Into the data wonderland with Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol

What it means to be a human in the age of AI? Get into the fast-moving world of Data and Artificial Intelligence through the works of Refik Anadol, internationally renowned media artist, director, and pioneer in the aesthetics of machine intelligence.

Refik Anadol
Refik Anadol
Refik Anadol


Refik Anadol (Istanbul, 1985) is a Turkish designer and media artist. He graduated in 2008 in Visual Communication Design at Istanbul Bilgi University. He uses art, technology, and architecture, through data driven algorithms and artificial intelligence, to create immersive installations that blur the boundaries between physical and digital realms.

“I collaborate with machines to make building dream and hallucinating”.

He founded his Studio involving artists, architects, data scientists, and researchers from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, from ten different countries. Their research is focused on space and the domains of artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and architecture.

 Refik Anadol explores the relationship between humans and machines. Using AI and data he creates interactive works, transforming physical spaces into immersive environments.

“Peter Weibel pushed me to start computing and using data as a substance”.

The Austrian artist and new media theoretician Peter Weibel was a mentor for Refik Anadol, during his studies at KMZ Arts and Media Centre in Karlsruhe, Germany, challenging him to put the name “Data Paintings” in 2008.

“It is easy to predict the future! How? When you make the future!” (P. Weibel)

Refik Anadol artistic journey started in 2008 when he created his first audio-visual performance “Quadrature” at the Santralistanbul Contemporary Art Museum, made with the software VVVV. In 2010 with his first work “Quadrangle” at SANAA’s School of Design Building in Essen, he understood that architecture is much more inspiring when it goes beyond concrete, steel, and glass, and making the invisible visible, seeing through the glass and concrete.

The idea of being human in the age of technology is increasingly becoming something very unique, and for Refik Anadol physical and virtual connection stimulate him as an artist. His research practice is centred around discovering and developing approaches to data narratives and what it means to be a human in the age of AI.

“Data is not just a number, it is a form of memory, and this memory can take any shape, form, color, and textures”.

For him the future coming to us is “co-creation”, making art for everyone. Bringing art to the streets, embedding media arts into architecture, and focusing on public art, through AI data paintings and sculptures seen developed in numerous of his projects: “Visions of America: Amériques” (Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, 2014), “Virtual Depictions: San Francisco” (2015), “Wind of Istanbul: Data Paintings” (2017), “Archive Dreaming” (Istanbul, 2017), “Melting Memories” (Istanbul, 2018), WDCH Dreams: LA Phil Centennial (2018), “Interconnected: CLT” (Los Angeles, 2019), “Bosphorus: Data Sculpture” (Istanbul, 2019), “Virtual Applique: Beverly Center” (Los Angeles, 2019), “Fotografiska: Latent History” (Stockholm, 2019), “Infinite Space” (Washington, 2019), “Machine Hallucination” (New York, 2019), “Latent Being” (Berlin, 2019), “Seoul Light: Seoul Haemong” (2019), “Data Crystal” (Oregon, 2020), “Frieze LA: Studio Open House” (Los Angeles, 2020), “Infinity Room – Quantum Dreams” (Los Angeles, 2020), “TED TALK: Art in the age of Machine Intelligence” (Vancouver, 2020), “Augmented Perspectives – XR Data Paintings” (Los Angeles, 2020), “Symphonic Dreams – Philadelphia Orchestra” (2020), “Renaissance Dreams” (Milan, 2020 and Florence, 2022) .

Art should not be only in museum venues but everywhere (library, hospital, university, streets), no tickets, no borders. When you walk along the street there is no end, no ceiling, no doors, removing all barriers.

AI and generative AI with their tools can’t be understood without artistic questions:

“Information, Knowledge, Wisdom. I learned so much about technology because as a designer and artist you become responsible for the tools you create: fiber cables, music, algorithms, everything becomes the narrative, the discourse, the context. It’s a big responsibility but it brings a value across the countries”.

In the project designed for the MoMA of New York, “Unsupervised” (2022), he applied artificial intelligence technologies to contemporary art. Images of all the works of the museum collection interacted with what was happening in real time inside MoMA, through a camera placed on the ceiling of the hall, elaborating two types of data: movement of the visitors and weather conditions, generating a new perception of the experience shared on a huge screen. MoMA seen through the mind of a machine.

Within the public art and experiential NFTs (non-fungible token), Refik Anadol created in 2022 Gaudì “Living Architecture” a generative artwork on the façade of the Antoni Gaudì’s building Casa Batllò (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Barcelona. The iconic architecture of the Catalan architect was used like a canvas, with sixty-five thousand people filling the Paseo de Gracia to live a unique experience.

“The challenge with AI is not to mimic art masterpieces but to create new ways of generating fantasy hallucinations”.

Dataland” is his next challenging project: a space where data becomes an experience, a place where ethical AI collects the memories of humanity.

Refik Anadol’s global projects have received several awards and prizes and have been featured at iconic landmarks, museums, and festivals worldwide such as 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, MoMA, The Centre Pompidou, Art Basel, Palazzo Strozzi, Casa Batlló, Daejeon Museum of Art, Arken Museum, National Gallery of Victoria amongst many others.


Refik Anadol was guest of our “Disrupting Pattern Talks”, the series of talks by Domus Academy dedicated to prominent figures from the world of design, fashion, art and new media art, to inspire our students with insights and tips.

Watch the full video and revive the talk!


Find out how the practice of design might evolve in response to AI and emerging future scenarios. Check out this article!

Refik Anadol
Refik Anadol

“The challenge with AI is not to mimic art masterpieces but to create new ways of generating fantasy hallucinations”.

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