"De/coding the Apocalypse": Contemporary Artistic Insights into the Past, Present, and Future of the Book of Revelation

What new insights into the Apocalypse can be gained by interdisciplinary collaboration? This paper discusses the outcome of a collaborative project which focused on uniting biblical scholarship and cutting edge artistic practices to re-present the Book of Revelation for the digital age. "De/coding the Apocalypse" was the result, an art exhibition which visual artist Michael Takeo Magruder produced in in dialogue with King’s College London’s Theology and Religious Studies department. Displayed in London’s Somerset House, the exhibition presented five installations exploring Revelation through leading edge technology including virtual reality, real-time data, 3D printing, computer-generated barcodes and video games. However, this was not a predictable ‘visions of the future’ exhibition, but something far more slippery, described by the artist not as “destruction” but as “an unveiling” of the text. Each room was based upon a scholarly essay on an aspect of the Book: its reception history, cultural heritage, use of HB texts and theology. The insights into the text offered from this were ground-breaking, as Takeo’s artistic creations fused advanced technological systems with traditional artistic forms ranging from painting and sculpture to engraving and weaving, creating a tension between the past of the text and the future it looks into. One of the five scholars involved in the realisation of the exhibition will present the paper, giving a ‘hands on’ reflection of the academic and artistic processes. Each room and the scholarship behind it will be discussed. The paper will then move onto the interpretative insights which this experience has provided for scholarship on Revelation, and how such visual re-imaginings can alter how we view the Apocalypse. Finally, a review of the importance of such collaborative projects will be offered, outlining the tensions and the creative processes behind the end result. An introduction to the exhibition can be viewed here: http://www.crane.tv/apocalypse-now.