Paul Hertz

Fools Paradise, 2018

VR experience for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Fool’s Paradise is a virtual world based on the “Proverbs of Hell” of English poet and artist William Blake. Intermedia data structures inform its visual and musical composition, developed in collaboration between artist Paul Hertz and composer Stephen Dembski. Fools Paradise was created as a VR performance for dancer and live music in the CAVE in 2004. The new version repurposes recorded music from the earlier version: everything else is new. Visually, Fools Paradise riffs on English Romantic gardens and the changing aesthetics of VR, from the CAVE to game engines and goggles. Perched on a highland in the form of an immense open book with a stream of language/water running down its center, the virtual world offers forty-eight interactive pavilions linked by a network of paths. Each pavilion interprets a proverb as a song composed by Stephen Dembski for soprano, flute, cello, and spoken voice, as a mask (by Mark Klink), and as calligraphy (by Koy Suntichotinun). Blake’s proverbs reject intolerance and offer a plea for intellectual freedom that still resonates today. Fools Paradise pays homage to Blake as an intermedia artist avant la lettre, an artist who melded poetry with image in his handmade books.


Gallery version released 2018 by Digital Museum of Digital Art, Desktop version planned for 2019.


Gallery installation has a variable duration, from 5 to 10 minutes is typical. The pavilions with their masks and songs are reset for each visitor. Downloadable game version due for release in 2019 takes about an hour to visit all pavilions and includes exploration of other areas of the virtual world with information on William Blake and the artists involved in the project.




Paul Hertz is an independent artist, teacher, and curator. He has worked with computers for over thirty years, producing an extensive and varied body of algorithmic and interactive art. In Spain from 1971 to 1983, he collaborated with musicians and theatrical groups and developed an intermedia generative system, "IgnoTheory," which was used in the generative process of Fools Paradise and many earlier works. He delights in strange and responsive worlds, dysfunctional fortunetelling, faux symbolism, intermedia, code sourcery, glitching, and social interface design. 

If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.