June 10th, 2008, was a special day for the music industry, particularly for the hip hop community. It marked the simultaneous release of two highly anticipated albums: Lil Wayne’s classic The Carter III and N.E.R.D.’s Seeing Sounds.
Both albums were eagerly awaited by fans and critics alike, and their release on the same day intensified the buzz surrounding them. While Lil Wayne’s album was a commercial and critical success, N.E.R.D.’s Seeing Sounds also made a significant impact on the music scene. The album showcased the band’s signature sound, blending elements of rock, funk, and hip hop, and introduced many listeners to the concept of synesthesia.
When I first listened to the N.E.R.D.’s Seeing Sounds album, I became aware of the phenomenon of synesthesia, which I found fascinating, particularly in relation to art creation. However, it was always challenging to convey synesthesia as it is more of a sensation than a visual experience. This changed after I attended Refik Anadol’s exhibit at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery. Anadol’s mastery of creating dynamic and colorful art triggered similar synesthetic experiences in me and others, which were impossible to ignore. In my opinion, Anadol’s Living Art exhibit is the most remarkable art exhibition in Los Angeles this year.
To give some background information about synesthesia, synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one’s sensory or cognitive pathway that leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
In other words, people with synesthesia experience a blending or crossing of their senses, such as seeing colors when they hear music or associating specific tastes with certain words or letters.There are many different types of synesthesia, including grapheme-color synesthesia, in which letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored; chromesthesia, in which sounds evoke specific colors; and lexical-gustatory synesthesia, in which words evoke specific tastes. Synesthesia is thought to be a result of differences in the way that the brain processes sensory information, particularly in the areas of the brain that process multiple senses. It is estimated to affect around 4% of the population, and is more common among women than men. While synesthesia is not considered a disorder, it can be a source of artistic inspiration for some individuals.
As someone who values solitude and seeks inspiration from music, I often attend art exhibits alone. The combination allows me to clear my mind and generate ideas for my creative projects. I made sure to carve out time from my schedule to visit Refik Anadol’s Living Paintings, which opened on February 14, 2023, at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery. Anadol’s first major solo exhibition in Los Angeles has been highly anticipated, and for good reason. The exhibit presents Anadol’s complete series of artworks inspired by California-related datasets, offering an immersive experience that delves into his fascination with the environments that influence his artistic vision.
“Anadol’s art is a unique blend of technology, data, and architecture, creating immersive environments that activate multiple senses and evoke a sense of belonging.” – KCRW, a National Public Radio (NPR) Santa Monica, California, December 12, 2019
The primary thread that runs throughout his groundbreaking visualizations of the unseen world is the utilization of data as pigment to create enriched immersive environments. For Living Paintings, Anadol harnesses environmental data such as wind speed, temperature, and air pressure collected from sensors around Los Angeles, images of national parks in California, and publicly available wind forecast data collected from the Pacific Ocean.
Through his unique approach to fluid dynamics and machine learning algorithms, Anadol presents entirely new data narratives. His AI Data Paintings and Sculptures extend a dynamic relationship between art, technology, and architecture into the future, inviting poetic and futuristic contemplation of purposeful human-machine collaborations.
Anadol’s work would be considered new media art. Well, what is new media art?
New media art, which includes new genres of art like virtual art, computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, interactive art, sound art, Internet art, video games, robotics, 3D printing, and cyborg art, is a defining feature of much contemporary art. Many art schools and major universities now offer majors in “New Genres” or “New Media,” and a growing number of graduate programs have emerged internationally.
Anadol’s exhibition is an excellent example of how new media art involves complex curation and preservation practices that make collecting, installing, and exhibiting the works harder than most other mediums. Many cultural centers and museums have been established to cater to the advanced needs of new media art. ” – L.A.’s Cultural Centers Can Help Preserve the Legacy of New Media Art,” published on September 17, 2020
Living Paintings also features Anadol’s iconic Infinity Room, which has traveled around the world and been experienced by more than 2 million people. This iteration of Infinity Room pays homage to Los Angeles by translating its data into a mesmerizing immersive installation. ” – LACMA Partners with Five Currents to Bring Iconic Art Installations to Life,” published on August 23, 2019
Upon walking through the exhibit and immersing myself in Anadol’s vivid and vibrant artwork, I was overcome with a sensation of sensory overload.
The experience was reminiscent of a psychedelic encounter, yet without the use of any external substances. The live paintings provided a natural and visually stimulating feast for the eyes. However, the experience was somewhat marred by the overwhelming number of viewers in the gallery.
The overcrowding detracted from the overall experience, as visitors were constantly taking selfies and pictures of the artwork, including myself. As a result, it was challenging to truly appreciate the art and take in the large space around us. However, it was heartening to witness people of all ages coming together to support new contemporary art. In a time when generational divides are often a topic of conversation, it was refreshing to see individuals from diverse backgrounds and age groups bonding over artwork that held broad appeal. The shared experience of appreciating art created a sense of community that transcended age or any other demographic factors, reminding us of the commonalities that unite us all.
Although I was unable to experience the infinity room at the Jeffrey Deitch due to a lengthy 2-hour wait, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the exhibit, especially if we have a non-stop rainy season like we just experienced. The captivating and immersive nature of Anadol’s work is certain to make the wait worthwhile, providing a unique and engaging sensory experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.