Bringing virtual reality artwork to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) for the first time, Jess Johnson’s Wurm Haus – a psychedelic, reality-warping space with a virtual ‘mind meld’ station at its centre, will open at NGV International on 5 December 2015.
Using the latest Oculus Rift technology, Wurm Haus invites visitors to approach a monumental star-shaped ‘altar’ and don virtual reality headsets to experience Johnson’s new animation Ixian Gate, set in a dystopic universe inspired by science fiction, parallel universes, comic books and the visionary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Eleven of Johnson’s intricate, large-scale drawings will also be presented in the space upon artist-designed wallpaper and pixelated carpet, creating an entrancing and richly layered environment. Viewers are taken on a journey through an otherworldly planet of strange creatures, alien architecture and ancient symbols, with an extraordinary sense of depth, scale and stereophonic sound.
“Jess Johnson is renowned for her incredibly experiential installations and Wurm Haus takes this to a new level, allowing viewers to explore Johnson’s environment in 360-degrees and seamlessly look around as if they are physically inside her artwork,” says Tony Ellwood, Director NGV.
“At once hypnotic and disorientating, cutting-edge Oculus Rift virtual reality technology completely immerses viewers in her world like never before. We’re thrilled to commission, premiere and acquire this new work, making it the first virtual reality artwork in the NGV Collection.”
Born in New Zealand and based in Melbourne, Johnson has exhibited in Melbourne Now at the NGV, Primavera at the MCA, won the John McCaughey Memorial Prize in 2013 and co-founded and ran Hell Gallery from 2008 and 2011, a multi-purpose gallery and performance space that operated from her warehouse home in Melbourne. In 2013 she undertook an Asialink residency at Tokyo Wonder Site and in January 2016 she will undertake the Australia Council’s Greene Street studio residency in New York.
Jess Johnson: Wurm Haus
NGV International, 180 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 5 December 2015 – 31 January 2016
For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: Jessica Johnson, Ixian Gate 2015 (still) colour virtual reality animation, sound, 5 min 35 sec © Jess Johnson courtesy of Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney; and Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland