A Conversation with Maja Petric
Winston Wachter Fine Art is excited to announce Digital Perspectives, an exhibition of digital works by Maja Petric, Etsuko Ichikawa and Peter Gronquist. Each of these artists embraces the digital medium as a way to reflect on our relationship to the natural world. Each invites the audience to join the conversation in these imagined realms, through AI interactive experiences, narrative, futuristic, social commentary and looping, meditative desert landscapes. All three artists ask us to take pause and consider the world we share. Inspired by her nationally exhibited immersive installation We Are All Made of Light, Maja Petric has created a more intimate and personal interactive experience, where the viewer is a singular figure moving throughout simulated nature. In her new work, Particle Attraction multiple environments depict abstracted landscapes, such as water, earth and air. Interactivity is used to mirror the silhouette of a person viewing the piece and animates their reflection to appear as if they are emerging from the represented landscape. Through the use of AI, Petric is able to simulate the harmonious relationship with nature that so many of us strive for.
Maja Petric, Particle Attraction In The Starry Night, 2019, digital projection
What was the first digital artwork which resonated with you?
In 1996 I learned about Stelarc’s Ear on Arm, an ongoing performance involving ‘growing’ the third ear on the artist’s arm. It is an actual ear, that has been a cell-cultivated and surgically attached to his left arm. The ear is connected to the Internet and allows Internet users to hear everything that Stelarc’s ear hears.
Stelarc's performance is a powerful thought provocation on the topic of what it means to have a human body at the time when we can 3D-print organs using stem cell technology. His work made me consider if we can live forever through replicas of our bodies and wonder about the power of technology to impact human evolution.
Why did you choose to create digital artwork?
I am an artist developing immersive art installations that evoke the sublimity of nature. Evoking nature allows me to engage people with their innate connection with the environment and other fellow humans to the degree that one can recognize unity with something greater than oneself in a vast and interconnected universe. To do this, I work on expanding the available artistic apparatus through new technologies. During experimentations across different media, I discovered that both natural and artificial light is an immensely potent tool to engage people’s perception, emotion, memory, and imagination.
Digital art, and in particular the combination of light art and other new technologies such as artificial intelligence, computer vision and spatialized sound, allows me to extend the way people experience space, both cognitively and emotionally.
What is the hardest aspect about creating digital artwork?
As mentioned above, in my artwork, I focus on awakening a sense of aliveness and connection with other living beings. I do so through the appropriation of the cutting-edge technologies that can provide new ways of creating a multisensory experience and evoke the sensation of being alive and connected. To understand what technology advances can lend us in the understanding of what it means to be human, I need to have a general knowledge of history and the latest computer science, engineering and computer ethics. The hardest part is the intricacy of acquiring this knowledge at a rapid pace and collaborating with computer scientists, both of these being essential ingredients to all my projects.
What is the most exciting aspect of creating digital artwork?
I believe that new technologies can be used to augment the traditional means that artists have been using so far to generate art. Such expansion of the artistic apparatus allows for new kinds of expressions and experiences. In turn, such new forms of art can extend our comprehension of the world and what it means to be alive in the interconnected universe. For me, the most exciting part is to be appropriating digital technology into a vehicle for reaching new emotional terrains that could not be accessible otherwise.
How is the experience of your digital work different for the viewer from your other artwork?
Many of my new media artworks are programmed to be interactive and respond to people's presence and behavior. The viewer’s participation is an integral part of the artwork and it can cause the artwork itself to change. With such an approach, my digital artwork fosters a dialogue with the surrounding environment and the viewer’s perception on a level that would be impossible to reach with static artworks. Besides being interactive, my artworks are designed to algorithmically change their look and feel, to provide an ever-evolving and unique experience.
Do you think digital artwork has changed the expectations viewers have for exhibitions?
This is certainly the case for a specific type of audience that is keeping up with the new media art, but the world at large is yet to make a mental shift towards a new kind of experience. I believe this change is inevitable.
Digital Perspectives, Winston Wächter Fine Art, Seattle, November 7-December 21, 2019