Refik Anadol Creates Multisensory Data Sculpture Out of Rumi Archives
World-renowned media artist Refik Anadol unveiled his latest project, “Rumi Dreams”, at
İstanbul’s biggest culture and arts event, the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival. The Turkish artist’s
new multisensory artwork was created by visualizing a vast archive of 13 th -century mystic Mevlâna
Jalaluddin Rumi related documents through an AI-based machine learning algorithm. Aiming to
present Rumi’s worldview to a wide range of audiences, “Rumi Dreams” offers a 6-and-a-half-minute-long immersive experience of motion, light, and sound.
Media artist Refik Anadol presented his new project “Rumi Dreams” at İstanbul’s biggest culture and
arts event, the Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival. The digital installation has attracted significant
interest ever since its debut in İstanbul’s iconic Atatürk Cultural Center, created to commemorate the
750th death anniversary of the legendary mystic, “Rumi Dreams” offers a 6-and-a-half-minute-long
multisensory experience inspired by Rumi’s teachings and cultural legacy.
Millions of Documents Collected to Visualize Rumi’s Universe
Refik Anadol and his studio collected a multidisciplinary dataset, including copies of Rumi’s
monumental work Masnavi in 26 languages, millions of lodge and archive documents, manuscripts,
and recordings of Sufi music and performances. The data used within the artwork was collected with
the coordination of Konya Metropolitan Municipality, Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye State
Archives, State Archive of the Prime Ministry, Konya Mevlâna Museum, Sarajevo Gazi Husrev Bey
Library, Selçuk University and other institutions. Photographs were taken at the Konya Mevlâna
Museum, and places bearing the traces of Rumi have also been added to data sets. Architectural
plans and foundation certificate charters of all Mevlevi lodges worldwide have been added to visual
and written data files.
As one of the world’s universal cultural icons, Rumi is known for his exquisite poems and words of
wisdom. Inspired by Rumi’s call to “find the light within”, Rumi Dreams aims to present Mevlâna
Jalaluddin Rumi’s universe to a wide range of audiences. Refik Anadol and his team believed that to
symbolize and materialize Rumi’s call in a short period was only possible with digital art. With this
conviction, they set out to convey the mystic’s undying call by appealing to visual and auditory
senses, creating Rumi-inspired dreams generated by artificial intelligence. As an artistic
manifestation of the transition between the meanings of light, knowledge, and motion, “Rumi
Dreams” invites visitors, in Rumi’s words, to “find the light within that lights the world”.
Rumi Dreams: A First in the World
Refik Anadol’s “Rumi Dreams” marks a first in the world with its scope. The multisensory project
immerses visitors into the artwork and Rumi’s worldview, introducing those unfamiliar with the poet
and mystic’s teachings to Sufism’s transcendental tradition.
The world’s greatest Sufi poet and mystic, Mevlâna Jamaluddin Rumi, is famous for his lyrics and epic
Masnavi. Rumi’s writings heavily influenced mystical thought and literature globally, his popularity
becoming a global cultural phenomenon. UNESCO declared 2007 as the “International Rumi Year”
and described Rumi as “one of the great humanists, philosophers and poets who belong to humanity
in its entirety”.
Rumi’s death is honoured every year with Seb-i Arus (the “Wedding Night”) ceremonies in Konya,
where numerous exhibitions, conferences, concerts and “sema” performances are held to
commemorate the poet.