Jess Johnson’s geometric illustrations might leave you feeling slightly anxious, like the apocalypse is approaching. Now imagine if these 2D images became 3D, if these static renderings somehow became tangible… That’s what Ixian Gate is like, the groundbreaking virtual reality artwork that she has created in collaboration with video maker Simon Ward. The technically masterful animation opens this December at the NGV, as the piece de resistance of Jess’s Worm Haus exhibition. Viewers will be situated around an “altar,” donning Oculus Rift headsets and becoming completely immersed in an acid-flashback, future-dystopia where nothing is quite as it seems and your senses might just fool you into thinking that the unreal is real.
Check out the trailer below:
“When Simon introduced the animated worms—even though they were pretty rudimentary—I had an absolute terror freak-out reaction to them. I wasn’t able to look at them. I had to hide and turn my back to them for the first few runs until I got desensitised enough that I could look at them without having to tear the headset off! I feel like I get really immersed in there,” Jess told The Creators Project when we interviewed her about the project in July.
Speaking on comparisons to outer-body, drug-induced experiences, Jess said, “With this technology I don’t have to tell someone what my psychedelic drug experience is, I can put the headset on them and download that experience into their brain. That’s what it’s like, it’s an effective conduit from one brain to another.”
Jess Johnson’s drawing, Gilgamesh (2015), one of the reference points for Ixian Gate