Refik Anadol – What Do You Need to Know?

Through the ages, various artists used many different mediums to express themselves. Stones used to draw on walls, brushes used to paint on canvases, marbles shaped into most interesting figures by chisels. But have you ever seen an artwork produced with the help of a computer, a robot, an Artificial Intelligence!

This might sound ridiculous if you have never heard of an AI being used to create an art piece but day by day, artists who are interested in this new form of art increase. In fact, many works made by the use of AI algorithms can be found in the last couple of years. Indeed, one good example of this is the Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, an algorithm-generated print that was sold for $432,500 in October 2018.

Refik Anadol is one of the rising new media artist.

And so today, we will get to know Refik Anadol, one of those new media artists who is attracted to algorithm-generated art and he uses this new art medium in a much more innovative way. Anadol collects data from many different subjects in real life like humans, cities, or even weather events and turns them into fantastic cinematic experiences with the help of artificial intelligence algorithms that will keep you hypnotized for hours.

So without further ado, let’s get started on this shining star of the new media artists.


Refik Anadol was born in 1985 in Istanbul. He got his bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Bilgi University Visual Communication Design department with the highest honor in photography and video. As his graduation project, he carried out the first 3D projection project in Turkey.

Then he moved on to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for his master’s degree in Media Arts Design and he is currently working there as a lecturer and visiting researcher.

The Aether Project

Anadol began his career as an artist by producing architectural data sculptures, which he frequently displayed in public buildings and spaces. Later, he focused on creating digital art designed with artificial intelligence, which collects data from the human body, meteorology, seismic movements, music, etc. to illustrate. One of these works, The Aether project, turns the Los Angeles philharmonic orchestra concert into a cinematic experience with the algorithm created by Anadol and it was the first art project that won the Microsoft Research Best Vision Award.

Working as a new media artist, he tries to find an answer to how machines affect us in our daily lives and how they are affected by us. Therefore, his artwork studies the “feelings” of machines, how they perceive ordinary human life as in their complicated artificial intelligence using digital media tools. Specifically, AI is the most powerful tool Anadol is taking advantage of and this way he makes it more clear how two lives, artificial and natural, are merging and intersecting.

Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol working in his studio. Photo source: Niio.

When it comes to his workspace, Refik Anadol Studio was set up in Los Angeles in 2015. Since the projects utilize various fields of work, studio members come from different professions, such as architects, data scientists, designers and researchers. Therefore, this provides an area for the art to be generated from different points of view and professional ethics.


Infinity Room

Istanbul, 2015

Infinity room aims to deconstruct the traditional cinema experience into a more fluid and three-dimensional living in the view event. So, to achieve that, Anadol’s algorithm plays with the light to complicate the boundaries by creating unusual ones. Then, these “light rays” are reflected on all surfaces of a relatively small room. As a result, the viewers standing right in the middle of the room, surrounded by light rays reaching to infinity, lives through a captivating experience. Instead of providing a fantasy escape from the “real” world, the project intends to get the viewers to see themselves and their surroundings in a new, not disoriented perspective since people create a unique perspective and everyone can perceive it distinctly.

Melting Memories

Istanbul, 2018

This time motor movements of the human brain are used as the data for artificial intelligence. Hence, AI creates artwork with this data by using light, movement, and its algorithm. Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California provides brain function data, and the resulting work shows what happens when science and artwork collectively. It is ineffable, captivating, and surprisingly appealing when you consider our own brain that generates this artwork. It reveals what our brain is capable of if we let it think outside the box. I was lucky enough to visit this exhibition and it mesmerized me how exquisite digital art can be. I felt like I could watch them for hours and each time I would discover something new not only about the artwork but also about myself.

Machine Hallucination

NYC, 2019

Machine Hallucination is merging the past of New York with the forthcoming. The algorithm uses what happened in the past to hallucinate what may come in the future. Publicly available photos of New York enable artificial intelligence to encourage us to dream about the future in a way far beyond our limits. It is a 30-minute cinematic experience where the machine is a fortune teller.

Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams

Berlin, 2021

Natural beauty is on the scene in this project of Anadol. The exhibition is designed especially for the König Gallery and consists of three different categories, nature dreams, data paintings, and winds of Berlin. All of them gather their data from nature photos and process the pixels with the AI algorithm designed by Anadol. NFT options are available for the pieces, and this is the first time Berlin offers art pieces in NFT format.

Machine Hallucinations: Coral Dreams

Miami, 2021

Aorist has commissioned Refik Anadol to create a new visual experience for Aorist’s launch. For this project, Anadol installed a huge monolithic screen on the Faena Beach in Miami during Miami Art Week. Visuals that occur on the screen are the products of an AI algorithm that was fed with millions of photographs of underwater corals and natural forms. These visuals created by artificial intelligence are similar to the ones in the real world but “bend our perceptions, and provide new ways of seeing and thinking form, color, shape, and movement“, as Aorist puts it.

Machine Hallucinations: Coral Dreams project by Refik Anadol took place in Miami Beach in December 2021.


Interconnected: CLT

North Carolina, 2018

Who would have known that the airport data could be used to make art?

At first, global and regional air-traffic tracking software, airline flight information, baggage systems, and parking and ground shuttle transportation throughout the airport data is fed to the AI. Then the results are displayed on the airport walls.

Seoul Light: Seoul Haemong

Seoul, 2019

Another work tries to captivate the soul of the city. It is a collaboration with Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), where the building was used as the canvas of the project. Besides, it’s a similar artwork to the Machine Hallucination that AI carries people out of the building’s boundaries by connecting visual memories of the city and constructing an alternative reality.

Black Sea: Data Sculpture

Los Angeles, 2019

Anadol designed this project for the Innoprom trade fair to highlight the importance of the Black sea for Turkey and Russia. For this reason, it collects the meteorological data of the Black sea and by using the radar collections, a beautiful data sculpture is created. It is not only a basic data visualization work but also the representation of the human desire to see things more romantically and aesthetically.

Infinite Space

Miami, 2019

Anadol’s selection of the earlier works was represented in Artechouse in 2019. This collection contained Bosphorous (Istanbul, 2018), Archive Dreaming (Istanbul, 2017), Machine Memoirs (Miami, 2019), Infinity Room (Istanbul, 2015) in “Retrospective – Main Gallery” and Pladis: Data Universe (Istanbul, 2018), Celestial Structures (Miami, 2019), Wind Data Paintings (Boston, 2017), Melting Memories (Istanbul, 2018), Data Tunnel (June 2019, ARTECHOUSE premier) in the “Infinity Cubes” section.

“This collection of work represents my passion to critically pursue the intersection of machine intelligence, media, and architecture. I hope to offer a new visualization of our digitized memories, expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion, as well as a dramatic rethinking of the physical world, our relationship to time and space, and the creative potential of machines to enhance our cognitive capacities.”

Refik Anadol

Renaissance Dreams

Milan, 2020

The Renaissance art, literature and architecture were transformed into a machine dream with the artificial intelligence designed especially for MEET Digital Culture Center’s Immersive Room. So that, the essence of the epoch might be felt through a machine, in a facilitated manner.

Can machines help us contemplate deeply and assimilate the past that we had not witnessed?

Digital Art on Bottle – Hennessy VSOP Refik Anadol

Hennessy is a French cognac distiller, and it’s one of the biggest cognac exporters in the world. So, the collaboration with the Refik Anadol resulted in an extraordinary outcome, just like other works of Anadol. To begin with, he recorded the tasting committee’s emotions and evolved them into colors, shapes and textures by using 3D data mapping. Then, it was the bottle’s turn to display Anadol’s art, and it was more than convenient since what’s inside the bottle is reflected outside to hint people what it feels like to drink it.

Photo source: Hennessy.


Anadol’s every project generally includes several digital artwork formats like AI Data Sculptures, AI Data Paintings and NFT Immersive Room installations. These physical and digital artworks are created as NFT (Non-Fungible Token) and thus they can be sold and transferred through the web without the fear of pirate copies since NFT cryptos can not be copied. So his artworks are auctioned on different platforms like Nifty Gateway, OpenSea, Artechouse, Aorist and Sotheby’s. For instance, in one of these auctions at Sotheby’s, his work, “Machine Hallucinations: Space – Metaverse“, was sold for a whopping $2,35 million on October 2021.

You can find the net price of some of Refik Anadol’s NFT artworks that are sold in the table below. Some of his works were sold in HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) and ETH (Ethereum) cryptocurrency, so the prices given below are the conversions from those currencies to USD at the time they were sold.

Net Worth Table of Refik Anadol’s Artworks

Artwork Includes Auctioned on Net Worth
Machine Hallucinations: Space – MetaverseSW, Computer, VR HeadsetSotheby’s$2.35m
Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams – 2021/1 (AI Data Sculpture)SW, ComputerOpenSea$1.20m
Machine Hallucinations: Coral DreamsSW, Computer Aorist$851k
Machine Hallucinations: EarthSW, Computer, TVSotheby’s$818k
Machine Hallucinations: MarsSW, Computer, TVSotheby’s $517k
Machine Hallucinations: GalaxySW, Computer, TVSotheby’s$517k
Melting Memories – NFT EEG Data Sculpture – 01SW, Computer*, TV*OpenSea$401k**
Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams – Last MemorySW, Computer*, TV*Nifty Gateway$327k
Machine Hallucinations: Coral (AI Data Sculpture)SW, Computer Aorist $250k
Machine Hallucinations: Space | Chapter II: MarsSW, Computer, VR Headset Sotheby’s$193k
Machine Hallucinations: Space | Chapter I: EarthSW, Computer, TVSotheby’s $274k
Machine Hallucinations: Space | Chapter III: GalaxySW, Computer, TVSotheby’s $193k
Machine Hallucinations: Synthetic Mars Terrain – ESW, Computer, Laser ProjectorSotheby’s $129k
CryptoCube Data Sculpture #82SW, Computer, TV Nifty Gateway$87k
Machine Hallucinations: New York CitySWArtechouse$2k
Machine Hallucinations: Coral (Generative AI Data Painting)SW, ComputerAorist$2k
SW: Software
* These items’ inclusions were not confirmed, however judging from the artist’s other works auctioned, they are most likely were included.
** The price determined for this item is 100 ETH and since it is not sold yet, price conversion given in USD can be changed when it is sold.

You can find some of his work listed above and others in secondary markets like Nifty Gateway. Different editions of these digital artworks are also available on these markets. Prices for these editions usually vary between $1,000 and $10,000.


Anadol does not have a permanent collection in a museum yet; however, the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) has collaborated to transform their archive into AI art. It’s an online gallery and an NFT auction space that lasted three days. The project named Unsupervised answers the question of what kind of hallucinations a machine can have after absorbing the entire archive of MoMA.


Being a very innovative person and creating art in very unique ways, Anadol grabbed the attention of many authorities in his early career and won a range of prizes. Here are some of them.

  • Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award (2013)
  • UCLA Art+Architecture Moss Award (2014)
  • University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award (2014)
  • German Design Award (2016, 2017)
  • SEGD Global Design Awards (2016, 2018, 2019)
  • Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award (2016, 2018)
  • Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture (2018)
  • Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media Art (2019)


Machine Hallucination: NYC

Artechouse, NYC, Nov 2, 2021 – Jan 17, 2022

And yet again, after receiving many positive and supportive comments, the “Machine Hallucination” exhibition is returning to New York, as it was born here. And so, for New Yorkers and for some lucky tourists, the future dreams of the New York scene by artificial intelligence will be displayed in Artechouse between November 2021 and January 2022. However, this time passionate viewers can take the artwork they enjoyed the most with them. And so, NFT offers are now available for the pieces in this exhibition hosted by Artechouse.

Dream of Alkazar

Alkazar Movie Theatre, Istanbul, Nov, 2021 – Apr, 2022

Cinema is the people’s written dreams, but what would it be like if cinema dreams? Anadol’s latest project is called Dream of Alkazar, which is sponsored by Nike and uses the cinema archives this time. Due to the recent renovation of Alkazar Movie Theatre, Anadol’s new media art is introduced to citizens of Istanbul yet again, as an opening project for the theater.

So that’s it on our review on Refik Anadol. However, you can follow him on Instagram to stay updated on his work.

Before closing up, we got one more for you, here. She is also a pioneer like Anadol and uses many different mediums to present her art.

See you in the next one. Ciao. ✌????????

Special thanks to Zeynep Sena Karahan for her contribution. ????

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