‘Ixian Gate’ is a Mind-bending VR Ride Through the World of Artist Jess Johnson


Ixian Gate is a unique, psychedelic virtual reality experience formed from a collaboration between artist Jess Johnson, Music Video director Simon Ward and VFX artist Kenny Smith, based on Johnson’s dazzlingly bizarre creations. The results of this unlikely pairing is teased in this beguiling trailer and forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition.

Jess Johnson is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist Jess Johnson, whose memorable, “reality warping” work is set to be the focus of an exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery Victoria, entitled ‘Wurm Haus’.

Forming the centrepiece of the exhibition is a virtual reality experience created by music video director Simon Ward, whose work is showcased here, with the assistance of VFX artist Kenny Smith, whose list of credits include The Hobbit (2013) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014) pieced together a virtual world together based on Johnson’s work. Rendered on the Oculus Rift DK2, the experience is offers what looks to be an amazing, trippy ride into the artists mind.

“It’s quite dystopian in nature,” says Johnson as part of a full interview to be published soon, “A lot of my drawings show architectural monuments’ of some alien civilization and are populated with contorted humanoid figures and bat-faced aliens. Over time the world has grown more complex.”


The VR experience was a first-time collaboration for the trio “I gave Simon scans of all my drawings from the last few years and he used them to start building his own version of my world.” Johnson says, “We also had the help of Kenny Smith who was like the conduit from the 3D into the gaming program. It was made using the game engine Unity. It was all a massive learning experience during the course of creating it.”

The VR experience isn’t yet planned to be released publicly, you’ll need to visit the ‘Wurm Haus’ exhibition itself from December to do that – after which the artists will consider a public release.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.