In the Studio with Refik Anadol

A photographer spends six hours with artist Refik Anadol on his journey to make Walt Disney Concert Hall dream.

By LA Phil

WDCH Dreams – Exterior Project Rendering Loop by Refik Anadol StudioLA Phil

Media artist Refik Anadol is best known for transforming architectural spaces and façades into canvases for live media arts. With his latest installation for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Refik sets out to design a creative, computerized “mind” that can dream.

“When humans dream, our minds are hard at work, processing memories to form a new combination of images and ideas,” explains Anadol. By working with the LA Phil’s digital archives – its "memory" – Anadol hopes to create a radical visualization of the LA Phil’s 100-year history and project it onto the exterior steel skin of Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Above: A rendering of a scene from Refik Anadol's WDCH Dreams projected onto the surface of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Refik Anadol video conferences with Google creative technologist Ross Goodwin. (2018-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

Most mornings, Anadol arrives early to video conference with members of his team. The team of designers, technologists, and engineers have come together from San Francisco, New York, London, Berlin, and Istanbul.

Refik Anadol (2019-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

Refik Anadol's studio – a former auto-repair shop – is located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Refik Anadol edits WDCH Dreams (2018-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

With less than three weeks before opening day, Refik Anadol is focused on delivering a musical score and making final adjustments to the 12-minute performative element of the media installation.

Information designer prepares a test projection to preview an accompanying interactive installation inside the Ira Gershwin Gallery, inside Walt Disney Concert Hall. (2011-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

Nicholas Boss, an information designer who joined the studio in 2016, begins to calibrate a test projection of an accompanying installation designed for the Ira Gershwin Gallery inside Walt Disney Concert Hall.

A fan ventilates Refik Anadol Studio by Jackie RussoLA Phil

On an average day, the temperature in the studio often rises above 100°F. The servers are stored in an air-conditioned closet, but in the studio, there are only a handful of fans. “AC is out of the question,” explains Efsun Erkilic, Anadol’s wife. “We are already at max power.”

Refik Anadol and Ho Man Leung begin to assemble mini-projectors. (2018-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

Refik Anadol begins to assemble mini projectors with Ho Man Leung, a VR engineer. This will help the team simulate the projection onto the surface of a miniature model of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

VR engineer Ho Man Leung prepares a test projection on a miniature model of Walt Disney Concert Hall. (2018-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

Each mini projector represents 3 or more projectors that will be used on location. The final installation will run on 42 large projectors with 50k visual resolution, 8-channel sound, and 1.2M luminance in total.

LA Phil's audio universe represents their entire performance history over the last 100 yearsLA Phil

Computational artist Parag K. Mital with sound designers Kerim Karaoglu and Robert Thomas explored the LA Phil archive with machine intelligence tools. LA Phil's entire audio archive (over 18,000 hours of audio) was divided into nearly 10 million segments and each was then characterized by 256 attributes such as pitch, timbre, amplitude, tempo, tonality, and key. These attributes were then projected into a 6-dimensional space and represented as a 3D plane with space (x, y, z) + color (r, g, b) mapped to the 6-dimensions.

Within this new data universe, Refik Anadol’s team hand-picked specific memories and curated a unique soundtrack that accompanied the visual narrative of WDCH Dreams.

Refik Anadol (right) and information designer Nicholas Boss project an accompanying exhibition to help test interactive features with a Microsoft Surface. (2011-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

By mid-afternoon, Refik Anadol and Nicholas Boss test the interactive features of an accompanying installation that will allow visitors to fly through a visual landscape of the LA Phil’s history.

Refik Anadol (2018-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

“I thought it was time to take these beautiful memories and organize them into a story.” – Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol makes final edits to a trailer to accompany the LA Phil’s press announcement as his wife, Efsun Erkilic, looks on. (2011-09-11) by Jackie RussoLA Phil

As the day draws to a close, Refik Anadol makes final edits to a video teaser that will accompany the press announcement as his wife, Efsun Erkilic, looks on.

Credits: Story

Photographs by Jackie Russo

Refik Anadol Studio:
Carrie He
Christina Moushoul
Efsun Erkilic
Kian Khiaban
Ho Man Leung
Nicholas Boss
Nate Mohler
Raman Mustafa
Refik Anadol
Toby Heinemann

David Gann
Kenric McDowell
Kerim Karaoglu
Kyle McLean
Parag K. Mital
Robert Thomas
Ross Goodwin
Sebastian Neitsch
Simon Weckert

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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