A virtual reality experience by artist John M Walter
as part of 131st Annual Exhibition of the Paisley Art Institute
Unit 43a+54, The Piazza, Paisley PA1 2EL
7 September – 20 October 2019
Tue-Sat 11.30am-5.30pm & Sun 12noon-5pm
Fourth Wall by
John Walter is a 360° immersive video exhibited in Virtual Reality. His first VR
work, it builds on his experience of working in video, animation,
computer-aided design, collage, painting and sculpture but abbreviates these
approaches into a completely new kind of maximalist aesthetic by compressing
and hybridising them.
extraordinary Marischal College in Aberdeen is the setting for The Fourth
Wall. It features within the composition, recurring as a leitmotif that
changes scale and character over time much like a melody varies within a
song. Images and slogans from John’s repertoire are conjoined in a kind of
“complex adaptive system” of saturated colour that creates a dizzying
immersive experience. It’s like being inside a painting rather than other VR
experience, which draw on gaming and architectural aesthetics. New songs, such
as Heirloom Carrot, written and performed by the artist, link the
diverse images and ideas within the VR composition together and reflect on
Walter’s ongoing interest in how evolutionary virology can be used to think
about the spread of cultural forms such as the paisley pattern (buta).
innovates how VR is exhibited. Walter has customised cable-free Oculus Go
headsets by mounting masks on them transforming viewers into performers as
well. Chaperones wear colourful tabards that feature images from the VR and
host viewers who may or may not be familiar with VR – bridging the gap between
the fictional world of the VR and the real world outside of it.
says of The Fourth Wall “I’ve left it raw to make it more visceral and
more like being inside a video, a painting or a collage. Video wipes, fades and
transitions wrap around you. Rapid shifts in scale and texture that might be
familiar on a screen are unusual and fresh when experienced in VR. How often
have you had the opportunity to fly through a paisley shawl?”
Walter (b. Dartford, 1978) is a visual artist working across a diverse range of
media including painting, moving image and installation. He studied at Chelsea
School of Art and Design, The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, The Slade
School of Fine Art and was awarded a doctorate by The University of Westminster
in 2017. In 2006 he was artist in residence at KIAC in Dawson City, Canada.
Between 2006-8 he was Sainsbury Scholar at The British School at Rome. He was a
participant in Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2012. In 2017 he
undertook a residency at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Wellcome Trust and Arts
Council England have supported his work. He was awarded the 2016 Hayward
Curatorial Open for Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness. The Arts
Council Collection and The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool have collected his
work. Recent exhibitions include: The Fourth Wall (Look Again Festival,
Aberdeen, 2019); Booze Guitar (Matt’s Gallery, 2018); CAPSID
(CGP and HOME, 2018); Somewhere in Between (Wellcome Collection, 2018); Coming
Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity (Walker Art Gallery, 2017).
Supported by Outspoken Arts Scotland and PAI.