Immersive Barco-projected spectacle shows how machines dream

Istanbul, TR - 2021

In March 2021, Turkish-American new media artist and designer Refik Anadol launched its Machine Memoirs: Space exhibition at the Istanbul Pilevneli Gallery. Powered by Barco projection technology, Anadol combined complex AI algorithms, data visualization techniques and human creativity to present a magical, immersive spectacle. The innovative exhibition was visited by more than 40,000 visitors in the first 4 weeks after its opening.

Barco solutions:

  • 18 x 3-chip DLP digital projectors

Key benefits: 

  •  Superb image quality 
  • Vivid and mind-blowing colors 
  • Stable and reliable operation

The exhibition in Istanbul, Refik Anadol’s home city, brought together diverse works inspired by the artist’s recent collaboration with NASA JPL. The main building blocks for the works that made up this cutting-edge exhibition were publicly available data of space, collected by NASA satellites and spacecraft, including ISS and Hubble. What visitors were seeing was Anadol’s bespoke algorithm and data pigmentation techniques in an immersive projection set-up. 

AI paintings projected

Refik Anadol calls this AI cinema: “I asked myself: if machines can learn, can they also dream? And could artificial intelligence become a tool for creativity? Could it be a partner in our journey of telling visual stories?”

To visualize his AI paintings, Refik Anadol relied on Barco projection technology, although the artist says he wanted to use it in an unexpected way, and do more than just creating shiny pixels. Refik Anadol made use of Barco projectors for the first time in 2010, for another immersive installation in Istanbul, but the artist has evolved since, and is now mainly inspired by data and artificial intelligence. In 2018 Anadol already unleashed his WDCH Dreams at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Another artistic highlight was Machine Hallucinations at ARTECHOUSE in New York.

The exhibition made use of 18 Barco 3-chip DLP digital projectors. The organizers especially valued the projectors’ vivid and saturated colors, rich contrast and high color stability over time.

Projected with perfection 

Although immersive projection installations are popping up all over the world, Refik Anadol says not all of them have the same level of imagination. With Machine Memoirs: Space, the artist wanted to bring more than just shiny pixels, more depth and imagination. Indeed, there’s a powerful meaning behind the AI data story and about how light projected onto architecture is bringing a new dimension of reality. 

“I am not interested in the material quality of architecture,” says Refik Anadol. “What I try to envision in my work needs brilliance. That’s why I am obsessed with exceptional color and brightness, and the quality of the technology therefore needs to be exceptional as well.”

That perfectionism is needed to create the amazing work Anadol creates. With Machine Memoirs: Space, every visual needed to be in line with the physical space of the Pilevneli Gallery. Every single pixel of Anadol’s creations have their specific place in the physical space.

“That’s why we wanted it to be as perfect as possible, and that’s why we chose Barco. I am very ambitious about lighting conditions and colors. My team and I use the most advanced algorithms, and we spend thousands of hours computing the data. If we raise the bar this high, then why would we want to visualize our work with below-standard technology?” 

Overwhelming turnout 

The feedback from the public and the press was overwhelming. Apparently, Anadol was able to touch many of the exhibition’s visitors. But also the event companies and technology partners were super-motivated to make the exhibition a success, after many months of inactivity during the pandemic. And with the use of Barco projection technology, the artists and technology team were sure that the artist’s creations were going to be presented in the best possible circumstances. 

Refik Anadol: “Over the years, I have come to know the high quality of Barco projectors very well. Once you have learned about the quality of this technology, it’s very difficult to unlearn it. As an innovator myself, I want to work with innovative companies like Barco. Pioneers always have a connection with pioneers; that’s not a coincidence.” 

The exhibition was also made possible by Turkish AV partner Reflection Production and by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

Picture and video courtesy of Refik Anadol Studio

As an innovator myself, I want to work with innovative companies like Barco. Pioneers always have a connection with pioneers.

Refik Anadol

Turkish-American new media artist and designer

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