casa batllo living architecture

Casa Batlló: Living Architecture

There are few events in the world that can draw 45,000 people for a 15 minute performance. But on Saturday May 7, Barcelona prepared for one of the most highly anticipated events of the month. Innovative technology combined with historic and beloved architecture fused in the work of Turkish-American media artist and director Refik Anadol to create Casa Batlló: Living Architecture. 

The Dynamic/Data Sculpture NFT uses Barcelona environmental data simultaneously with Gaudi’s unique architectural data. The incredible sound design that accompanied the light show was by Kerim Karao, a composer and sound-artist from Berlin. 

What started as a public art AI Data Sculpture replicating Casa Battló at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, finally made its way to Barcelona for a special one-night showing.  Now it goes back to New York and will meet with collectors at Christie’s Auction house on May 10th, where it will be the only digital art auctioned alongside Warhol, Van Gogh, Monet and Basquiat. The artist is also committed to neurodiversity: 10% of the proceeds from the auction will go to Associació Aprenem Autisme and Fundación Adana.

The day before, I had seen people setting up the massive projectors amidst the usual bustle of Passeig de Gràcia, and through talking to my peers learned about the event scheduled for the following day. The show occurred every half hour Saturday night starting at 9:30pm, and my friends and I managed to squeeze our way to the front at 11pm eager for the show to begin while in awe of the number of people on Passeig de Gràcia. The 10 minute countdown was displayed on Casa Battló, and while we waited we joked that this was arguably more exciting than the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop countdown in New York City. 

The show itself exceeded any and all expectations and was by far one of the coolest things I’ve seen in Barcelona. The building came to life, as the combination of colors, lights and music worked together to create a 3D effect that made Casa Battló shift and appear to dance. Deep blues, striking reds and oranges, and bold laser light effects contributed to the vibrancy of the show. 

Refik Anadol’s art is representative of a new wave in artistic progression, and is in the same vein as “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” and Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror” exhibitions. These works of art focus on manipulating our senses and challenges our concepts of what is real and what is not.  His art has been featured all over the world and his permanent art installations are ‘Interconnected’, a 2,147 square feet of animated art screen at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, ‘Virtual Applique’ at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, or ‘Data Chrystal’ a large-scale, 3-D printed, A.I. data sculpture installed at the Portland Building in Portland, Oregon.

Anadol has received several awards and recognition for this work including the Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award, German Design Award, UCLA Art+Architecture Moss Award, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award, SEGD Global Design Awards and Google’s Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award.

For those who missed the live event, you’re in luck. The website has uploaded the live stream to the website and can be viewed here. I suggest watching in full screen for the best experience possible, though it will be tough to beat standing underneath and watching the building I’ve passed for two months change in front of my eyes. 

Barcelona offers other immersive art experiences, such as Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon with more than 1000 square meters of screen, experience with virtual reality glasses, exhibition spaces and interactive tools. It’s an experience worth trying at least once, and is a fun way to explore the works of iconic artists in a new way. 

By Leah Pratley

About the author

Hello! I’m a student at the University of Oregon studying abroad in Barcelona for 8 weeks. I’m excited to be here and contribute to Frikifish, which allows me to explore the city and all of the incredible art it has to offer. I enjoy reading, writing, going to museums, and the beach. That being said, I couldn’t picture a better place than Barcelona. Hope you enjoy following along with me!

leah pratley

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