My work is about changing the perception of space in function of art. Therefore, the subjects of my work are perception, space and, art. To change perception, I study sensation, experience, and phenomenology. To create spatial situations, I practice designing spaces, fabricating structures, manipulating materials, and integrating lighting and audiovisual systems. The core of my artistic research is the pursuit of the unknowable— the sublime.
The sublime has been a subject in philosophy and art since circa 1200 B.C. when the sage Veda Vyasa described it as a mystery in the sacred Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita. Since then, the meaning of the term has been vigorously debated, but it remains indefinable. My interest is not to define the sublime. Critical history has proven that the sublime cannot be precisely put into words, just as the meaning of life is inherently unknowable.
Postmodern French philosopher and literary theorist Jean-François Lyotard recognized avant-garde art as a novel opportunity for accessing the sublime. He argued that the nature of avant-garde modern art has the unique potential to manipulate the balance of senses, reason, and emotion in a manner that results in a sensation of pleasurable pain. My further investigation is in practice of art that carefully entices senses, reason, and emotion in a way that results in an experience of the unknowable.
Artists including Anish Kapoor, Mark Rothko, Bill Viola, and James Turrell marked the twentieth century as an age of expanding our sensing apparatus to experience the sublime. Through their abstract but integrated use of materials, space, color, light, and image, they excite our senses and intrigue our minds to the point of reaching the essence of the unknowable. The success of their work is in experimental manipulation of senses through which the space is experienced cognitively and emotionally. Their innovative use of materials that engage sight, hearing, touch, smell, emotion, memory, and imagination transforms the spaces that they work in into places that demonstrate the existence of the unpresentable.
The technological age is allowing for more multisensory engagement. My interest is in elaborating on those technological advancements that can fuse perception of senses and add to the phenomenological experience of my artistic intention of presenting the presence of the unpresentable.
- Maja Petrić is an artist, a PhD candidate and a predoctoral associate at University of Washington’s Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media (DXARTS). She holds a Masters degree in new media art from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and a Masters degree in journalism from University of Zagreb, Croatian Studies. Maja grew up in Croatia during the violent fragmentation of Yugoslavia. It is then that she became preoccupied with using art to transform the traumatized sense of her surroundings. Her work is about changing the perception of space in function of art. Therefore, the subjects of her work are perception, space, and art. To change perception, she studies sensation, experience, and phenomenology. To create spatial situations, she practices designing spaces, fabricating structures, manipulating materials, and integrating lighting and audiovisual systems. The core of her artistic research is the sublime. Her light art installations have recently been awarded the Richard Kelly Award, the Thunen Lighting Award, and the Doctoral Fellowship from Croatian Science Foundation. majapetric.com
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