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Špela Petrič is a Slovenian new media artist and former scientific researcher currently based between Ljubljana, SI, and Amsterdam, NL. She received a PhD in Biomedicine at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and an Advanced Master in Arts from LUCA, Brussels, Belgium. Her practice is a multi-species endeavor, a composite of natural sciences, wet media and performance. She envisions artistic experiments that enact strange relationalities to reveal the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of our (bio)technological societies and challenge the scope of the adjacent possible. Much of her recent work has focused on plant life. Her work has been shown at many festivals, exhibitions and educational events around the world (Centre Pompidou (Paris, FR), Abandon Normal Devices (Grisedale Forrest, UK), Gamerz (Aix en Provence, FR), Touch Me Festival (Zagreb, CRO), Playaround (Taipei, TW), Electronica (Linz, AT)). For her work she also received several awards including the White Aphroid for outstanding artistic achievement, the Bioart and Design Award and an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica.
CONFRONTING VEGETAL OTHERNESS : SKOTOPOIESIS
Video installation documenting the performance, 22h, 2015
Skotopoiesis (meaning shaped by darkness) is the first performance from the series attempting plant-human intercognition. In this durational piece the artist and the germinating cress face each, illuminated by a light projection. The biosemiotic process occurs through the obstruction of the light – the artist throws a shadow onto the cress for 12 hours a day, which results in the etiolation (blanching, whitening) of the plants. The effect is mediated by phytochromes, one of the plants’ non-photosynthetic light sensors. The diminished light intensity stimulates the production of auxin, a plant hormone that acidifies the cell wall, facilitating its elongation. The stems of the cress become long and pale; the leaves are sparser, all in an effort by the plant to grow from the shadow.
As the cress elongates, the vegetalized artist shrinks – standing still for a prolonged amount of time decreases the artists body height due to fluid loss from the intervertebral disks. Thus the evidence of intercognition is observed through the physical changes of the plant and the human partner.