Exhibition: ‘A New Jerusalem’ at synthesis gallery

Text by CLOT Magazine

A New Jerusalem, Michael Takeo, synthesis gallery, 2019

synthesis gallery is a first-of-its-kind space dedicated to the VR artform. A fusion of technology and art, it brings immersive virtual reality experiences produced by established and rising avant-garde creatives that experiment with the thin line between the physical and virtual worlds.

It is a place to lose yourself in the transient state between dreamland and reality and explore the uncharted territories of your own mind. Different media are merged together, and conventional artforms entwine with VR technology to create extraordinary encounters. Founded by George Vitale in 2017 in New York, synthesis opened its doors to the public in Berlin last year and has consistently been chosen to participate in Berlin Art Week. 

The gallery returns to Berlin Art Week in 2019, opening its season with A New Jerusalem by Michael Takeo Magruder on September 11. The Book of Revelation describes a path from destruction to redemption and unveiling in the form of a new holy city called New Jerusalem rising from the ashes of the old world. A New Jerusalem is an immersive VR installation that aims to represent the hopeful message of the Book’s narrative.

The viewers can step into the shoes of the storyteller, John the Seer, and experience this magnificent megalopolis. The foundation of the city’s design and architecture is based entirely on the descriptions from the Book. At the same time, some details have been filled in using Google Maps data of Jerusalem today. The resulting imagined city is not completely alien but an amalgamation of real-life and fantasy, urging the visitors to ponder about devastation and rebirth. 

Last season the gallery held ten events spanning a variety of media, from poetry and dance to sculpture and photography all elegantly interlaced with VR exploring the most diverse topics. Same But Different by Marc Lee, for instance, highlighted the evolutionary nature of modern digital technology by submerging visitors into virtual landscapes endlessly shifting and reforming due to the continuous influx of new photos, videos, and sounds posted to social media networks in real-time.

By contrast, Yu Hong and Nikita Shalenny experimented with more abstract ideas like the altered passage of time in So Far, Still So Close, observing various timelines of the main character going back and forth through time. Some focused on the physical world, investigating the motion and impermanence of the transition of elements into different states (Bruteforce by A/A). In contrast, others examined real-life historical events and dissected them using pop culture and historical references (Woe From Wit by Adam Broomberg & Olivier Chanarin).

Website http://synthesis.gallery/
(Media courtesy of synthesis gallery)
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