Nikola Tesla, Mind from the Future: Interview with Helena Bulaja Madunic

Total Croatia News


March 26, 2018 – The highly successful exhibition, Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future, closes its doors on April 2, before embarking on its world tour. TCN caught up with exhibition author Helena Bulaja Madunic. 


1. Tell us about the background of the exhibition. How long ago did you come up with the concept, and how much did it change from original idea to the present exhibition?

Back in 2005, literally on New Year’s Eve, I flew to New York and started the first research for my cross-media storytelling documentary project “Mechanical Figures Inspired by Tesla” … so it has been now a 13-year journey, and we have been all around the world filming and presenting our work in many places from New York to Tokyo and New Zealand … but the last 3 years have been spent fully devoted to recreating that work for and within this exhibition with a whole new team organized by REAL GRUPA and me. It was a challenge to see my vision coming true … I have to find the right balance and models of how to transform film, animation, illustration and other multimedia materials I collected over the years into this exhibition, that is actually one huge walk-through movie experience, an immersive interactive space installation that I like to call Film Fresco. It is very interesting when you got the chance to realize your vision, at that moment you do understand that you are a visionary, and all before that moment you can’t really be sure about that, but you know it is going to lead to something big. So the change from the original idea I had 13 years ago didn’t change at all, but every work, special work of artist or scientist is not a “normal” work, it is a lifetime journey. So objectively speaking the idea and vision what this has to be didn’t change at all, but this 3 years of work on the exhibition put one culmination to changes that happened to me, my life and all involved in many ways, through all these years, as well as for new collaborators who came into the process for the exhibition.


2. With so much material covering so many countries, how hard was it to come up with the final selection of material?

At the moment when you set the storyline … all this “library” collected and created over the years served as a sandbox of base material, that you look through different eyes with every new framework. It is like a garden, you always plant almost the same plants, but the garden never looks really the same … So it was the same with this exhibition. I am not like other artists that are more egocentric, they have their agenda and they want to push it in front of the audience, never really allowing any real questioning around My Work. I am quite the opposite, I like to serve other people’s needs, I like to make other people’s wishes come true. I just like to work within the commissioned tasks, as that is giving me the challenge to “answer” with my own language and to make many people happy at the end. So it was with this exhibition, the producer wasn’t too demanding, but one thing was a trigger. They wanted me to incorporate my work within a biographical timeline of Tesla, so if I did that then everything else is appreciated … That was just perfect, as for me that became a lost space blended and blurred in all that we had done so far. So at the moment when I got back to the Tesla biographical timeline, I realized how many things we had already done perfectly to fit all into the exhibition experience, while not losing any source metaphor or meaning we already established within the Mechanical Figures main theme – to collect thoughts and knowledge and ideas inspired by Tesla, that at one point started to be one investigation of the presence of “man as a machine”, or better to say as an already implanted organic cosmic AI on earth, following the development of illusionism, to Tesla’s first teleautomation experiments, all the way to VR, AI, cyborgs and space civilization agendas that we live today as a normal situation …


3. It is great that the exhibition opened in the county of Tesla’s birth. What is your opinion of Croatia’s relationship with Tesla in terms of tourism promotion. Should it be doing more?

Ah … you know I started in 2014 a big project PLAY CROATIA where I envisioned that one day people will watch online cartoons “Croatian Tales of Long Ago”, I did years ago, and within cartoons fisherman Palunko, or little Yagor, or the fairy Kosjenka will bring them to Lika, Mljet, Korcula … but I can see this vision coming true right now, thanks to this exhibition, people in positions of authority are starting to realize the real potential of real storytelling concepts and projects … so Tesla Caravan and Tesla Quest, branches of Mechanical Figures that I developed also over many years, can bring back Play Croatia concept, and this can truly change the Croatian tourism promotion with Tesla as a leading story … we can’t just say Tesla and expect things will just happen … as you see Elon Musk can do that because he did big things under the name TESLA, so same we have to do, one is already done, that is this amazing expo, but that is just a rocket fuel for other branches … like our TESLA QUEST, or TESLA CARAVAN … or SECRET LIKA … or TESLOPOLIS concept of a city for a future sustainable integral living etc … but we also have to be patient and work hard to keep the flame burning, as no good thing can happen overnight … okay except the birth of TESLA 😉


4. The exhibition will continue to other cities of importance in Tesla’s life – Budapest, Prague, Paris, New York, before ending in Dubai? Explain the Dubai connection.

The Dubai connection is actually the strongest one, as it is going to be one of those few World Expos that will change the world, as did the Columbian Expo 1893 in Chicago, where Tesla and Westinghouse got the job to electrify the fair, which later on led to the contract for the Niagara power plant, which actually started the beginning of new civilization that is now on the turning point again … so we can expect something like that to happen in Dubai at 2020, and it is a great challenge, even just to have it as idea right now to come there and maybe be the one who will light up that big spark with the TESLA sparkling inspiration … I already started my personal research and work on that and I feel it is going to be a great one … in a few weeks I already had first meetings in Dubai to test my latest ideas … so I wish to myself the right currents to glide me to walk this path with this strong and creative Tesla inspiration and support I have right now. What kind of change we can expect, I can’t tell you right now ….. it is also important to keep a secret hidden, until you have the right tools to present it in front of others, and that is one important lesson I learned from Tesla


5. Will the exhibition be the same in each city, or will there be minor changes to reflect location?

The concept and visual and design approach is the same since 2005 😉 but sure, in every place it will get the feel that is most valuable to tell at that place. The most challenging for me is the new collaborations that we will open in each new place with local artists, cultural managers, galleries and others … It is so Tesla, to be in your work always in the same general mood, but at the same time always fresh like a garden of life … the natural change and growth of the story is the essence of a new art style that I envisioned for this expo – Natura Futuristica, and I am glad that I will be able to develop it further, to grow within it into a better person and giving opportunity to all new collaborators to feel the same, instead of repeating the old one. This is a new era of storytellers who are basically always telling the same story, but never in the same mood, time, place and audience … and that is how that story becomes more than just a story … that is how that story became life …


6. Tell us about the balance between education (there is a LOT of great information on the audio guide) and interaction (some very fun things for all ages) – how hard was it find a balance between the two?

You made me laugh with this one, as I didn’t realize that it is something that can be hard to blend and balance … well it is me … it is truly me … I use knowledge to play around, so I thought that giving that experience to the visitor can click in them this spark of a playfulness, and importance of humor and all this “childish” things in our life that we are forced to abandon when we enter certain age or life path … and it seems to me that if nothing else, I managed to do that J ..


7. You obviously learned a lot about Tesla from your research. Give us a couple of your favourite findings that are perhaps not so well known.

I will for sure recommend reading Tesla’s autobiography My Inventions and only one authorized biography “Prodigal Genius” by John O’Neil, then for sure web pages like and .. … but generally speaking somehow I have a talent to merge some other research I did within my professional film and art work about film, animation photography, cognitive psychology, esoteric researches, philosophy, physics etc that somehow, with the interviews I did, and all the people I meet, led me to make certain conclusions about Tesla that nobody has done so far, or recognized within all these tons of his texts and facts form his life … so in general I think the exhibition catalogue, that will be soon published, will be a good starting point for anyone who wants to have a keyword base to learn about things that are in relation to Tesla and integral life for the future, in general.


8. How do you think Tesla would have reacted if he had seen 1) this wonderful exhibition touring the globe in his footsteps, and 2) that the world’s top electric car, Rimac Concept Two, was made in his native Croatia?

Oh I know how he would react, he would come with RImac Concept Two to pick me up, and we would drive in 33 minutes from Zagreb to the top of Velebit, just next to his home in Smiljan, near Samograd, and it will be a beautiful stormy summer night, perfect to watch a lightning sky show and contemplate the bright future for this Rivendel that we are fortunate to have as our motherland. And then Rimac will come up with a super speed push of tremendous entrepreneur enthusiasm for all bright ideas that can be brought to light when you have this beautiful place to be your source of life and inspiration.

Learn more about the exhibition, Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future on the official exhibition website.



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