Refik Anadol lights up MSG’s Las Vegas sphere with collages of outer space and nature

Ephemeral Exosphere

Refik Anadol lights up MSG’s Las Vegas sphere with collages of outer space and nature

Machine Hallucinations: Sphere by Refik Anadol is the first artist commission on the MSG Exosphere. (Courtesy Sphere Entertainment)

Earlier this summer a new entertainment venue slash billboard opened on the Las Vegas Strip dubbed the Exosphere.  The Populous-designed piece is the “largest LED screen on earth.” Since it opened, Exosphere has projected an unnervingly realistic, blinking eyeball; basketball-themed graphics; and a fireworks show across its surface.

Last week Exosphere featured its first artist commission Machine Hallucinations: Sphere by Refik Anadol. “I am extremely honored to be the first artist to utilize the exterior of Sphere,” Anadol said in a press release. “This opportunity aligns perfectly with our studio’s long-term mission of embedding media arts into architecture to create living architectural pieces that are in constant interaction with their environments.”

The patterns displayed on the sphere pull from data sets of outer space and nature imagery. (Courtesy Sphere Entertainment)

Anadol’s design is rooted in the media artist’s work with “data aesthetics.” The abstracted patterns rendered around the sphere pull from data sets to display ephemeral collages of imagery taken from objects in outer space and nature. The digital installation comprises of two “chapters” which include “Machine Hallucinations: Space” and “Machine Hallucinations: Nature.”

“Refik Anadol’s artistic approach made him the ideal artist to partner with first to showcase his incredible work using the full-scale capabilities of the Exosphere, an incomparable canvas for artists who want to explore their artistic expression on a global stage and push the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Guy Barnett, senior vice president of brand strategy and creative development for Sphere Entertainment.

For the space component Anadol borrowed photographic images captured by satellites and spacecraft, including the International Space Station and the Hubble telescopes. While the nature themed graphics of the installation pull from 300 million publicly available images of vegetation, landscapes, and ecologies. Coupled within “Machine Hallucinations: Nature” is “Sphere: Winds of Las Vegas,” which uses data sets of wind and gust speeds, precipitation, and air pressure from sensors located across Las Vegas to add a multisensory element to the piece.

Machine Hallucinations is on view for four months. (Courtesy Sphere Entertainment)

Anadol’s commission is a continuation of his work with machine learning technology. The artist’s piece Unsupervised is currently on view at the MoMA and similarly scoured data sets from its art collection to create a massive, site-specific digital screen.

Machine Hallucinations will be on view in Las Vegas for four months. Later this year, the sphere, which can accommodate up to 18,000 spectators, has booked several talent performances, including a concert headlined by U2.