Art

Melting Memories: A Data-Driven Installation that Shows the Brain’s Inner Workings

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Media artist Refik Anadol’s work Melting Memories combines data paintings, light projections, and augmented data sculptures to visibly demonstrate how the brain recalls memories. The installation was created with a custom 16 x 20 foot LED media wall and CNC milled rigid foam, and was shown earlier in 2018 at Pilevneli Gallery in Istanbul. In the work, seething swirls move across the work’s surface, resembling cresting ocean waves, blossoming flowers, and shifting sand.

To generate the data, Anadol conducted experiments at the Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. An artist statement describes the technical process: “Anadol gathers data on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control from an EEG (electroencephalogram) that measures changes in brain wave activity and provides evidence of how the brain functions over time. These data sets constitute the building blocks for the unique algorithms that the artist needs for the multi-dimensional visual structures on display.”

Anadol is a media artist and director who specializes in site-specific public art that explores the intersection of physical and digital reality. Born in Istanbul, the artist is now based in Los Angeles, where he is a visiting researcher and lecturer at UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. You can see more of his work on his website, as well as on Instagram, Vimeo, and Behance.

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