Miami NFT artist Refik Anadol looks to Nasa for new UK experiential art show

The Reel Store in Coventry is the UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery

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Courtesy of Refik Anadol Studio

Courtesy of Refik Anadol Studio

The boom in “immersive art” continues apace with the launch next year of the first permanent space dedicated to interactive digital art in the UK. Located in the city of Coventry and called the Reel Store, the new gallery will be housed in the former Coventry Telegraph building where the city’s newspapers were once printed. It is due to open next April as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations,

The inaugural exhibition at the Reel Store—to be shown across an 800 sq. m fixed-projection mapping canvas—will be devised by the Turkish artist Refik Anadol. “The product of a long-term collaboration with Nasa, this exhibition [Machine Memoirs: Space] uses artificial intelligence (AI) to reimagine two million publicly available images of space taken by NASA satellites and telescopes, and the International Space Station, capturing the deepest regions of outer space,” says a project statement.

Anadol’s Machine Hallucinations—Coral Dreams (2021) was a talking point during Art Basel Miami Beach earlier this month. The work, shown on Miami Beach, was launched as part of an exhibition organised by the NFT platform Aorist. “Anadol and his team collected 300 million nature theme focused data and used 1,742,772 images of coral from publicly available social media platforms and processed them with machine learning classification models,” according to Aorist.

The Reel Store is backed by a host of funders including the UK government's Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport, Coventry City Council, the Patrick Trust in Birmingham and the government’s Getting Building Fund, a £900m pot aimed at supporting “economic recovery across the country”. 

The Coventry initiative reflects the ongoing trend for “experiential” art, especially among younger audiences, which involve experiencing large-scale digital extravaganzas that can be photographed and Instagrammed. High-profile immersive experiences include Superblue which opened in an enormous 50,000 sq. ft warehouse in the Allapattah neighbourhood of Miami in May. Works by Es Devlin, teamLab and James Turrell are currently on show in the Miami space; full-priced adult tickets cost $36. Ticket prices for the Reel Store are to be confirmed.

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