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Radical Visualizations
By Refik Anadol*

“Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it. A simulation is that which doesn’t stop when the stories go away. Stories are responsible to our human desire for resolution, but a simulation is responsible only to its own laws and initializing conditions. A simulation has no moral, prejudice, or meaning. Like nature, it just is.”
—Philip K. Dick


The relationship between simulation, reality, and the quest for understanding is largely a reflexive one. In the stories we tell and the worlds we build, we continually construct mirrors that offer meditations on our identity while simultaneously becoming a part of nature itself.

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By Refik Anadol

“Interconnected” is a digital artwork that portrays the hidden troves of operational data at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) as an ever-changing suite of abstract form, color, and simulated texture. The data feeds that drive the artwork include global and regional air-traffic tracking software, airline flight information (arrivals/departures), baggage handling systems, and parking and ground shuttle transportation throughout the airport campus. The artwork is synchronized and displayed across three high-definition LED Media Walls in addition to a series of programmable LED ribbons embedded into the architecture of Concourse A. “Interconnected” is organized into three distinct visual chapters: Chapter I–Fluid Structures, Chapter II–Impossible Materials, and Chapter III–Data Poems. Shifting formal variations within each chapter reflect real-time responses to the dynamic flow of data, creating a living snapshot of the data management systems that enable CLT to serve over 44.4 million travelers annually.

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By Refik Anadol

“Bosphorus” is a data sculpture inspired by high frequency radar data collections of the Marmara Sea provided by the Turkish State Meteorological Service in 30-minute intervals. The data collection of 30 days of sea surface activity is transformed into a poetic experience and visualized on a 12x3 meter-long LED media wall.

The artwork was exhibited at the Pilevneli Gallery in Istanbul, Turkey from 11 December, 2018 to 27 January, 2019.

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Black Sea

By Refik Anadol

“Black Sea” is a kinetic data sculpture that explores the organic interaction between representation and reflection. Using high frequency radar collections of the Black Sea provided by the Turkish State Meteorological Service, this piece aims to highlight the symbiotic interplay of technology, art, and nature in relation to humanity’s quest to push the limits of possibility. Our modes of representation and inquiry become a part of the natural world, reflecting and augmenting our perceptions of reality. In our quest for resolution, stories offer us a simulated environment that are in fact just as real as nature itself. The transformation of this sea surface data collection becomes not just a means of visualizing information, but rather a transmutation of our desire for understanding into a poetic experience. “Black Sea” underlines the specific importance of the Black Sea for Turkey and Russia.

The artwork was prepared by Refik Anadol with the support of Turkey Promotion Group (TPG) for the Innoprom Trade Fair held in Yekateringburg, Russia from 08-11July, 2019.

Refik Anadol (b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey) is a media artist, director and pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence. His body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines. In taking the data that flows around us as the primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as a collaborator, Anadol paints with a thinking brush, offering us radical visualizations of our digitized memories and expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion. Anadol’s site-specific AI data sculptures, live audio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many forms, while encouraging us to rethink our engagement with the physical world, its temporal and spatial dimensions, and the creative potential of machines.

*Refik Anadol’s Interconnected, Bosphorus, and Black Sea are featured in Centerpoint Now ©2020, World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, UN 75th anniversary special edition "Are we there yet?" co-produced with Streaming Museum.

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