Maja Petric is a new media artist. She uses cutting edge technologies to create art installations that evoke the sublimity of nature. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and a Master from New York University on the topic of transforming the poetic experience of space through the experimental use of technology. Training at these pioneering institutions gave her an opportunity to explore various artistic methods to manipulate people’s senses through which they experience space cognitively and emotionally.

During her studies, Maja discovered that lighting is one of the most potent tools to shape people’s experience. Since the year 2000, she has been researching, practicing, and teaching complementary potential of light and art to create the transformative human experience. On this subject, she had developed a theoretical body of knowledge that is embodied in her art practice that she thought at the University of Washington, Complutense University of Madrid, Technical University of Madrid, and European Institute of Design. In 2016 she has designed and directed the graduate program Light As A Creative Tool at European Institute of Design. Her research on the creative use of light is being prepared for publishing in a book - History of Light in Art. The evolution of her practice led her to the current research on artificial intelligence (AI)- driven lighting for creating multi-sensory poetic experiences.

Most recently, her artwork has been exhibited at Winston Wächter Fine Art Gallery, MadArt Gallery, Google Permanent Art Collection, Microsoft Research Gallery, Henry Art Gallery, Amazon Headquarters Gallery in the USA; Matadero, and Medialab Prado in Madrid. Some of the awards she received include Microsoft Research Residency Award, Richard Kelly Light Art Award, two Thunen Lighting Awards, and Doctoral Fellowship from Croatian Science Foundation. Her artwork has been nominated for Arts Innovator Award, FastCo. Innovation by Design Awards, International Light Art Award by the Centre for International Light Art Unna. She is a 2017-2019 Artist in Residence of Redmond, WA, USA.


I became interested in art while growing up in Croatia during the war. I was nine years old when the war broke out in my country. In the following five years, many places in Croatia were devastated. Great buildings were ruined, in some places entire villages were razed to the ground. With the fallen architecture people also fell, and the entire region was overpowered by fear and despair. Growing up in such an environment made me dream of other places. In my dreams, I repaired broken things and saw fragmented landscapes whole again. My imagination transported me from the disturbing realities to nature-inspired places of awe and wonder. From that point on, I looked for ways to transform the poetic experience of shattered spaces.

In 2006 I created an interactive installation, “outSIDEin,” for the New York City Subway’s utterly desolate pedestrian tunnel at 191st Street station of the number 1 train, also known as the tunnel of doom. I created a false ceiling that appeared to be cracked, and a combination of artificial light and fog simulated a striking natural effect of light emanating from the sky. Lights were programmed to imitate the color and intensity of the daylight outside of the tunnel. When the weather outside was sunny, the light projected inside through the cracks was bright and yellow. When the weather outside was foggy, the light shining over the passers-by was soft and blue. In so, this intervention transformed pedestrians’ experiences of the tunnel of doom into a place of the unexpected contemplation.

The political crisis we are in reminds me of the distorted reality and gloomy realities of my childhood. Again, I turn to art to transcend politics and engage people’s primordial sensations, to remind them of their connection to nature and to elicit a profound response that helps them catch a glimpse, however fleeting, of the essence of life.

To do so, I rely on light as an artistic tool to elicit transformative visceral experiences. My approach is based on the study of the innate human connection to nature. According to the biophilia hypothesis that was introduced by American biologist Edward O. Wilson, human beings have an innate instinct to connect emotionally with nature, particularly the aspects of nature that recall what evolutionary psychologists have termed the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, the natural conditions that the human species evolved to inhabit. As such, living organisms hold a biological need for connection with nature including natural landscapes, natural light and natural change of light. I aim to engage that primordial need for the connection to nature and evoke profound sensations that can transcend the everyday struggles and awaken the feelings of aliveness.

My work with manipulating the perception of light, time and space is driven by the use of progressive technologies such as machine learning and AI. Appropriating these technologies allows me to expand the potential for immersive experience, it allows me to impact emotions, and create a sense of connection on a new level that would not be possible otherwise.