Inspired by the cosmos-probing technology of US space agency NASA, Turkish media artist Refik Anadol's latest exhibit in Istanbul tries to take art lovers on a virtual journey into the deepest space.
Anadol’s solo show Machine Memoirs: Space will be open through April 25 at Pilevneli Gallery in Istanbul.
The exhibit presents “machine-based visual speculations about space,” according to Pilevneli's website. “Humanity’s historical attempts to explore its depths unveil intricate connections between obscurity and openness,” it added.
I have finally made it to the @NGVMelbourne Triennial. Seeing @refikanadol’s masterpiece was mesmerising. So proud to own one of his Mars Hallucinations #NFT + Print and can’t wait for his release of the Rover Mars Hallucinations he teased a few weeks ago! pic.twitter.com/M6U2FqsMMl— Charles Dangibeaud (@cdangibeaud) April 2, 2021
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Anadol said that the inspiration for the exhibition was “NASA JPL and their engineers,” referring to the US space agency’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory, based in the state of California.
“It was a remarkable honor that I and my team have been working for the last three years with the team behind one of the most challenging missions, engineering, and archives of NASA JPL,” he added.
“I was deeply fortunate to get inspired by them,” said Anadolu, who led a “team of 14 people ... representing 10 countries."
“As a team, we’ve always been trying to push our limitations or our imagination,” he said. “So the project was a very natural fit to push the boundaries of our imagination.”
According to Anadol, they were also “able to create our own kind of ecosystem of creativity, thanks to NASA JPL data.”
Pointing out that the data was available to the public, Anadol said that it was easy to work with.
“So pretty much every single [piece of] data in the exhibition is public, and pretty much every algorithm is public, but that creates an amazing energy ... for the exhibition,” he added.
‘3 machines that truly inspired me’
“This exhibition is about three machines that truly inspired me,” Anadol explained.
“I believe these are some of the most inspiring three machines showing humanity's collective memories of space,” he added.
“One is the ISS [International Space Station], a large spacecraft in orbit around Earth,” which launched in 1998, he said.
Another, he added, is the 1990 “Hubble Telescope, which is recording our galaxy, and trying to convince us that we are not alone in the whole thing and capturing stars and galaxies from thousands of light years away.”
The third is the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, he said, explaining that the machine is documenting every single part of the Red Planet.
“So we just generate the experiences based on these three telescopes and their memories, and train artificial intelligence to just dream tentative machine dreams from those memories,” he added.
According to Anadol, his time at NASA had a “100%” impact on his current show.
“Every single meeting I had, every, brilliant person I met was just a pure inspiration,” he said.
Popular show for everyone
Istanbulutes are flocking to the exhibit, despite the ongoing coronavirus, and formed long queues, sometimes waiting for hours to enter the art gallery.
“I'm extremely happy,” Anadol said, “First of all because for me, art should be for anyone from any age or background, so the exhibition is welcome from many perspectives.
“Anyone can go through that door, it's free for everyone,” he added.
“Because of the pandemic, my hope is for one hour, people can still get out of their classical world, doubts, problems of life, and then just enjoy for one-hour meditation,” he said.
The show should allow them to “just transform themselves into something else, something positive, something hopeful, something that allows you to get inspired,” he added.
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