Petra Mrša – Victory, taste, smell


Victory, taste, smell

The playing of social games extends over all the periods of history. A game, since time out of mind, has been a device of social cohesion and is present in all cultures; it belongs among the oldest forms of social interaction. With the development of science, technology too advanced, with a huge effect on society. An almost unbelievable technical advance took place with the appearance of the Internet, and had its effect in the games sector. This medium was particularly favourable for the development of video games and in particular multiplayer games when several gamers are going to be involved at the same time in the same video game. The Internet enables them to come together in a game without being physically present in the same real space. Video games have become a widespread social and cultural phenomenon, one that has swept over the globe. The Statista platform puts forward research from which the proliferation of gamers can be seen, and we can find out that the number of video gamers worldwide in 2022 was 3.03 billion, and that there had been a huge surge in this number right at the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020. It was only in the last year that the number steadied slightly and is now a little smaller. But if research is to be trusted, by 2027 in planetary terms gaming is not going to wane but will continue its campaign of conquest and there will be the incredible number of 3.8 billion gamers worldwide. ¹

Health 90, video still


These are truly amazing data and, I believe, can hardly be looked on with equanimity, the more so if we know that playing – gaming – has its good and bad effects on those taking part. According to numerous researches, it has an effect on real life, particularly on the development and psycho-physical formation of the younger population, which accounts for the majority of players in global terms. On the negative side there are violence, dysfunctional behaviour on the part of players, subconscious evasion of real life problems, avoiding/neglecting everyday obligations and the danger of dependence resulting from excessive playing. Reception of the good side of playing video games largely comes down to their entertainment value (leisure time instrument), and to the medium, from which something new can be learned, affecting creativity, helping the logic of rapid inference and the advancement of cognitive processes.

Health 90, video still


Whether or not we are more inclined to the proposition that gaming is toxic or, more optimistic, think that more good can be found in it than harm, we have to admit that this planetary-wide phenomenon has become intertwined in all social strata, irrespective of age, education and purchasing power. Gaming has become a force that in plain sight, from some parallel virtual world, is intersecting with our real and material world, changing it, creating a totally new paradigm to be seen in numerous social realities, from global economy (the video game market was worth 196.8 billion dollars in 2020) to the creation of new subcultures and the formation of identities within them. It is clear that the academic community can hardly remain immune to all these processes and changes, and the videogame phenomenon is the subject of interest of psychologists and philosophers, sociologists and researchers from other disciplines, but this world sensation has also captured the attention of artists. A phenomenon that is literally developing before our eyes and, as we can see, from simple has grown into very complex worlds, has also woven its narrative in art. Looking at it from this angle, it is interesting to see how artists feel and think about it in their works.


Artist Petra Mrša in her art practice deals with videogames, or rather the phenomenon of video-gaming, and in a number of works in which she delves into videogames spurs thinking about the material and physical consequences of interactive digital experience of playing. Her degree background is in not only photography but also sociology and psychology, which, of a surety, has had a hand in her looking at the phenomenon deeper and more intensively through the discourses of sociology and psychology. Mrša in her works thinks about the multilayeredness of videogames and other digital contents in wide use. On the one hand she is interested in, for example, what happens with the mind, what happens with the body, the emotions of players while they are using the content, but at the same time raises awareness about the Internet, going into the possibility of self-controlling one’s immersion in digital content. She has been into this topic for quite some time. Her artist research (kindly shared with me) is wide-ranging and extensive, with numerous quotes from many sources. Some of these sources, as she says, are catalogues of exhibitions, scientific research works, popular media and some of them are interviews that she has personally conducted. One of them is important for consideration and understanding of the work Games and Stitches – Chatbot, referring to the self-aware use of digital content. She has interviewed employees in and clients of the Day Centre for Internet and Videogame Dependency. In the twenty questions she put to the employees she attempted to find out what psychic and physical characteristics are shown by clients who are easier or more difficult to treat; the surroundings in which they live and move; whether dependency is related to a given social and economic group; is there a behaviour pattern related to addicts; how to reduce the need for adrenaline and dopamine; how clients can be motivated to reduce their dependency and so on. She has also carried out interviews with former addicts and attempted to find out why they continue to use Internet content in spite of their bodies having given clear signals that enough is enough; whether they think that they have missed out on something in the real world because of the long-time slouching in front of a monitor; what motivated them to resist Internet use even in spite of powerful urges; what happened with their body at the moment when after OD-ing on Internet use they have ceased using the medium. Through the interaction with collaborators in this research process achieved through question and answer Petra Mrša has collected content used for the development of the interactive platform chatbot. In our Virtual Gallery, chatbot is put on as an independent work, but chatbot also appears every time any work on her website is opened. It pops up in the right hand corner with: Hi! I’m chatbot and my aim is to help you shut down your computer when you find it difficult to do so and set yourself free! After the chat I’ll say goodbye and that will be the sign to shut down. OK? Chatbot is embodied in the form of a digital non-binary entity that puts to the user or participant in front of the monitor various questions and gives instructions to. The purpose of the questions and instructions is to provoke reactions in the user that will generate awareness in the context of the relations of emotional and physical experience, spatial and corporeal, comforts and discomforts of the digital environment, interior and exterior, as well as awareness of how crucial is the space in which the participant is located at the moment of interaction with the chatbot and the essentialness of the environment in the user’s wider surroundings. To wean the user away from digital content, to shorten the time they spend in front of the time, chatbot gives them entertaining tasks that compel them, as it were, to abandon digital content for a short time at least (“turn your chair round in a new way and sit on it again”), but also gives them tasks to get them physically moving (“Walk three times around your building and look all the people you meet in the eye. Say hi to one person, even if you don’t know them. Hi hi”), with which the participant is fully liberated from immersion in digital content for, because of the task, they have to leave it. The purpose of chatbot is to provide alternative contents for those who need and want help from outside to break away from their digital device.


Health 90, video still


In the twenty-minute-long documentary film Health 90, Petra Mrša explores in depth the contents of the digital space, probing it at several levels. As well as the psychological and sociological aspects of playing videogames, an important educational level is to be read. The core of the work consists of playing a game and the interaction of players that occurs during play as well as after gaming. The artist invited six young gamers (three boys, three girls) who share a common passion for gaming together. Previously they never met, and for the first time meet virtually in the sandbox of the game Garry’s Mod, and then life in the real world, or real space. While the virtual place of encounter in the game is a known space in which they feel OK, the place of encounter in reality must have been entirely unexpected to them, but not necessarily unpleasant, for the place was filled with content that in the associative sense they meet in their virtual world. The artist then decided, on the basis of Garry’s Mod, which gives the players opportunities for the virtual building of bridges, buildings, furniture… that the encounter space should be in the Materials Laboratory of the Civil Engineering Faculty where, I suppose, they had never been previously. The laboratory is used not only for research and commercial purposes, but also for student education; in it there are various engineering materials, tools, simulators, instruments and other devices. Having chosen this laboratory for the encounter of her young subjects, the artist metaphorically teleported them from the virtual to a similar but real world. Because of this displacement, the action of Health 90 takes place here and in the beyond, now and then. The essence of the work lies in the monitoring of the interaction of players during and after play and the relations they develop in this period, and, in consequence, everything that springs from it. The players are not abandoned to arbitrary relations/dialogue, for the artist determined the questions for discussion in advance, to find out how important playing videogames was in their everyday lives, and why. From the young protagonists of the documentary film we find out that they perceive the digital as a protective place, a kind of safe space. In this virtual safe space nothing can happen to them that they don’t want, for, unlike physical space, they can control the virtual space, and accordingly think it secure. This is confirmed by the remark of one of the girls that you can change your gender identity and be a boy teenager, in order to avoid any possible embarrassments and prejudices on the part of the other players, without any of the other multiplayers finding out. The protagonists list the many restrictions that exist in the real world, none of which are there in the digital world. It gives the players the chances that in the real world they could never have. One of the protagonists, along these lines, says that it is much easier on line to play soccer or basketball because you just log in and play by yourself, or gather a team, while playing the same sports physically is much more complicated and harder, depending as it does on numerous factors, like weather, the moods of the players and their physical abilities. They also say that the digital environment enables them greater socialisation and to have intimate relationships, one of the players saying that via play he is in contact every day with a girl friend from whom he is separated in real life terms; a girl participant says that she met her current boyfriend playing games. Playing, we find out too, gives them self-confidence and a feeling of respect for themselves, for the feeling of accomplishment is much easier to come by in a videogame than it is in real life.

Chatbot Games and stiches


This kind of imaginary world is attractive to the young. Many of them feel better in it, for as we see, it gives a feeling of security, happiness, power, usefulness, rightfulness, gives them many possibilities of choice and freedom, for they can be what they want and do what in the real world because of various personal or social restrictions they would never be able to. But also in the digital world they acquire certain skills, knowledge, cognitive abilities that can be of use in the real world, so that the videogame is both a means of entertainment and a kind of emotional fall-back space as well as a resource for the acquisition of new knowledge and skills applicable in reality, if the choice is critically well-informed.


                                                                                                            Jasminka Poklečki Stošić



Health 90

documentary film, 20 min, HD, color and sound

After books, comics, music and movies, video games have joined the mass media formats that influence the youth’s upbringing. In Health 90, six gamers reveal what needs and desires they satisfy through video games. Describing the world they would like to live in, the protagonists reveal the influence of video games on shaping their ideas and desires in the physical world.

protagonists /
Lorena Brnica
Patrik Butorac
Jakob Vučić-Šenperger
director / Petra Mrša
screenplay / Petra Mrša
cinematography / Tomislav Sutlar
editing / Denis Golenja
sound design / Luka Gamulin
sound recorder / Ana Jurčić
colorist / Magdalena Ptiček
opening credits designer / Sara Pavleković Preis
producers / Petra Mrša
production assistant / Elena Apostolovski

The film was realized with the help of funds from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the Department for Culture of the City of Rijeka and the Croatian Audiovisual Center (HAVC).

Health 90, video still


Health 90, video still


Health 90, video still


Health 90, video still


Health 90, Museum of Fine Arts Osijek 2022

Chatbot Games and stiches


The content of an interactive platform was created based on interviews with patients and employees of the hospital for the treatment of Internet and video games addiction. Their experiences of losing and regaining control of their behavior form a chatbot that connects the digital experience with physical and emotional reactions. Unexpected questions and instructions aim to raise awareness of the relationship between one’s own body and the environment, moments of interruption, and the discomfort caused by immersion in digital content. Based on the answer, the chatbot generates one of 3 conversation topics offered: people, fun or goal. Each conversation encompasses rising awareness of body parts, entertaining tasks, and the suggestion for an activity in the physical environment that implies leaving the digital device.














The video game research process behind these works,
is available during the duration of the exhibition at the following links:

Odabrani citati iz raznih izvora (ENG)



Games and politics katalog (ENG)



Grupirani sadržaj intervjua provedenih za rad “Filthy casul”



Dijelomični transkripti intervjua za rad “Filthy casul”



More links




Petra Mrša is an artists and educator based between Rijeka and Berlin. Her practice is centered on researching the ways in which social norms shape the lives of individuals. Through evoking situations and dealing with representation, she questions the mechanisms of socialization in the physical and virtual environments. She studied Photography (Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb), Sociology (Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, University of Zagreb), and Psychology (Faculty of Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb). She participated in the postgraduate international art program WHW Akademija (run by curatorial collective What, How & for Whom/WHW) in Zagreb and was nominated for the Radoslav Putar award 2020. She took part in numerous residencies among which are MuseumsQuartier Wien; Cité internationale des arts, Paris; CreArt Bluecoat – Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre. Her work was exhibited at the OSTRALE Biennale (Germany), Museum Kunst+Wissen (Switzerland), FOTODOK (Netherland), Galerie L’inlassable (France) among many others. Her artworks are in several collections.


2023. Pobjeda, okus, miris, Umjetnički paviljon u Zagrebu, Virtualna galerija, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2022. Digital milk, Center sodobnih umetnosti Celje, Celje, Slovenija
2022. Digital milk, Muzej likovnih umjetnosti, Osijek, Hrvatska
2021. Igre i šavovi, Galerija GMK, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2019. Are you sure you want to leave the game? Galerija Prozori, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2019. Killing, arranging, walking, Galerija Flora, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska
2019. Killing, arranging, walking, Galerija Spot, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2017. Changing conditions, changing minds, Galerija PM, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2017. Vježbanje obitelji, Gradska galerija Labin, Labin, Hrvatska
2015. Vježbanje obitelji, Art Workshop Lazareti, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska
2015. Vježbanje obitelji, MKC Split, Split, Hrvatska
2015. Vježbanje obitelji, Mali salon, Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2015. Što vidiš kad zažmiriš?, Foto galerija Lang, Samobor, Hrvatska
2014. Vježbanje obitelji, Galerija Kranjčar, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2014. Balkans brides project, Petra Mrša, OKO i Martina Miholić, Hoxton Gallery, London, Velika Britanija
2013. Kontrolirano izmještavanje – fotografski eksperimenti, Galerija Kortil, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2013. New school, Savignano Immagini festival, Savignano sul Rubicone, Italija
2012. Nova škola, Galerija VN, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2012. Vizualni identiteti, Centralna postaja, Maribor, Slovenija
2012. (Ne)zamijenjivo, Galerija Waldinger, Osijek, Hrvatska
2012. (Ne)zamijenjivo, Galerija KIC, Zagreb, Hrvatska



2022. Are you sure you want to leave?, art quarter budapest, Budimpešta, Mađarska
2022. Riječi za gledanje, Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti Rijeka, Hrvatska
2021. The OSTRALE Biennale, Drezden, Njemačka
2021. Iza sedam gora i sedam mora – tihe noći uz mobitel, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, Hrvatska
2021. Symptoms Of The Future, Out of sight, Antwerpen, Belgija
2021. Symptoms Of The Future, Stereovizija, Beograd, Srbija
2020. 35. salon mladih, Dom HDLU, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2020. Ganz nove perforacije – Noć performansa, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2020. Finalisti Radoslav Putar award, Salon Galić, Split, Hrvatska
2020. 11. Arterija – Međunarodni festival vizualnih umjetnosti, Spasimo ugrožene vrste, Muzej–Museo Lapidarium, Novigrad, Hrvatska
2020. La ville au second regard, Gallery Window, Pariz, Francuska
2019. Što s tijelom? Galerija VN, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2019. United in Diversity Rijeka HR/Århus DK, DeltaLab, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2019. Women, (Be)coming, UGM Studio, Maribor, Slovenija
2019. Open Nova, Galerija nova, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2019. AIR, Krinzinger Projekte, Beč, Austrija
2019. Midterm, Galerija nova, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2018. Traces of Water, Galerija Prsten, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2018. Museum Kunst+Wissen, Diessenhofen, Švicarska
2017. Last one out turn off the lights, Galerie L’inlassable, Pariz, Francuska
2017. Fine del nuovo: Compra, vendi, compra, vendi…,Villa Di Toppo Florio, Udine, Italija
2016. Meer teilen: share more, Shedhalle in Eisenwerk, Frauenfeld, Švicarska
2016. VIG Special Invitation, Ringturm, Beč, Austrija
2016. There is something about my family, FOTODOK, Utrecht, Nizozemska
2016. Different Worlds:Young Contemporary Photography, Foton – Centar za suvremenu fotografiju, Ljubljana, Slovenija



2022. Digital milk, Muzej likovnih umjetnosti, Osijek, Hrvatska
2021. Symptoms Of The Future, Onomatopee Z0033, Eindhoven, Nizozemska
2019. DIS / Inheritance New Croatian Photography, Ikon Arts Foundation, New York, SAD
2015. Rehearsing family, Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2013. New school, Pazzini editore, Villa Verucchio, Italija



2020. Nagrada Radoslav Putar, finalistkinja, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2020. Come prepared to receive a present that you cannot take home, semi-public experimental gathering, MuseumsQuartier, Beč, Austrija
2020. Artist in Residence at Q21/MuseumsQuartier, Beč, Austrija
2020. Filthy casual, online performance, HDLU, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2020. CreArt Rezidencija Ostanidoma, HDLU, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2020. Suradnica umjetnika Davida Maljkovića na multidisciplinarnom međunarodnom projektu With the Collection, Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2018./2019. Poslijediplomski međunarodni umjetnički program WHW Akademija, uz stipendiju, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2018. Umjetnička rezidencija Factoria Cultural Aviles, Wom@arts project, Španjolska
2018. Umjetnička rezidencija Kuberton, Muzej Lapidarium i Galerie Krinzinger, Hrvatska, Austrija
2018. Umjetnička rezidencija CreArt AiR, Bluecoat – Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, Velika Britanija
2017. Umjetnička rezidencija Cité Internationale des Arts, Pariz, Francuska
2017. Umjetnička rezidencija Spaces between land and water, organizacija Silvie Marie Grossmann (Künstlerhaus, Beč) i HDLU Zagreb, Lošinj, Hrvatska
2017. Inicijatorica i organizatorica međunarodne site-specific radionice s javnom prezentacijom “Otok je naša galerija”, Silba, Hrvatska
2016. Umjetnička rezidencija za projekt Buen vivir, kustos Harm Lux, Frauenfeld, Švicarska
2014. – 2017. Autorica i voditeljica umjetničkih radionica, razgovora i događanja održanih u: Hoxton galeriji, London; International school of Paris; Organ vida 2017- Open show Zagreb; Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti, Rijeka; Foto klub, Rijeka; Foto galerija Lang, Samobor; Arhiv Tošo Dabac, Zagreb; Akademija primijenjene umjetnosti, Rijeka; Akademija dramske umjetnosti, Zagreb
2014. Asistentica iz fotografije na Akademiji primijenjene umjetnosti, Rijeka, Hrvatska
2014. – 2016. Edukatorica umjetničke fotografije u Privatnoj umjetničkoj gimnaziji, Zagreb, Hrvatska
2015. Dobitnica VIG posebne pozivnice, Essl Art Award, Hrvatska
2014. Pobjednica Ex aequo, 24. slavonski biennale, Osijek, Hrvatska
2014. Umjetnička rezidencija Punta arta – Otočka karta 2, kustosica Marina Viculin, Zlarin, Hrvatska
2013. Umjetnička rezidencija IS_land II, kustosi Saša Božić i Petra Hraščanec, Hrvatska
2013. Asistentica u galeriji Hoxton, London, Velika Britanija
2012. Dobitnica nagrade za najbolji portfelj na Savignano Immagini Festival, Savignano sul Rubicone, Italija
2012. Dobitnica Posebne nagrade za mlade autore na Rovinj Photodays, Rovinj, Hrvatska
2011. Dobitnica Posebne nagrade za mlade autore na Rovinj Photodays, Rovinj, Hrvatska
2005./2006. Dobitnica Rektorove nagrade, Sveučilište u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska

To find out more about the artist see: