Ali-Jon “AJ” Kret

Up, Up, and Away

Enter the curtains, and immediately become immersed in the projection of Up, Up, and Away, an auditory, thermoreceptive, and visual hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia, Turkey.

The whirling dervishes of Turkey spin in circles for minutes on end, dissociating into a trance state, and transcending from reality, meditating alongside the spiritual Sufi music. Mevlânâ (Rumi), a 13th-century Persian poet, originally created the practice for the weekly remembrance of God. As it later formed, it became the ritual of releasing the ego and being spiritually reborn to the truth.

Juxtaposed to the dervishes, the motion of the hot air balloon reflects the release of control through the mere incapacity to steer. The experience of riding in the balloon becomes a three-hour meditation of its own, with the only option of ascending and descending, dawn to daylight. This meditation is condensed to seven minutes; crawling through the air of Cappadocia, as the incorporeal Sufi music guides you along.

“[Sufism] is the dimension of Islamic mysticism that transports the seeker on the path of spiritual attainment into higher states of consciousness that promise spiritual intoxication (wajd) and a unique and intimate union, even annihilation (fanāʾ), in the supreme being. This emotional expression of faith is intensified and externalized in elaborate forms of meditation…” 

—Irene Markoff

ARTIST STATEMENT: Ali-Jon “AJ” Kret is a half-Turkish, half-Polish-American videographer, photographer, and creative media artist from Newton, Massachusetts.  Primarily making videos in an attempt to remember his travels, creating became the escape to his memory. AJ started with photography in middle school and then taught himself how to edit videos through YouTube in high school. Taking a film studies course senior year sparked an interest that led him to Drexel University as a film major in 2018. After a six-month working break in 2019, he transferred to Champlain College in 2020 to pursue a bachelor of fine arts in creative media. Because AJ spent all of his time in the mixed-media art room in high school, he explored countless materials to work with, so it became very important for him to return to his roots. Throughout his education, he has encountered a variety of media work, interactive design, and visual art.

During this time, he has been able to display his work in both L.A. and Vermont

PROFESSIONAL DIRECTION/CAREER ASPIRATION: Using aerial cinematography, videography, and photography, AJ strives to replicate his experiences within his films.  As a hands-on learner, he thrives behind the camera and is determined to learn the ins and outs of each tool he uses. His dream is to be a chase camera operator for professional action sports, particularly with his drones.


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