E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 2020

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

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3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol

By Ann Guo

Published on March 15, 2022  

        As blockchain and NFTs amass more and more interest on a global scale, there are a few main players who emerge as the biggest fishes on OpenSea. Established contemporary art names such as Damien Hirst, or even Urs Fischer, are one of these art-giants turned digital art maestros. Another household name is now Refik Anadol (b.1985), Istanbul born-and-raised media artist who, since his undergraduate days in the metropolitan Bilgi University in Istanbul, has been using computational capacities to render large-scale installations on the walls and architectural structures.

As our society hurdles dizzyingly towards a future of meta-worlds and virtual living, artists like Anadol are using the material fact of our data trails—often stored in “clouds” as the conceptual context for boundary-defying artistic experimentation. 

In his latest installation HOPE Alkazar in Istanbul, a small crowd of strangers in a cinema hall gazed about the undulating composition. And then there was dancing. Techno music drums were heard over speakers as people began to twirl and leap about, exuberant with childhood glee. Multicolored pixels scattered in the wake of their flinging shadows. There was a god-like feeling of control over the trails of these 1’s and 0’s, somehow transformed into a complex aesthetic pattern. But true control is derived from the AI technology beneath: an impressive array of sensors map 3D coordinates on our physical forms and adjust their computational projections accordingly.

Digital experiences like HOPE Alkazar marks a unique shift in the realm of global contemporary art. Not only do audiences interact in site-specific contexts to spark meaning, but they also provide the very substance upon which these hallucinatory immersions are founded. In the case of Anadol’s works, those building blocks are massive ledgers of publicly-accessed data, interpreted in terabytes of scale.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Anadol’s conception of collective memory in the digital universe is a form of living consciousness, a vessel for our shared stories and dreams. The artist’s other recent exhibition, Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams at König Galerie Berlin, ingests over 300 million public photographs of the natural world. Nature Dreams is also a minted NFT, one of many in Anadol’s repertoire, which sold for 1.2 million USD in January through König. As NFT artwork gains more international hype, there are few names that have risen as precipitously as that of Anadol’s.

Anadol has carved out a space for himself in the annals of crypto history. However, a more immediate, and often less understood element, of his projects is their potential to act as sites of public education. We create terabytes of data every year, which is all stored publicly. Our social media swipes, our taps on e-commerce, everything we do in relation to the internet creates an entire world of information which Refik categorizes as a form of memory.

To synthesize this memory into aesthetics, then, is also a way for Anadol to communicate the deeper picture of our digital environment—that we have created selves and worlds in a space that is unfathomably large and continuously growing; that the level of data tracking in current internet models is a public service and public governance issue; and that our collective entry into an alt-meta-existence has already begun, whether we like it or not. Read on a second layer, Anadol’s projects shed light on a truth more complicated, or more sinister, depending on your gaze, regarding the next frontier of human existence.

In the following interview, Anadol shares the development of his data-painting from thesis projects to NFTs, the future possibilities of crypto art and the meta-world, and his approach towards public awareness and education.

The following conversation took place in January 2022.

1. Portrait of Refik Anadol in front of his latest installation in Istanbul, HOPE Alkazar. Courtesy of the artist.

Ann Guo: Could you give us a bit of background on your artistic journey? How did you first get involved in building a "post-digital architecture," and how would you define that term?

Refik Anadol: I have been creating work as a media artist since 2008, when I did my very first media installation in Istanbul using architecture as a canvas, and when I started using custom software development techniques to create art. I think I coined the term “data-painting” in 2008, while in undergraduate studies in Istanbul. I use data to create real-time graphics and generative art.  In 2011, my first data sculpture was also in Istanbul. In 2014, after getting my second MFA degree from UCLA, I opened a studio in Los Angeles. This was the most important chapter. The dream was to open a studio and practice as a team to go much deeper in data-driven experiences, data as a substance, and especially embedding media arts into architecture in immersive rooms, using projection-mapping, and practicing data-painting and data-sculptures. Our studio opened in 2014 and we became prominent in the public art scene. We developed novel software programming languages that could be applied to big data.

2. Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams. Sketches, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

A.G.: You recently opened Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams at König Galerie in Berlin. Along with that, you created Hope Alkazar in Istanbul. Your synesthetic stories seem to reflect the miraculous world around us, while also delving into a universe of experimental distortion which uses public data as a source. What is your art meant to teach us as an audience? What kinds of new realities can we experience through AI algorithms and the synthesis of archival data?

R.A.: I think there are three important aspects of our artwork’s impact. In the beginning, the idea for our studio was to create art for anyone, any age, any culture, and any background. I personally hate all the bubbles in society that create closed cultures, barriers, and walls. I don’t like that problem of separation, and I think life begins from deconstructing those biases. Generating art for anyone in the world to appreciate is a really heavy responsibility, but I think it is possible when the right mathematical, universal language of algorithms, signs, and aesthetics of technology is in place. I do believe we can do that. That is the reason why we produce multiple public art experiences around the world, accessible to anyone with free participation.

All these projects come with AI-heavy research, and we always share our behind-the-scenes process: the types of data we collect, how many images we use, which algorithms we prefer, who invented them, and for which reason. In all our research, in all our projects, we always highlight the process. While this encourages copycats, I think it is our responsibility to share our production process with our audience.

In the beginning, the idea for our studio was to create art for anyone, any age, any culture, and any background. In all our research, in all our projects, we always highlight the process. While this encourages copycats, I think it is our responsibility to share our production process with our audience.

The other characteristic of our studio practice is our heavy use of cutting-edge algorithms, advanced technologies, and social media. In my opinion, data is not made of numbers, it is a form of memory. Humanity today creates enormous memories in our cellphones, smart tablets, and so on. Our artworks are mostly focused on collective memories, such as space, nature, urban, and things that belong to communities.

The Berlin exhibition, Nature Dreams, is one of those exhibitions where a 60-year-old, Brutalist building became a space for 200,000 people to convene and ponder. I think it's Europe's most visited exhibition at the moment. We had a one-kilometer queue, every single day.

I think [Nature Dreams] is Europe's most visited exhibition at the moment. We had a one-kilometer queue, every single day.

For that exhibition project, the concept was intrinsically linked with nature. In our practice, we really care about nature. For me, it's the most divine inspiration in life. We focused 300 million photos of natural elements and trained AI to generate a data sculpture. I think Berlin audiences enjoyed the meditation and dreaming qualities of the artwork. Set in a former church, it became some kind of a sci-fi slash public art, an incredible experience.

A.G.: Speaking of collective dreams memories, you mentioned that “internet architecture lacked a definable center and instead relied on an extraordinary collective hallucination.” When and how did you first get interested in this specific idea of data as collective memory, one that can generate emotional impact?

R.A.: Art does not necessarily need to be based on openly and directly sharing the technique and behind-the-scenes, but in our work, as I explained, transparency is an incredible asset. I think we found it very meaningful to try to create that language for our audiences.

But what happened in these artworks was a feeling of, “let's open this and try to make them public,” meaning free for everyone to access and enjoy. That intention generates an incredible audience – an incredibly aware audience. We also have artworks that use these immersive environments. We are trying to create this more divine connection between the audience, and the experience, the space, and AI and algorithms.

I'm not sure if this is one of the reasons that we generate this exciting audience. Another reason is the NFT aspect of our work. We have to be also aware that NFTs create a whole new subculture, a whole new universe on top of what we have right now in the world. The subculture inside Discord channels and social media activity is an amazing audience currently in the making. My dream, ever since I started playing games was, was always centered around the belief that physical and virtual space should connect. They should not be separated from each other.

We have to be also aware that NFTs create a whole new subculture, a whole new universe on top of what we have right now in the world.

A.G.: Speaking of NFTs, how has minting and selling your works as NFTs influenced your audience’s perception of your works? People are starting to understand what an NFT stands for. How has that changed the perception of value for your art? Does this add complexity to the viewer experience?

R.A.: I started in the blockchain culture almost eight years ago. From 2014 to 2017, I was personally involved in crypto and in mining. I first dabbled in NFTs in 2018 when one of my collectors from Zurich decided to call me and say, “Hey, I really need to mint this artwork to my wallet.” Since our projects are mostly using computer graphics, we always have remarkable GPUs in the studio.

My dream, ever since I started playing games was, was always centered around the belief that physical and virtual space should connect. They should not be separated from each other.

3. Refik Anadol, Machine Hallunications - MoMA - Dreams - A, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

I was very lucky that in the summer of 2020, I started to follow the NFT moment and was constantly be a part of the community. I have seen it grow from day one. Last year was remarkable. Our works were sold at Sotheby's for USD 5.1 million. The MoMA collaboration [Unsupervised: MoMA seen through the mind of a machine, 2021] was also incredibly important. MoMA, one of the world's most important museums and cultural institutions, trusted our studio to do a collaboration. This was incredibly meaningful because MoMA was recognizing and assigning value to our AI data paintings and AI data sculptures, something I hold dear to my heart.

We are currently doing a collaboration with Space X for the St. Jude Hospital to create revenue for cancer research at a children's hospital. We are in this very active in this ecosystem. We do not see it as just an economy for us, but a tool to create new models of sharing, in service to other institutions.

So we have been very thoughtful in the NFT journey. We are also very grateful to our collectors. Last year we generated an additional 11,000 collectors from the 11,000 tokens we made, who are super active and super supportive. This eight-figure journey for an art studio is a dream. It created economic independence, and that turned quickly into another journey.

This eight-figure journey for an art studio is a dream. It created economic independence, and that turned quickly into another journey.

We call it Dataland. We are creating our own metaverse, but with a very serious direction. We are bringing mental health and wellbeing into the equation, using multisensory inputs and generating next-level physical and virtual experiences. The first one is opening in Los Angeles this year. It will be a physical space where you can go into a portal and enjoy our metaverse called Dataland.

4. Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations - Space: Metaverse, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

A.G.: You are using such massive amounts of data. A lot of it is public data. But the common internet user still doesn't fully grasp how much of their own data is streamed into private servers with no transparent data trails. Now that the concept of data decentralization is gaining more popularity, some have advocated for sovereignty back into the hands of the users. The ways you synthesize data through algorithms and then present them as public installations can act as sites of public education. Is that your intention?

R.A.: One-hundred percent. I think that education and bringing awareness to issues are some of the most powerful elements when creating art. For me, art is always responsible for bringing awareness to certain situations. What is very powerful is understanding that some systems are still made of invisible designs. Even though some companies are doing their best in terms of data protection, I don't believe they are as accurate as they say they are.

For me, art is always responsible for bringing awareness to certain situations.

Our art experiences create a level of awareness, at least thanks to raising this question: “how did this guy connect all these data sets?” And when I say, “You know what? This is your data. This is what you are living behind you. We are not doing anything else. That is what you are doing. In all actuality, as collective humanity, you are all sharing your memories.”

Memories are made public. Nobody is protecting them. And this data will stay and exist in databases because that is what you agreed on. At least, as a studio, we are producing art installations and not producing other harmful products. That realization brings an “aha” moment for many audiences.

Simultaneously, we are also working with climate resilience groups for the United Nations. We have worked with climate change activist groups and are helping them to visualize other datasets. So we are not just showcasing social media data, we are also helping NGOs by creating meaningful public art experiences to bring more awareness to contemporary issues through the lens of data aesthetics.

A.G.: So these are activist projects?

R.A.: Yes, of course. We never enjoy leaving these projects alone. Whenever someone reaches out to us, we always have this “yes” layer. We like to help these institutions tell their narratives as well as possible.

A.G.: For the UN, what kind of data were you using?

R.A.: It was research based on climate change. We compiled S&P data on companies and their environmental impact.

We also did a project called “MRI of the Earth” in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture. We visualized sea-level change, CO2 change, population, extreme weather events, and their correlations with wildfires and others. We made these data sets more visible to the world, with the tools we have been generating over the years.

5. Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations - Space: Metaverse, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

A.G.: How do you reconcile this reality that blockchain and Bitcoin and redundant data sets use massive amounts of energy? How do you see the relationship between crypto art and the environment developing? Your projects addressing climate change and wildfires, for instance, also use high GPUs and blockchain technology.

R.A.: It is impossible to ignore this problem. All of the technology available and used throughout the world is part of the problem. This is not necessarily a Bitcoin problem, not necessarily a cell phone or social media, or data problem. Every single technology that we have generated is most likely created with power, and thus is the part of the problem,

Of course, blockchains are adding to the problem right now. Still, they represent a relatively, very, very low, proportion of energy consumption around the world, like zero-point-something level. But that percentage may increase by a lot if the technology is not controlled. It may be out of control very soon. So we did a lot of experiments with different blockchains last year, with blockchains that are mostly called proof-of stake-networks.

We tried our best to use different blockchains to learn the ecosystem and understand the capacity of those systems. There are lots of hiccups. I mean, from the collector’s point of view, people are still not happy in certain conditions. We tried Tezos, we tried Algorand, we tried Flow, we tried Ethereum, and BitMart.

We tried our best to experiment with all these chains, not only the ones that are harmful to the environment nature, which are called proof-of-work. I'm still learning, to be honest. But experimenting is the one way forward, to be honest. By experimenting, we will get closer to choosing the right chain behaving for the most convenient conditions for collectors and artists.

These are exciting days, but I would not say which chain is the best or makes the most sense. What we are learning is that everyone is going through the proof-of-stake network, which includes Ethereum, with a 2.0 version apparently coming out this summer. So that is the good news. The trend towards proof-of-stake is a very nice, positive signal that will make for much more meaningful transaction models, I guess.

We practice in four different blockchains in one year to understand the full landscape. I don’t like to talk about it, instead, I just do it and learn. It is my belief that doing things to talk about them later is better than talking but not doing things. We plunged right in and tried, we tried to use proof-of-stake and to use proof-of-work networks, and throughout the process learned how they worked and how they behaved. We also learned about the collectors’ reactions. I mean, if there is no collector, there is not a good ecosystem. That creates a really interesting dialogue between the collector and the artist.

A.G.: Exactly. And lastly, what is the favorite place in which you exhibited? If you were to visualize the city that encapsulates everything that you are doing artistically, which one would it be?

R.A.: I think Istanbul, my hometown. I still very very much love this city, where, I guess, I got my foundational education of life. I owe so much to Istanbul for teaching me the necessary basics. But also I am very happy about Los Angeles, to be honest. I think this city is one of the most inspiring cities in the world. It is where cinema was reinvented, and where you can find some of the most brilliant minds of the tech world. These two cities are, for me, some of the most inspiring ones. But Dubai also comes to mind. I was there, and I was shocked at how extremely new and innovative the city is.

I mean, honestly, every single city is an incredible canvas. I believe in cities more than ever, more than anything else. Cities are the most exciting living organisms. Maybe countries are becoming a little bit of something of the last century. Cities, today, are the true representation of communities to me. 

Dubai also comes to mind. I believe in cities more than ever, more than anything else. Cities are the most exciting living organisms.

Ann Guo (she/they) is an arts writer and anthropologist based internationally, and most recently in Istanbul and Seattle. Ann’s favorite artists include Anicka Yi, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, and Glenn Ligon, amongst a growing list of many others.

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