The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people, businesses and organisations to completely overhaul how they operate, either closing completely or enhancing their online presence. New Zealand artists Jess Johnson and Simon Ward were touring their Terminus exhibition when the pandemic struck, so they’ve now brought it to Oculus Rift for you at home to enjoy.
Created as a five-part psychedelic virtual reality (VR) experience, Terminus was commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia. Already shown at the Heide Museum of Contemporary Art (Melbourne), Jack Hanley Gallery (New York), and Nanzuka Gallery (Tokyo) before the lockdowns commenced, once that happened Johnson and Ward then went about compiling the various parts for home audiences.
Presented as a sort of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’, Terminus lets you journey through five trippy realms, Fleshold Crossing; Unknown; Scumm Engine; Gog & Magog and Tumblewych.
“As an artist, I’m really excited by the psychological implications of being able to position an audience essentially within my artwork. I think VR is the most effective conduit from one brain to another that’s ever existed. With VR you can seduce someone into accepting an entirely new reality,” says Johnson in a statement.
“Instead of using VR to simulate reality we’ve tried to make Jess’s world a dream space where the rules of reality don’t apply,” Ward adds.
2020 has seen other examples of artists looking to connect in virtual ways, two of the most recent via The Museum of Other Realities. Fashion show The Fabric of Reality and Cannes XR Virtual both held events inside the app.