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.