Archive Dreaming 2017, Turkey, Istanbul

Data-Driven Immersive Space

Created by Refik Anadol Studio in collaboration with Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence program, and installed at the SALT Gatala, Istanbul, Turkey, Archive Dreaming is a 6 meters wide circular installation that employs machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents.

Commissioned to work with SALT Research collections, artist Refik Anadol employed machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents. Interactions of the multidimensional data found in the archives are, in turn, translated into an immersive media installation. Archive Dreaming is user-driven; however, when idle, the installation “dreams” of unexpected correlations among documents. The resulting high-dimensional data and interactions are translated into an architectural immersive space. Shortly after receiving the commission, Anadol was made a resident artist for Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence Program where he closely collaborated with Mike Tyka and explored cutting-edge developments in the field of machine intelligence in an environment that brings together artists and engineers. Developed during this residency, his intervention Archive Dreaming transforms the gallery space on floor -1 at SALT Galata into an all-encompassing environment that intertwines history with the contemporary, and challenges immutable concepts of the archive, while destabilizing archive-related questions with machine learning algorithms. In this project, a temporary immersive architectural space is created as a canvas with light and data applied as materials. This radical effort to deconstruct the framework of an illusory space will transgress the normal boundaries of the viewing experience of a library and the conventional flat cinema projection screen, into a three dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of an archive visualized with machine learning algorithms. By training a neural network with images of 1,700,000 documents at SALT Research the main idea is to create an immersive installation with architectural intelligence to reframe memory, history and culture in museum perception for 21st century through the lens of machine intelligence.


Building or project owner : Refik Anadol Studio

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : Refik Anadol Studio

Light hardware (LED hardware) : Laser projection

Lighting control software : VVVV

Project co-ordination : SALT Research

Interaction design/ programming : Refik Anadol Studio

Project sponsor/ support : Google Artists and Machine Intelligence


Facade type and geometry (structure) : A mirrored corridor leads into a circular room covered floor to ceiling with mirrored panels. The combination of a circular space and reflective cladding creates the sensation of infinite space

Kind of light creation : this sense of endless expansion pairs nicely with the machine intelligence employed, which is constantly generating new documents that exist only in alternate histories or possible futures.

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : Four Sony WUXGA projectors illuminate the room and display the data previously tucked away within the shelves of the archives. Obvious advantages aside, the use of projectors serves to call reference to the early instances of the democratization of information

Pixel distance : a single page interacts with a single reader, a projected page interacts with everyone in the room.

Urban situation : The resolution projected onto the circular space is 7680 x 1200. As the user interacts with the installation they can browse the millions of documents and images within the archive which is rendered as a 3-dimensional form that is organized determined by how similar the machine learning algorithm finds the documents. When the installation is idle the machine hallucinates new possible contents.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction

Community or communities involved : Situated at SALT Galata in Istanbul, Turkey, this installation finds itself at the heart of a bustling metropolis.

Host organization : 1) Activate Archive: Pre-Processing 1.7 Million Documents, Metadata Analysis, Semantic Data Blocks, Similar Data Structures, Feature Extraction, TSNE 3D Point Cloud, Perplexity Experiments, Cluster Analysis, Data Universe of Archive - Latent Space

Legal form : 2) Responsive Mode: Responsive Archive Environment, Spatial Machine Intelligence

Issues addressed : 3) Idle Mode, Hallucinated Documents Created by A.I.


Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol Studio

Refik Anadol Studio