'Art is Humanity's Capacity for Imagination' - Interview with AI Art Pioneer Refik Anadol

In this interview, digital artist Refik Anadol explains how he uses machine intelligence to create new and unique digital environments.


500 words, 3 minute read

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Refik Anadol is a generative artist and a pioneer in using machine intelligence to create new and unique digital environments. Now based in Los Angeles, Anadol has created several large-scale public art commissions across the US, including ‘Interconnected’, a 2000+ square foot digital artwork in Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In 2021, his ‘Machine Hallucinations’ series set a record for the most expensive NFT collection ever sold in Asia by a single artist.

In this video, made in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery in London, UK, Anadol gave the team at Blokhaus an insight into his aesthetic philosophy and explained why he chooses to build on Tezos.

You’ll find some highlights below, and you can watch the entire video at the top of this page.

On being inspired by technology:

I think technology [inspires the] process of thinking. It’s kind of an extension of the human mind and a way of understanding our near future by looking the past and now.

It’s more about understanding the fundamentals of technology and its impact on the society and our DNA and gene, and really find a way to use it beyond just what it’s meant to be. It’s more about finding the poetry inside the software, hardware, and systems.

[…] For me, art is humanity’s capacity for imagination, and the studio is responsible for pushing the capacity of this imagination to the edge. And on the edge we found technology.

Making generative art sustainable:

We are extremely careful about our impact on nature once we use extreme computation. We try to source, everything in house, not to try to use cloud computing. But if we need cloud computing, we look for resources which [don’t have] consumption problems, or which use natural energy. […] We try to find those partners who have been purposefully pushing cloud computing in an ethical way, and always do our best to do things humbly in the studio rather than in [at] a large scale with big computations.

We work with Proof-of-Stake blockchains, to understand the ecosystem versus Proof-of-Work. We are trying to hear reactions, and problems, and evaluate what we could do better.

Virtual versus physical space:

For me and for our studio, we always imagine first in the virtual space, like painting with data, sensing what a human brain may feel through the lens of EEG. We never imagine things in the physical world, in the first step.

[…] To me, what was more inspiring is what happens when physical and virtual connect. I think that’s where the value is for our near future. Not necessarily just virtual space, not necessarily just physical space, [but] a purposeful context and discourse, when the two worlds collides.

For more background on Refik Anadol and his work, check out his website, linked below: