Dazzling multimedia art installation inspires personal contemplation within the campus community

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As dusk gave way to dusk on campus, the thousands of people gathered in concentric arcs in the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden shared a wondering silence. In front of them, on a giant screen, undulating shapes metamorphosed into brilliant explosions of color that danced in rhythm to the sound of the sea and crescendo strings.

The dynamic multimedia installation “Moment of Reflection” – created by UCLA alumnus and media artist Refik Anadol using millions of images of the natural world – invited participants to transcend their surroundings and contemplate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.

“There are times when the language of art can speak to us most deeply,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, addressing those gathered. The special evening ceremony was designed to allow members of the Bruin community and the public to take stock of the pandemic’s toll and remember those we have lost. “It can allow us to hear what’s in our hearts and it can help us understand what we need to heal.”

Block expressed his gratitude for the diverse audience of students, faculty, staff and visitors and welcomed the families and loved ones of those who have passed away over the past two years. Acknowledging that the pandemic affects everyone differently, Block encouraged everyone to explore the ideas and emotions that Anadol’s work has provoked and inspired.

“I wouldn’t assume to know your feelings that you might feel when you think back to the past two years,” he said. “Loss, gratitude, grief, anger, hope, determination, admiration. You may feel all, some or none of these things, but no matter how you feel, we want this space to provide you with space for reflection and renewal. We want this space to serve you.

Anadol created the multi-sensory experience that commemorates the beauty of nature as something that could aid in our collective renewal through the power of art. Anadol and the team of artists, architects, data scientists and researchers (half of whom are Bruins) who together form Refik Anadol Studio, created the data sculpture specifically for the UCLA campus in feeding machine learning algorithms a dataset of over 300 million photographs of nature, including landscapes, flowers, trees, clouds, water, lakes and the ocean. These massive, publicly available datasets, which Anadol calls “memories of humanity,” are the foundation of what artificial intelligence learns to “dream” about nature from an alternate perspective — or what which the artist calls “the mind of a machine.”

“I’m very happy to say that at UCLA…during these difficult days, we are finding a way, a light, to interact with life’s challenges and create art that hopefully touches our minds and our souls. soul,” said Anadol, who earned an MFA from the Department of Media Arts in Design at UCLA, where he is currently a lecturer. “Light – a theme of my work – can be seen as a universal symbol of hope and unity. And tonight I would like to lead our community in a thoughtful demonstration that plays on this theme of light and connection .You each received a bag when you arrived.”

As he said, guests pulled out palm-sized orbs that lit up, creating a sea of ​​dots of light.

“I would like to give a moment…to recognize the light and unity as a community.”

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