by Jess Johnson + Simon Ward

XYZZY is a testament to the transformative power of art and its capacity to challenge norms and inspire audiences.

Anna Paterson, Now or Never Festival, Melbourne

* * * * *

A prodigious visual feast created by New Zealand artists Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, the result is a mind-boggling experience that tilts your world upside down.

Celina Lei, Artshub, Australia

* * * * *

Johnson’s compositions – which include disconcerting flesh sculptures, fuzzy worms, and Harlequin-esque figures – are animated into circular, rotating patterns. It is, for want of a better phrase, buzzy as hell.

The Spinoff

XYZZY is an immersive, fulldome cinematic
experience by artists Jess Johnson and Simon Ward.

Designed for planetariums, XYZZY will lead you on a psychedelic musical odyssey through the complex fictional world the artists have been evolving over a decade-long collaborative practice.

Video director Simon Ward created XYZZY by translating Jess’s hand-drawn compositions into animated webs of flesh mandalas, self-replicating architecture, undulating worms, hallucinogenic pattern, and messianic alien deities. The dynamic visual atmosphere is charged with 90s-inspired electronic synthesiser tracks from musicians Andrew Clarke, Luke Rowell, Stef Animal and Lachlan Anderson.

Drawings by Jess Johnson

Attendance at Now or Never Festival: 2033 across 14 sessions (average $25 per ticket)
Now or Never Festival Testimonial