Insight: LAS Light art space launch + Refik Anadol at Kraftwerk Berlin

Text by CLOT Magazine

Refik Anadol Latent Being, LAS, Kraftwerk Berlin, 2019. Phto credit: Camille Blake
Refik Anadol Latent Being, LAS, Kraftwerk Berlin, 2019. Photo credit: Camille Blake

LAS Light Art Space is a non-profit art foundation working at the intersection of art, new technologies and science. At the centre of a diverse spectrum of activities will be exhibitions by contemporary and pioneering historical artists using and interpreting the medium of light across a broad range of practices. Based in Berlin and engaging internationally, LAS works closely with artists, commissioning site-specific installations and spatial interventions.

Human concepts of light epitomize cultural reflections on space, time and nature: in art and philosophy, but also in scientific innovation, in communication or in technology. Think of the light art masters such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Dan Flavin and Mary Coarse, to name a few. Bringing these disciplines into dialogue serves as the central motif for the founding of LAS Light Art Space, with the aim to challenge the perception of our present and stimulate visions for our future.

Prior to the opening of permanent premises in Berlin that will include spaces for temporary exhibitions as well as permanent installations, LAS presents preliminary projects at selected locations in Berlin and around the globe. Selected artists featured in the 2020-2021 programme will include Laurie Anderson and the aforementioned Robert Irwin, artist. Quantum computing and virtual reality, two of the most concerning and pushing technological advancements, will be addressed as key themes.

The first of their temporary exhibitions just opened its doors last Thursday with an exhibition from Refik Anadol, one of the most exciting artists currently working with AI, at the imponent set up of Kraftwerk Berlin.

Refik Anadol Latent Being, LAS, Kraftwerk Berlin, 2019. Phto credit: Camille Blake
Refik Anadol Latent Being, LAS, Kraftwerk Berlin, 2019. Photo credit: Camille Blake

Latent Being is a newly-commissioned immersive, audio-visual installation that focuses on artificial intelligence and its creative potential whilst posing questions about our relationship to it. The installation explores aesthetics at the convergence of human interaction and machine intelligence. Visitors walk through a constantly-evolving and immersive environment of Berlin-related digitised visual and sonic memories.

Anadol employs cutting-edge machine learning algorithms, high volumes of digitised data, and real-time tracking of the visitors’ movement patterns. Representations of the city, the space and the audience’s physical presence are processed by the machine and transformed into A.I. data paintings, depicted on a monumental LED screen. For Anadol, the machine-hallucinated images come to represent collective memory, hidden layers of history, and the consciousness of a city that, otherwise, might remain unseen. The project is based on an algorithm developed by NVIDIA researchers called StyleGAN (Style-Based Generator Architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks), which was then modified with custom latent space explorer software developed by Refik Anadol Studio.

The installation turns the vast space of Kraftwerk Berlin into a temporary A.I.-human ecosystem in which visitors and the architecture become performers by providing constant input into the ‘mind’ of the machine. The artist’s work investigates philosophical foundations of machine consciousness and memory and questions how perception and experience of time, space, actions and movement radically change with artificial intelligence generating new, independent formats.

The accompanying programme, LAS+, will expand on these themes, debuting a new work by Amnesia Scanner and featuring a performance by Holly Herndon.

(Media courtesy of LAS)
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