De/coding the Apocalypse

v1.1 by: Michael Takeo Magruder, 2018

A visual art exhibition exploring contemporary creative visions inspired by and based on the Book of Revelation.

About the Project:

De/coding the Apocalypse is a visual art exhibition that investigates our enduring fascination with the Book of Revelation, updating and interrogating both its positive and negative aspects. The word 'apocalypse' originally indicated an 'unveiling', and the Book itself not only documents the destruction of the current world, but also maps out the creation of a new, better one.

The exhibition consists of five new media installations that are constructed using a range of digital technologies (such as computers, mobile devices, code systems, live data and user interactivity) and physical materials associated with traditional installation, painting, print, video and sculpture. This blending of new and old updates and expands the concepts and contexts that have surrounded the Book of Revelation throughout its history. By aligning contemporary art and theological study, the exhibition aims to create new ways of looking at the ancient text and make it relevant for modern audiences.


The Horse as Technology - A new media installation reflecting upon the Book of Revelation that proposes the 'horse' is a symbol of technology which embodies transformation and maintains the power to either create or destroy.

Playing the Apocalypse (in dialogue with Dr. Aaron Rosen) - An algorithmic triptych reflecting on how the Book of Revelation's apocalyptic visions and narratives manifest in today's digital pop culture.

Revelation as Mirror (in dialogue with Dr. Natasha O'Hear) - A set of digital 'stained-glass windows' that considers how the Book of Revelation is often used as a lens to contextualise the present.

Apocalypse Forever (in dialogue with Dr. Michelle Fletcher) - A modular new media installation that endlessly generates contemporary visual interpretations of the Book of Revelation.

A New Jerusalem (in dialogue with Prof. Edward Adams) - An immersive virtual reality installation that seeks to embody the spirit of the new Jerusalem as described in the Book of Revelation.

Artistic Reflection:

I was a child of the Cold War era living in my nation's capital surrounded by the incessant rhetoric and proxy wars of two ideologically opposed superpowers – all made real by the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. Even at that young age I was already fascinated with both technology and religion. Upon reading the Book of Revelation for the first time I wondered to myself if John the Seer wrote of things like locust hordes and falling stars because he could not understand, much less describe, swarms of apache helicopters and the sight of missiles raining from an evening sky.

Now, three decades later, I watch my daughter grow up in a very different world that is defined by data, networks and code. And in this age of such technological possibility and destructive potential, I can't help but wonder what end times she imagines in her own quiet moments of personal reflection. Her fears (or hopes) about the final days that she might witness are certainly not the same as those from my youth. My dreams never materialised, but hers might. So I look to her and try to understand what is her Apocalypse.

In Dialogue with:

Simon Robinson (project director, CenSAMM) and Gemma Papineau (manager, Panacea Museum)

With Critical Inputs from:

Prof. Ben Quash [ lead academic ] and Alfredo Cramerotti [ curator ]

Prof. Edward Adams, Dr. Michelle Fletcher, Dr. Natasha O’Hear and Dr. Aaron Rosen [ academic 'readings' ]

Martin McGrath [ graphic identity ]

Drew Baker, Erik Fleming and Ben Jastram [ technology design ]

With Thanks to:

Emma Puente [ media production ] . Peter James [ installation support ]

Supported by:

De/coding the Apocalypse v1.1 at the Panacea Museum, Bedford (2018) was commissioned by the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) for its international conference Apocalypse in Art: The Creative Unveiling with funds from the Panacea Charitable Trust. Version 1.0 of the exhibition was presented at Somerset House, London (2014) by the Cultural Institute at King’s College London in partnership with contemporary art centre MOSTYN and the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at King’s. The exhibition's initial research phase (2012-13) was funded by the Leverhulme Trust's artist-in-residence programme. Selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D prints for the exhibition were generously supplied by the 3D Lab, Technische Universität Berlin.

Online Resources and Reviews:


© TAKEO 2018