Jess Johnson

The Longevity of Myth Nostalgic Computer Art from an Imaginary Post-Computer World

By Rebecca Gallo NOV 2015

It’s unsurprising to learn that Jess Johnson’s art practice has evolved out of a combination of odd and intriguing projects, ideas and career choices. Informed by a solid appetite for science fiction, space horror and alternative realities, her precise and detailed drawings are steeped in speculative worlds, doom-laden psychedelia and band poster graphics. They are neo-Escher on acid in a digital post-apocalypse.

The New Zealand-born artist painted on canvas at art school, but she also kept private journals of sketches that probably held the most interesting and telling material. Upon moving to Melbourne in the mid-2000s she worked as a gallery technician for many of the city’s major art institutions, using their offcuts to set up Hell Gallery, which she co-directed with Jordan Marani from 2008 to 2011. Johnson produced hand-drawn posters for Hell’s gigs and exhibitions, garnering somewhat of a cult following in the process, with reproductions appearing on share house walls around Melbourne. After Hell froze over, Johnson drew back on the technician work and rented a proper studio. Over time she was able to wind the install work down altogether and immerse herself in increasingly complex worlds of her own making. Johnson describes time spent in the studio as climbing into a space at the back of her skull. You can almost imagine a miniature Jess ankle-deep in sludge, setting up a tiny projector behind her eyes to cast what she finds back ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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Bendigo Art Gallery Museum of BrisbaneACCA MelbourneNGA NGVMCA