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).
21Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; 3and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. 7He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. 8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; 13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man’s measure, that is, an angel’s. 18The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, 25and its gates shall never be shut by day—and there shall be no night there; 26they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.