A New Jerusalem by Michael Takeo Magruder

Michael Takeo Magruder

A New Jerusalem, 2014, Real-time VR installation and soundscape, Dimensions variable, [Left] Installation in 'And I Will Take You to Paradise', Art Museum KUBE, Norway ; [Right] Internal view from the Oculus Rift VR headset, Images: copyright and courtesy of the artist

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A New Jerusalem for the Twenty-First Century

Commentary by

Michael Takeo Magruder’s A New Jerusalem is an immersive installation that presents the heavenly city as a dazzling virtual reality environment that only exists in the fourth dimension. It is part of a larger exhibition titled ‘De/coding the Apocalypse’ created to bring the book of Revelation into the digital age.

Each of the five installations that comprise this exhibition is designed to bridge the gap between this ancient text and the wired world using such tools as 3D imaging, video game technology, Google search engines and digital code. While the other installations dwell on the spectres of war, devastation, and destruction that have driven prophecies of the apocalypse from the first century CE to the present, A New Jerusalem offers a more hopeful vision. Using descriptions from the book of Revelation, Magruder offers two views of the New Jerusalem. Presented on a screen, one can view it from the outside as a golden cube with twelve gates that slowly descends from on high. Or, with the assistance of VR glasses one can virtually enter the city and become enveloped by shards of golden light.

To create the architecture of these two perspectives Magruder has combined code generated from the text of the book of Revelation with data from Google Maps of present-day Jerusalem. By this use of advanced technology, Magruder is able to suggest a doubled vision of the New Jerusalem as a place that exists simultaneously above and below, in imagination and in fact. He melds the mythical and actual Jerusalem.

Abstracted and transformed, these two codes create a structure that is at once based on a concrete reality yet unlike anything that might exist on this earth. ‘Coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel’ (Revelation 21:10–11).