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Topsy Turvy (2020) is an abstract virtual reality painting of two halves. It was made to encourage us (me in the making and you in the encounter) to question what it is we understand as painting today. Scrolling down is recommended to not only reveal a selection of stills and clips taken in VR, but also giving a small sense of the unfolding abstract narrative that is further supported through a graphic novel-like format.

In Topsy I used tools that produce painterly marks that resemble physical paint, or what we might recognise paint to look like. It is based in an environment lit with daylight or a white light. This is in contrast with the other half of the painting, Turvy, which has a more nocturnal setting, and uses many tools that produce marks that behave in a completely alien way compared to what we understand as physical paint.

Both parts of this painting were painted exactly in the same manner. They each are based on one of my physical paint palettes that I have extrapolated from, which involves a sequence of mapping and tracing. Topsy uses an oil paint palette and is made-up of over 43,000 marks and Turvy uses a luminous acrylic paint palette and is made-up of over 10,000 marks.


When Topsy Turvy is encountered through a headset, you can explore by physically navigating through the multitude of layers. This creates an overarching experience of painting as place - here I am inevitably thinking of Diderot’s Promenade. It can also be viewed as a film. As such, I am left wondering, once experienced, can works such as Topsy Turvy turn what we think of as painting on its head? 

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