Young Projects Los Angeles is proud to present the first solo exhibition of Refik Anadol in the US. The show runs from May 16 through August 2nd 2013. Born in Istanbul Turkey, Anadol is working at the forefront of the digital arts, with a particular emphasis on augmented sculptures, projection mapping and live events. At the center of his practice is a deep-seated interest in the ephemeral nature of “space”, both as a concept and as a physical entity. But the notion of a physical space has changed dramatically over the past two decades, and for Anadol who cites the work of the new media theorist Lev Manovich, the next logical step after architecture is to realize how the “invisible space” of electronic data flow can be just as physical, substantial and even emotional, in the hands of artists.
To achieve that, Anodol works with light as his primary medium. Light has the capacity to render virtually any solid subject intangible under the right perceptual conditions, and through his many projection mapping projects he uses light specifically to transform static, 2D, surfaces into dynamic objects that oscillate continually between the substantive to the ephemeral and back again. Indeed, the Light + Space movement of the 1970s turns out to be a key inspiration for the artist, and hints of James Turrell appear in his “Cube” and Dan Flavin in “Dim.” But Anadol is also interested in taking their ideas much further by employing contemporary technology. In some cases he’ll project onto the side of a building or in other cases he’ll project onto photographic prints that he has designed himself. Yet in each case, it’s the way in which he combines these elements that gives the work its grace. Subtle movements of lights, carefully describing pre-printed lines, shapes and forms, creates new images that ebb and flow, which in turn creates a new “reading” of the object and the space it inhabits. More importantly, the result is transcendent.
In the words of the artist: “The blur and interconnection between the boundaries—between the two realms actual/fictional and physical/virtual—signifies the threshold between the simulacrum space created by the projection technology, and the physical space where the viewer stands. This exhibition discusses the inherent spatial qualities of augmented spaces and their effect on the embodied person. Through the presented framework, the works intends to question the relativity of perception and how it informs the apprehension of our surroundings. Rather than approaching the medium as a means of escape into some disembodied techno-utopian fantasy, exhibition sees itself as a means of return, i.e. facilitating a temporary release from our habitual perceptions and culturally biased assumptions about being in the world, to enable us, however momentarily, to perceive ourselves and the world around us freshly.”
For his first solo show in the US Anodol is showing several works that engage that discrepancy between interior and exterior, mostly with projection mapping works, a new laser piece and several ‘augmented landscapes.’ For the latter, Refik has created 6 digital prints that hang on a wall much like abstract photographs. Each was designed to mimic a different digital realm, whether it’s a purely imagined, abstract image or very specific art-historical, and/or sociological references. The piece “Liminal” for instance, can be seen as an amalgam of specific landscape paintings by Thomas Cole, while “Aspect Ratio” features all the various screen sizes that now inhabit our lives on a daily basis. “Tessellation,” by contrast, contains little more than faint geometric lines on a white surface, which eventually become Lucio Fontana-like ‘cuts’ that open and expand via CGi animations. In each case Anadol combines the physical nature of an object with meticulously rendered projections that transform the static to something utterly dynamic and alive.
“The superimposition of perspectives, coexistences of moments and plurality of visual centers are implied by movement,” observes writer and critic Pelin Kirak. “And the presence of incessant movement and lack of a center in a determined space defies the very idea of representation that demands a singular and unique perspective.”
Sound, as both an artform and an idea, is also a key interest of the 27-year-old artist. He has, for instance, made large-scale, CNC-milled, 3D sculptures out of sonic elements, where the sound becomes form and vice-versa. That can be seen in his “Eleven Years and One Second” where one second of sound is visualized via software and sent to a CAD file, which in turn cuts the 3D shape of the sound into the remains of a tree trunk. Therefore, all eleven years of the tree can be seen in its rings, which in turn echo the lines of sound.