Everyone is talking about Refik Anadol’s AI-generated paintings

This year’s Frieze Week includes a series of private viewings at galleries across the city – exhibitions aside from trade show presentations. Hauser & Wirth is showing paintings by George Condo at its new West Hollywood premises; Sprüth Magers shows paintings, sculptures, drawings, video and installation works by Anne Imhof; and Jeffrey Deitch presents digital artist Refik Anadol’s first major solo show in LA, which opened Tuesday.

The show features Anadol’s hypnotic, AI-generated “living paintings” that transform publicly available data and images into vibrant, abstract digital works that swirl and swish within their frames. For a heavily technology-driven exhibition, the exhibition feels counterintuitively organic, collectively representative AI reinterpretations of California’s natural environment. A triptych, “Pacific Ocean,” draws on high-frequency radar data images of oceanic environments; “Winds of LA” is created from wind data collected by weather sensors; and two separate triptychs contain more than 153 million landscape paintings in the public domain from California’s national parks.

The hallmark, however, is where it’s easy to lose part of the morning, even during a particularly busy art week. Three of the above triptychs play in an immersive format on a 40ft wide LED wall in an endless loop along with a fourth work, Coral Dreams, which is not otherwise on view in the exhibition. Excerpts from Anadol’s 2021 Machine Hallucinations series, including Coral Dreams, served as the backdrop for this year’s Grammy Awards stage. In the intimate gallery space, the work feels no less dramatic.

The canvas for this pivotal work, Living Paintings Immersive Editions, falls flush to the floor, allowing the digital images to flow onto the gallery’s polished concrete floor, enveloping viewers in flashes of color, coils of white light, and dynamic, jewel-toned shadows. Wave-like shapes seem to swell off the screen. The soundscape by sound designer Kerim Karaoglu – a collaboration between AI and human – fills the room. The work is sometimes calming and meditative, sometimes invigorating and disturbing. The body reacts by breathing faster or suddenly becoming heavy and slow. Starting Saturday, the work will feature a garden-like scent wafting through the room, generated by the AI, according to Anadol.

Born in Istanbul and based in LA since 2012, the artist is also a computer programmer. His Frogtown-based team of 16 spends months sourcing data, then to protect privacy, applies an algorithm to remove the images of all human traces — no faces, body parts, or personal details like names. Curating the images can take up to six months. Then the AI ​​mind gets to work, using deep neural networks — “algorithms that have the ability to learn,” Anadol explains in this edited talk. “But while I’m doing the work, I have a lot of control — fine-tuning parameters like speed, shape — even the AI ​​learning rate. My hope is not to mimic reality or create a realistic copy of nature, but to create something that feels like dreaming.”

We spoke to Anadol after the opening of his solo show.

Refik Anadol's giant LED wall.

A still from Anadol’s Living Paintings Immersive Editions.

(Refik Anadol Studio)

The theme of this exhibition seems to be making the ephemerally visible, be it weather patterns translated into abstract designs or human emotions cast in physical, high-density foam. Where does this urge come from?

It comes from a very childish imagination. It started when I started playing with computers and creating software at the age of 8. I have always believed that there is another world around us that we cannot perceive but that exists. When you think of data, sensors and machines, we know that they communicate with each other through signals. And signals are not visible, but we know they exist. [I want] to demystify this reality.

Do you consider yourself the author of the work in Living Paintings or is it a human-machine collaboration?

It’s the second, a human-machine collaboration. Because it really uses AI as a collaborator. It’s like creating a thinking brush. It’s actually more work [than not using AI]. Even though the AI ​​doesn’t forget… creating the story and narrative, it’s still human intervention.

They talk about working with data – wind speed, currents, precipitation and barometric pressure, even brainwaves – as if She were “pigment” like a painter works with paint. Can you explain that in more detail?

When I think of data as a pigment, I have the feeling that it is constantly changing, always changing shape and never drying. It’s always in flux. So I feel like data is becoming a pigment and that’s going to be the feeling. That’s one of the reasons why everything in the exhibition is alive and not frozen. I think it really represents that world, that reality that’s constantly changing around us. Always creating new meaning. Change and control in creating art are becoming increasingly relevant.

Many people are skeptical about AI art. Others fear the technology will devalue artists’ livelihoods. How do you react to this?

I totally heard and agree that this technology can cause potential harm and problems. And I know there are artists who worry about that. I hear them fully and understand them. But I also believe that the same technology can bring a new dimension and improve the human spirit. I’m not a wishful thinker and I can hear and see all the problems, but for these reasons I’m constantly training our AI models.

What art is is what happens afterwards [the AI plays a role]. I personally spend more time on the AI ​​results, the AI ​​outputs, so I’m not just using what the AI ​​is doing. I personally spend more time after the AI ​​creates things. And I’m pretty sure right now a lot of artists are imagining what else they can do with these new tools. I think it also saves time and encourages creativity. That’s one of the reasons why the biggest artwork on our show is actually a process wall demystifying the AI ​​decisions, showing the algorithms and so on. I’ve spent so much time demystifying the AI.

They collaborated with the Neuroscape lab at UC San Francisco to create their “Neural Paintings,” which capture real human memories that are then visualized by machine learning algorithms. It is a vulnerable work, but also a particularly personal one. Can you share what triggered it?

Unfortunately, my uncle died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. That’s when I started thinking how to preserve the memories without violating privacy? The more childish question is: can we touch our memories? are they physical

It is [about] the similarities of our mind, it represents similar patterns. While memories are personal and unique to us, there is still a pattern that we all create together in a similar way, and these three portraits represent our similarities.

What do you think of LACMA’s recent gift announcement, describing it as “the first and largest collection of blockchain-embossed artworks to enter an American art museum”?

I find it amazing. I’m so happy that museums are finally recognizing the movement – it’s a shining signal for the future of the field. It means museums trust the medium; it means that blockchain technology is self-validating; it means that art is digital [being] accepted.

What was it like creating the backdrop for the Grammys stage with your art — and what do you think of Beyonc?e Losing to Harry Styles for Album of the Year?

I am deeply honored for such an important recognition. Six months ago I got the call from the executive producers and they said it was the first time ever that they were using AI and the first time ever that they were working with a visual artist at this level, so that was very exciting. I was so happy to see the piece on such a large scale. But I rarely follow the details [of music]. I mainly listen to AI music or classical music. But they are both giants.

You have plans to open an AI museum, Dataland, in downtown LA next year – what is it about?

This is the next dream, the big dream. I’ve dreamed of this for five years. I’ve always had a hard time finding institutions or spaces that fit [my] Dreams. I thought maybe it’s a great time to find a way to reinvent this new kind of experience. I’ve seen a lot of immersive experiences, but I’m trying to do something completely different – with AI and data and new ways of imagining the future. It will be an important site – in three or four weeks we will finalize the details.

But I can say it’s a cultural goal and it will have a big impact. It [will feature] many collaborations, between many people around the world and across disciplines – researchers, artists, musicians. Immersive environments, simulations, multi-sensory. We will explore sound, image, text and the cutting edge of Generative AI. My hope is to create inspiration, hope and joy.

“Refik Anadol: Living Paintings”

Where: Jeffrey Deitch, 925 North Orange Drive, Hollywood

If: Tue-Sat, 11am-6pm, until April 29th.

Costs: Free

The information.: deitch.com

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2023-02-18/refik-anadols-ai-generated-living-paintings-frieze-2023 Everyone is talking about Refik Anadol’s AI-generated paintings

Sarah Ridley

Sarah Ridley is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Sarah Ridley joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing sarahridley@ustimespost.com.

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