A light installation by Maja Petrić shows AI can foster human connection

Seattle – The immersive, experiential installations of Seattle-based Croatian artist Maja Petrić are something suspended in a dream. Her medium of choice is light, an element she uses because, ‘as human beings, we are evolutionarily programmed to respond to it.’ We Are All Made of Light, one of her most recent works, shows those evolutionary responses in action, illustrating in starry light-form the human side of technology – specifically, our biological connection with other homo sapiens.

Petrić worked with computer scientist Mihai Jalobeanu to develop an AI system that could recognize its audience, detect their bodies, record their silhouettes and then project that back at them via suspended threads of glittering lights. Each projected silhouette’s look and feel depends on the rest of the content and behaviours in the space at any given moment; every single one is set to reappear later on, to link with future visitors in real-time. Using this software, Petrić explained, ‘gave [her] a set of tools for shaping the experience of interconnectedness that would not be possible otherwise.’

For nearly 20 years, the artist’s work has focused on the creation of visceral transformative human experiences through light and art; she uses AI, computer vision and spatialized sound – in this installation, engineered by Marcin Paczkowski – to ‘expand the multi-sensory apparatus through which art can be experienced.’ Thus, her portfolio shows an evolving exploration of how best to optimize an individual’s cognitive and emotional response to space.

‘My desire is that [We Are All Made of Light] leads to consideration about how aware we are of the mark we leave behind, and the trails left by our fellow humans,’ said Petric. ‘Can we see how we all alike shape our environments and the spatial memory of our environment? What would being immersed in this mesh of trails lend us in the understanding of each other and our collective?’


We Are All Made of Light was first exhibited at Seattle's MadArt Studio. Its next showings will be at São Paulo's Santander Cultural centre and Wonderspaces Arizona.

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