Maarten Keus (1994) is a mixed-media artist that is deeply fascinated by machines. With a research background within extreme and mundane rituals. He explores and researches human consciousness, emotions, and social behavior through technology-based installations and performance art. Fear, danger, and the catharsis found within can be seen as one of the main materials within the more recent installation / interactive works.
Maarten has a background in industrial product design, extreme sports (high-lining, climbing, acrobatics), nightlife management, sound- and light design, teaching, and electronics. He interned at Philip Vermeulen, Lawrence Malstaf, and graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts The Hague with Interactive Media Design in 2020 and started teaching in 2021.
In 2020, I (Maarten Keus,1994, living and working in Den Haag) graduated with a BA in Interactive Media Design from the Royal Academy of Art.
As the basis of my practice I have always considered my attraction to danger, through which, as in a sacred event, I step in with intent in order to strip away the lingering burden of fear, and therefore trauma. Incorporating various multimedia elements, my immersive installations function purely as vessels that set sail towards the sublime; the incomprehensible feeling of fear derived from pending physical or moral threat. Belonging to a certain community, or living in society, means that we have been burdened with the trauma of our ancestors, on an evolutionary, national, and personal level. It is a cyclical phenomenon that consecrates fear within our individual and collective subconscious. My practice, therefore, could be seen as one ever-changing rite, with one constant: catharsis, which aims at challenging that cycle. A rite that is experienced communally, depending on the willingness of each participant to let themselves be challenged, bodily and psychologically, through the means of the immersive spectacle.
I aim for submergence.
I aim for conflict.
I aim for catharsis.
Starting from myself, by ritualistically re-staging and exploring the different gradations of danger throughout my life, and consequently, within my practice, I start with placing myself at the core of vulnerability and the inescapable manifestation of fear. Such extreme circumstances have the ability to fuel the mental faculties that deal with fear and consequently, lead to the slow dissipation of the power that subconsciously embedded fright has over our impulses. Similarly, the audio-visceral experience of my work allows for the submergence of one’s subconscious into a landscape of sensibilities, thereof enhancing the viewer’s abilities to connect with their conflicting emotions. The delightful horrors of the multisensory installations where light, sound, and texture intertwine, lure in the audience, only to challenge them to stay, take agency for their own experience, and eventually face the sublimity of their emotional landscape.
Each work is characterized by its own individual poetic realm and narrative, which serve me as a basis from which I try to explore the multifaceted scope of meaning-making in this very sensitive attraction to fear and danger. Creating with intent as a maker and having intent before entering the experience as an observer, has proven to be a crucial element that allows for one’s submergence, deep, into the specific topic and its thereby accompanied emotional landscape. Working through such a conceptual framework paves the way for the audience to receive and contextualize the symbolism that the work inhibits, and consequently lend them the opportunity to find their own cathartic moment that pertains to their conscious or unconscious past, present or future.