For someone not yet thirty, the Turkish-born artist Refik Anadol has been remarkably prolific in the wrapping of large-scale cultural institutions—museums, university buildings, historical landmarks—with technologically formidable digital video projections. He’s created civic-scale digital installations and performances in Turkey, Germany, Austria, Canada, and New Mexico, often generating imagery based on musical scores or field recordings. He is currently at work with Frank Gehry’s architectural firm on a plan for next year to wrap the Disney Concert Hall with a kinetic visual composition based on Gustavo Dudamel’s movements over the course of a performance. All this while completing his second MFA at UCLA. (He earned his first in Turkey.)
In “The Active Apparatus and Liminal Landscapes,” his first U.S. solo show at Young Projects, Anadol proves no less capable on the intimate scale of a gallery exhibition. The show, installed in a scrupulously darkened unit deep in the belly of the Pacific Design Center, is an immersive maze of projections and mirrors, with nine individual video loops and a hypnotic little dance with a laser beam in the back room, all accompanied by an austere Ryuichi Sakamoto composition.
What’s surprising, given Anadol’s background and the scale of his ambitions, is not the technological complexity of the production but its subtlety. The videos, all of which are black and white and abstract in nature, cycle through various permutations of geometric form with a soft, meditative absorption that seems to draw the viewer directly into the artist’s sphere of contemplation. A sketchbook to the artist’s larger canvases, the show affirms in some sense the integrity of those endeavors, and makes one more inclined to embrace the coming spectacle at Disney Hall.