Jess Johnson (born 1979, Tauranga, NZ) permanently relocated to New York in 2016 after 12 years in Melbourne, Australia. Her drawings explore the speculative intersections between language, science fiction, culture, and technology. Johnson’s artworks are often displayed within constructed environments that act as physical portals into her worlds. Her recent collaborations with video artist Simon Ward have involved translating her drawings into animated video and virtual reality, thus enabling an audience to have the simulated experience of entering the hypnotic realms of her drawings.
Since relocating, Jess has undertaken a year-long studio residency at the International Curatorial & Studio Program in Brooklyn. In 2017 she also completed a 10-week thematic residency for artists working in themes of science fiction at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Nebraska, and a residency at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery in conjunction with a solo exhibition at the Edinburgh Arts Festival. Jess recently presented Terminus, a major virtual reality commission and solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in 2018. It became the first VR artwork acquired by the National Gallery. Other recent exhibitions and presentations include a solo presentation at Art Basel, Hong Kong (2016); Centre Clarke, Montreal (2017); the Toronto International Film Festival (2017); and the Dark Mofo music and art festival, Tasmania (2017).
At MacDowell, she worked on a new body of drawings toward her 2019 solo show at Nanzuka Gallery, Tokyo. She also worked on the development of a sidescroller video game called Genetekka Archaic, set in the world of her drawings, and made in collaboration with New Zealand video artist Simon Ward.