Commissioned by SALT Research to work with its collections, artist Refik Anadol employed machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents. Interactions of the multidimensional data found in the archives were, in turn, translated into an immersive media installation. Archive Dreaming, presented as part of The Uses of Art: Final Exhibition with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, is user-driven. However, when idle, the installation “dreams” of unexpected correlations among documents. The resulting high-dimensional data and interactions are translated into an immersive architectural space.
Shortly after receiving the commission, Anadol became a resident artist for Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence Programme, where he closely collaborated with Mike Tyka to explore cutting-edge developments in the field of machine intelligence in an environment that brought together artists and engineers. Developed during his residency, the Archive Dreaming intervention transformed the gallery space on Floor 1 at SALT Galata into an all-encompassing environment that intertwines history with the contemporary, and challenges immutable concepts of the archive while destabilizing archive-related questions with machine learning algorithms.
The immersive architectural space was created as a canvas, with light and data used as materials. This effort to deconstruct an illusory space radically transforms both the normal boundaries of the visual experience of a library and that of a conventional movie screen into the three-dimensional, kinetic, and architectonic space of a visualized archive. Using architectural intelligence, the principal idea of the immersive installation was to reframe memory, history, and culture in a museum perspective for the 21st century.
Refik Anadol is a media artist, director, and lecturer and visiting researcher in UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. Working in the fields of site-specific public art with parametric data sculpture approach and live audio/visual performance with immersive installation approach, his works explore the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture and media arts with machine intelligence.