tool that allows me to create a new collaborator that doesn’t forget, that remembers billions of points, and millions of whatever information I’m looking for, to be used as a pigment, as a form, as a sculpture, as a story.”

Anadol had been working with machine intelligence long before it spilled into the mainstream. He began to use computer programming to make art back in 2008, the year he says he coined the term ‘data painting’, and since then has worked at the intersection of visual media, data, and emergent technologies.

Image of the exterior of the Sphere in Las Vegas showing a colourful AI visualisation by Refik Anadol
Top: Unsupervised at MoMA New York; Above: Machine Hallucinations: Sphere, an AI visualisation based on archives of nature and space imagery, displayed on the exterior of the Sphere in Las Vegas; All images: © Refik Anadol Studio