Of her newest installation, We Are All Made of Light, at MadArt Studio, Seattle-based artist Maja Petric tells me, “The immersive experience emulates a constellation in which every person becomes one among the stars. The natural beauty of the universe is evoked to reveal connections between us and the rest of the world that often stay hidden in the plain sight.” And to think my main motivation for going was just to get really high and look at glittering lights in a dark space.
Though this art exhibit is excellent to experience while baked, it’s also a lot more than that. While it’s easy to feel increasingly disconnected from politics, from the country, from our neighbors, from even ourselves, Petric is looking at the ways in which humans can plug back into our OG bio-cosmic fabric. Using a heady combination of interactive light, spatial sound, and artificial intelligence developed by Mihai Jalobeanu, Petric’s installation creates audiovisual trails of each visitor as they move through the space. As the installation goes on, previous visitors’ trails will mix together as part of the constellation of light that new visitors will encounter, connecting everyone with the past, present and future. Trippy shit.
I thought all the positive vibes emanating from Petric’s installation were the perfect conduit to getting familiar with weed again. After moving back in with my parents a couple of months ago, I decided to take a short cannabis break that snowballed into three and a half months of not smoking. It was a part of me I missed. When I smoked I felt more in my own body, able to listen to different parts of myself, and connected better with other things, even if it was just the really comfy couch I was sitting on. I was a bit nervous to smoke, feeling like I was going to see an old flame again—what if they noticed I’d gained weight? Started wearing blush? Reincorporated “hella” into my vocabulary again, when I swore I’d stop? After the kind budtender at Herban Legends set me up with some nice indica, I forgot all my hesitation and sucked on my vape pen on my walk over to MadArt Studio.
I entered the gallery during the soft arch upward of my little high. The sound, developed by James Wenlock, was one of the first things to hit me. It sounded like I was inside Carl Sagan’s brain, a cosmic symphony. Surrounded by complete darkness, the installation itself is composed of hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny lit-up drape-like ropes that reminded me of those beaded curtains from the 70s. My immediate thought first looking at them was “rain” for the way light seemed to drip off of them. The ropes were hung in a giant, cube-like arrangement that took up almost the whole room. As I walked through the pathway in the middle of the cube, the light projections on either side completely immersed me in light. I closed my eyes even though that completely negated the effect. Words like “connection,” “centeredness,” “love,” washed over me. I felt warm.
The gallery slowly filled with more and more people, upending the meditative throb of the installation. I calmly collected myself and slinked out of the space. “As an artist, my goal is to elicit transformative sensory, cognitive and visceral experiences,” Petric told me over email. “My approach is based on the study of the primordial human connection to nature, Biophilia… human beings have an innate instinct to connect emotionally with nature. As such, I use [the immersive experience] as a switch that can awaken people’s awareness and engagement.”
Walking through South Lake Union, looking at the last of the day’s light reflecting off all those glass buildings, something in me definitely felt switched on. I’m not sure if I felt connected with all beings, past and present, but I did feel like my white-knuckled grip on all my anxieties and worries had loosened—I was riding the wave of the hum the universe makes.