The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has expanded its digital art collection by acquiring works from two key figures in the space: Refik Anadol and Ian Cheng. The move further cements MoMA’s reputation for staying ahead of the curve in contemporary art.
A Deep Dive into ‘Unsupervised – Machine Hallucinations – MoMA’
Refik Anadol’s artwork titled ‘Unsupervised – Machine Hallucinations – MoMA (2022)’ is a striking example of generative art that blends machine learning with artistic vision. Anadol’s work employs a machine-learning model trained on MoMA’s expansive visual archive. This model then interprets and synthesizes fresh images inspired by the museum’s existing collection.
Debuting late last year, the exhibition has been extended through October 29, due to its immense popularity and the considerable crowds it has attracted. Notably, the art piece also includes an accompanying NFT (Non-Fungible Token), which adds another layer of digital ownership and authenticity to the work.
The artwork has been met with mixed reviews. Jerry Saltz from New York Magazine likened it to a “lava lamp,” whereas Lloyd Wise of Artforum defended its innovative dialogue with modernist art forms.
The Tech Titans Behind the Donation
Ryan Zurrer, a tech entrepreneur and one of the most prolific digital art collectors, donated the piece. He did so through his 1OF1 Collection, in collaboration with the RFC Collection spearheaded by Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile and Desiree Casoni. In an interview, Zurrer expressed his enthusiasm for MoMA’s foresight in capturing the “cultural zeitgeist,” especially concerning artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
With immense joy and a profound sense of honor, I announce the acquisition of @refikanadol ‘s — Machine Hallucinations — MoMA' by @MuseumModernArt. This pivotal moment has been made possible through the generous contribution by the #RFCCollection, led by Desiree Casoni and… pic.twitter.com/E3gnQ28ypQ
— Pablo (@pablorfraile) October 10, 2023
The Broader Implications
The donation and the subsequent acquisition mark a watershed moment for the art world, signaling the seamless integration of traditional and digital mediums. Both collectors and MoMA have voiced their excitement for the groundbreaking work’s permanent home at the museum.
Refik Anadol, a Turkish-American artist known for his data-driven public art installations, has frequently used AI algorithms to bring art and technology together. His projects range from visualizing climate change data to immersive installations at renowned venues like the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The Parallel World of Ian Cheng’s 3FACE
Alongside Anadol, MoMA also acquired Ian Cheng’s ‘3FACE (2022),’ a blockchain-based generative artwork. Cheng, who is based in New York, is famous for his “live simulations” that examine themes such as evolution and artificial intelligence.
The Museum of Modern Art has added groundbreaking digital artworks by Refik Anadol and Ian Cheng to its collection. Anadol’s ‘Unsupervised’ employs machine learning to create a dynamic generative artwork. The piece has garnered significant attention and has also been donated as an NFT. It symbolizes the meeting point of traditional art forms and modern technology, indicating a bright future for digital art at mainstream institutions.
Image Credit: Museum of Modern Art