Refik Anadol sparks conversation about machine intelligence at Kraftwerk Berlin

Turkish artist Refik Anadol takes us on a journey through the possibilities that lie within the realm of machine intelligence through a powerful audiovisual installation, Latent Being.

by Shraddha Nair Feb 12, 2020

In the making of Latent Being, a recent work by Refik Anadol, the concept of machine intelligence plays the role of both muse and media. Curated by Light Art Space (LAS), this immersive, audiovisual presentation was the inaugural show by the non-profit art foundation, as well as Anadol’s first solo exhibition in Germany.

Anadol uses the massive scale of Kraftwerk Berlin, a building which formerly housed a power plant, as a theatric setting for his installation, which employs machine-learning algorithms to simultaneously process large volumes of digital data and track visitors’ movement patterns in real-time. In this context, the structure holds space not only as a venue for the artwork to be experienced but also as a method to pool in an audience to generate the artwork itself.

A close look at the algorithm-generated visuals conceptualised by Anadol | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
A close look at the algorithm-generated visuals conceptualised by Anadol Image Credit: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

Anadol’s practice has long since been guided by a fascination towards interactions between man and machine and this exhibition serves as a furtherance of this exploration. With a monumental LED screen mounted on the interior facade opposite to the entrance of the space, Latent Being explores the aesthetics, which lie at the convergence of human interaction and machine intelligence. The multi-sensory installation looks specifically to artificial intelligence as a creative medium with boundaries that are as yet unknown. It uses visuals and sounds associated with the city of Berlin as a placeholder to experiment with ideas of machine-generated memories and real-time audience patterns to explore AI-produced responsiveness.

With Latent Being, Anadol challenges our perception of space and our relationship with AI machines | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
With Latent Being, Anadol challenges our perception of space and our relationship with AI machines Image Credit: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

Anadol uses these layered sets of data points to render these ‘data paintings’ onto the LED screen, creating these machine-made hallucinations of recognisable monuments and locations in Berlin. Cities are a rich source of inspiration for Anadol, as seen in past works like Machine Hallucination, which he created in collaboration with ARTECHOUSE where his team collected over 100 million images of New York City.

Similarly, Anadol uses images of Berlin to uncover layers of the city as if it were an organism made up of memories, emotions and stories. The sheer scale of the installation coupled with the psychedelic quality of the imaging creates a powerful experience for the viewer. The work also invites the viewer to contemplate the way in which our perception of time, space and movement has been changing rapidly as a result of the refinement of AI technologies.

The installation has algorithms creating a data-driven immersive fantasy of Berlin and tracking visitors to shape the work | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
The installation has algorithms creating a data-driven immersive fantasy of Berlin and tracking visitors to shape the work Image Credit: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

The installation Latent Being by Turkish artist Refik Anadol was inaugurated on November 23, 2019 and was on display at Kraftwerk Berlin till January 5, 2020. Through the duration of the exhibition, the itinerary incorporated an artist talk with Anadol as well as events where two other artists performed installations developed around the concept of artificial intelligence.

01 min watch Commissioned by LAS (light art space), Refik Anadol’s audiovisual installation Latent Being | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
Commissioned by LAS (light art space), Refik Anadol’s audiovisual installation Latent Being Video Credit: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

Anadol’s artistic practice spearheads the exploration of the convergence of machine intelligence, its aesthetic capabilities and human interaction. Anadol’s style of ‘data painting’ using algorithm generated visuals scaled large is a recognisable aesthetic - one with sophistication and flair, with a keen inclination towards understanding the human experience in today’s digital age.

Refik Anadol Studio is a unique medley of a range of prominent industry professionals from architects and engineers to software developers and designers who work in collaboration to realise Anadol’s creative vision. His work investigates the newly developing dynamics between man and machine and creates stunningly impressing audiovisual experiences in the process. He has worked with the finest teams across the world like Google, IBM, Nvidia, Epson, Microsoft and many more on site-specific installations and immersive art pieces.

Latent Being responds to the cathedral-like concrete vastness of Kraftwerk Berlin, a former power plant | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
Latent Being responds to the cathedral-like concrete vastness of Kraftwerk Berlin, a former power plant Image Credit: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

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About Author

Shraddha Nair

Shraddha Nair

Nair is a writer and curator based in Bengaluru, India. She graduated from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She believes that art is the real community influencer, and that it has immense capacity to change the way people feel and behave. Nair works as a writer and curator while promoting artists and artwork through Instagram.

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