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Revered Kiwi Artists Deliver An Out Of This World Cinematic Experience At Stardome

This December, prepare to let your mind bend on a psychedelic musical odyssey through the highly imaginative world of artists Jess Johnson and Simon Ward at the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, the coolest little observatory this side of Neptune.

Mark Sunday 17th of December in your diary for a special treat when the artists arrive at the Stardome for a live Q&A following the 6.30pm and 8.30pm screenings.

Designed specifically for planteriums XYZZY is an immersive, fulldome cinematic experience that offers up a rare chance to engage with music-driven, non-verbal, and experiential art that will tilt your world upside down. Following seasons in Melbourne and Dunedin, this season is XYZZY’s North Island premiere.

“Latex figures of different skin tones perform choreographed, acrobatic movements, while giant space worms of all colours and textures swim in and out of crevasses. The surrounding environment shifts from architectural mazes to pixelated Minecraft caves, technicoloured passageways, dungeon towers and more. Fanged creatures with human limbs and bat-winged demons with checkered skin go about their activities, acknowledging our presence but unfazed by our existence.” ArtsHub – Melbourne

XYZZY allows audiences to enter the complex fictional world the artists have been evolving over a decade-long collaborative practice. Video director Simon Ward created XYZZY by translating Jess’s hand-drawn compositions from her body of work over the last decade. The dynamic visual atmosphere is charged with 90s-inspired electronic synthesizer tracks from musicians Andrew Clarke, Luke Rowell, Stef Animal and Lachlan Anderson.

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This 41-minute long immersive film is not planetary based but is most definitely out of this world. Artist Jess Johnson says "Creating an art-based planetarium experience will introduce our work to new audiences who may not habitually visit contemporary art galleries where our work typically exhibits. We’ve always liked reaching beyond the art-world, and making work accessible to diverse audiences interested in animation, technology, gaming, sci-fi, psychedelia, music and experimental film."

Together, Jess Johnson and Simon Ward have created videos, virtual reality and large-scale immersive installations. Their work has been exhibited worldwide including at Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Art Basel,Hong Kong; Nanzuka Gallery, Tokyo; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, UK; Centre Clark, Montreal; the National Gallery of Australia; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

Designed to be enjoyed collectively, the newly refubrished Stardome Observatory and Planetarium provides both a social hub and state of the art technology to make XYZZY a unique and exciting experience.

“XYZZ is a testament to the transformative power of art and its capacity to challenge norms and inspire audiences” Anna Paterson, Now or Never Festival, Melbourne

Jess Johnson spends her time between New York and New Zealand. She is available for interviews from her current residency in Roswell, New Mexico. Simon Ward is also available for press from his home in Dunedin. Review tickets are also available by arrangement.

XYZZY screens
Saturday 2 December, Wednesday 6 December & Sunday 10 December at 7pm
Friday 8 December at 9.30pm
Sunday 17 Dec - 6.30pm + 8.30pm (followed by artist Q&A’s)

Tickets $18.50 - $20.00
Book at

Artwork Credit
XYZZY by Jess Johnson and Simon Ward
Music by Andrew Clarke, Stef Animal, Luke Rowell, Lachlan Anderson
Sound Design by Lachlan Anderson
Sound Mix by Graham Kennedy
Co-commissioned by Tūhura Otago Museum (NZ) and Now or Never Festival (AU)


Stardome Planetarium and Observatory, located on Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland

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