On June 29, 2023, the Deji Art Museum will present the newest project of its Public Art Program: The Transformative Power of Memories to the public audience. The museum will display two representative works of artist Refik Anadol, Melting Memories – Engram – Box and Quantum Memories Probability, on the large outdoor LED screen set between Deji Plaza Phase I and II and in the public art area of 8F, Phase II, Deji Plaza. The project breaks through the boundaries of “things” with artistic dimensions, exploring spaces of thought not yet accessible to humans. It shares with the public the beautiful movements of thought in the human mind while sensing profound energy from the real world after their transformation into human memories. The project hopes to guide the public in rethinking the value of memory itself, to examine the relationship between humans and the physical world, and to create more possibilities for forming connections.
The two works on display in this public art project are both the first of their kind in China. Melting Memories – Engram – Box is derived from Anadol’s experiments using advanced technological tools provided by the Neuroscape Lab at the University of California, San Francisco. By collecting changes in the movement of human brain waves, the work enables visitors to experience the aesthetics of movement within the human brain, offering new insights into the possibilities of combining advanced technology and contemporary art. In 2019, Anadol received the Lumen Prize Gold Award for this work. That same year, he presented the piece at the Florence Biennale and received the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award for Lifetime Achievement in New Media Art.
Quantum Memories Probability is exhibited in the public art area of 8F, Phase II, Deji Plaza. In this piece, one of his most representative works, Anadol uses the most cutting-edge, publicly available quantum computing research data and algorithms from Google AI to generate 200 million images of nature and landscapes as visual data that constantly flow around us, creating a dynamic view of multiple worlds within the quantum world, aiming to present our shared and digitized memories of nature as a whole.
The new public art project The Transformative Power of Memories does not merely implement Deji Art Museum’s mission to “present arts across the boundaries of cultures and eras.” It also serves as a continuation of the Public Art Program exemplified by earlier projects such as the Public Area Art Project and The ATRIUM ARTIST PROJECT. This time, Deji Art Museum links the public area of the museum to the outdoor space of the Deji Plaza building complex. The project sees the city as a canvas and urban spaces as the artistic extensions of the museum into public space, transforming flowing data into artistic power through the means of a public project and presenting it in public view, and enabling the audience and art to meet and mingle.
New Public Art Project
The Transformative Power of Memories
What is memory? The famous psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus once explained that human memory is not so much a summary of the events experienced, but more the sum of what has been thought, what has been told, and what has been believed over time. Everything people see, hear, and think form the prototypes of memories, and these memories are transformed into the experiences of survival, the history of knowing the past and the present, and the stories passed down from mouth to mouth, participating in the process of human reproduction.
Whether they are ancient books incised with history, objects that hold the heart and soul, or treasures that indicate aesthetics, they carry the memories of our ancestors and are passed down from generation to generation. From text and images, to sound and video, and then immersive virtual reality, the vehicles of memory have become more and more diversified over time. Today, technological innovation allows memories to be stored and shared in the form of data, and in the sea of data of the information age, we connect to each other in new ways.
“Data is not just a bunch of numbers,” according to artist Refik Anadol, “Data is actually memory.” Through the weaving of art and technology, Anadol transforms data, which carries human memory, into a fluid and palpable artistic spectacle. He presents a cross-generational practice on the visualization of digital memory, providing an artistic experience that breaks away from fixed thinking patterns and opens up more innovative artistic inspirations.
The new public art project The Transformative Power of Memories at the Deji Art Museum breaches the boundaries of “things” with artistic dimensions and explores spaces of thought not yet accessible to humans. It shares with the public the beautiful movements of thought in the human mind while sensing profound energy from the real world after their transformation into human memories. The project hopes to guide the public in rethinking the value of memory itself, to examine the relationship between humans and the physical world, and to create more possibilities for forming connections.
b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
Refik Anadol is a media artist, director and pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence. His body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines. In taking the data that flows around us as the primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as a collaborator, Anadol paints with a thinking brush, offering us radical visualizations of our digitized memories and expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion. Anadol’s site-specific AI data sculptures and paintings, live audio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many forms, while encouraging us to rethink our engagement with the physical world, its temporal and spatial dimensions, and the creative potential of machines.
The artist is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes including Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award, German Design Award, UCLA Art+Architecture Moss Award, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award, SEGD Global Design Awards, and Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award. His site-specific audio/visual performances have been featured at iconic landmarks, museums and festivals worldwide, such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hammer Museum, International Digital Arts Biennial Montreal, MoMa, Ars Electronica Festival, l’Usine; Genève, Arc De Triomf, Zollverein; SANAA’s School of Design Building, santralistanbul Contemporary Art Center, Outdoor Vision Festival, Istanbul Design Biennial, Sydney City Art, among many others.