Maria Garcia Guerrero MFA Applied Craft + Design Practicum 2017

Awareness: Escaping from a Dystopian State of Mind

The mind has limits when it comes to performing under stress. When suffering from an anxiety disorder, one can find it very hard to be present and can easily get distracted by things happening in the surroundings and inside the mind.

The increase of absent-mindedness due to massive loads of stress inspired me to make this project. Having as my objective that the audience experience awareness with my work, I created three interactive installations using artificial light and motion as tools. I emphasize the act of seeing, bringing it into consciousness, to create temporal spaces to experience awareness as an escape from a dystopian state of mind.
In each installation, I utilize light and motion in a different manner: always as tools for engagement, but also to address more philosophical aspects of life. Curious about the tension between what we consider real and what not, I ask with my work: How much control do we have over what we call reality? Since everyone’s reality is defined by their perception, with this body of work I investigate the possibility of being in control of what we see and experience as our reality by playing with the viewer’s perception.
I also explore different types of interactivity with the installations, to offer options of engagement to the spectator, as we do not respond the same way to the same stimuli. In the first installation, I give the audience control of what they see, an actual box with switches and dimmers to control the lights. The interactivity is conscious and the user is in charge. In the second installation I utilized movement and light as the tools of interaction, creating a visual engagement with the viewer, since our visual system is drawn to and responds to changes in luminance and movement. In the third installation the artwork responds to the presence of the spectators and guides them through the experience.

As perception and awareness are the two major aspects of my work. I was mostly influenced and inspired by artists from Op Art, Luminism and Kinetism.

Using new means and media to communicate what we want in art can be satisfying and at the same time frustrating. Not knowing much about programming and interactivity put limits on my creative flow, but it also encouraged me to find an expert in the field for collaboration. Because of this, I was able to meticulously orchestrate the interactivity as another tool to maintain the engagement of the viewer.

Through this project I ask: If we all had the possibility of being in control of our own reality, would we be in a better world?

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MFA in Applied Craft + Design Thesis Works