Will Pappenheimer

Ascension of Cod VR, 2020

VR experience for HTC Vive

Ascension of Cod VR is a virtual reality version of a site specific augmented reality work by the artist located at the Salem Historical Site in Massachusetts. From Colonial times onward, Salem merchant trade prominently featured the export of cod fish. Massachusetts Bay cod, the Atlantic Cod or Gadus morhua, were so plentiful that they became known as “Sacred Cod,” the hallmark of New England fisheries, even affecting events in the American Revolution. However, a 2014 NOAA scientific survey revealed that up to 80% of the cod have been either fished out or suffered from the effects of warming oceans. Resulting restrictions on fishing gave rise to a struggle between the fisherman's livelihood and the sciences behind the fisheries’ regulation. “Ascension of Cod,” suggests the shared hallowed role that the species plays in these two perspectives. The VR version of the work, creates a similar school of cod swimming upwards towards the heavens in a column of light, but now located in a distant land that could be anywhere. The experience, a journey of 3 minutes, suggests both a reverence and potential farewell vision of the species that has fed human kind so well.




Will Pappenheimer is inspired by Miwon Kwon’s 1997 prophetic understanding that “site has been transformed from a physical location-grounded, fixed, actual--to a discursive vector--ungrounded, fluid, virtual…” Though his works are diverse in content, they are driven by an interest in shifting spatial and object relations, often as a form of spacial or institutional intervention. Some works focus on site specificity, events, cityscapes or landscapes, to explore intersections of origin, function, meaning, aesthetics, and social or cultural context. Others employ images or domestic tableau as sites to host coexistent virtual scenes or characters. His projects and performances have been shown internationally at Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, LA; San Francisco MOMA; Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; FACT, Liverpool, UK; Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair; Fringe Exhibitions in LA; the ICA, CyberArts and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, DC; FILE, Sao Paulo, BR; the New Museum and the 2017 Moving Image Art fair in New York. My works have been reviewed in Christiane Paulʼs recent historical edition of “Digital Art,” Art in America, New York Times, Hyperallergic.org, WIRED, the Boston Globe, EL PAIS, Madrid, Liberation, Paris, and Bloomberg TV’s Art + Technology series.

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