Fools Paradise | Music | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Fools Paradise

3/27 – 3/29
Carbondale Community Arts Artspace 304
304 W. Walnut St.

Outside The Box 2019 welcomes the virtual reality installation, ‘Fools Paradise,’ to Carbondale Community Arts Artspace 304. The interactive exhibit involves guests wearing Oculus headsets and exploring a multidimensional virtual world. This experience is free and open to the public from Wednesday, March 27th through Friday, March 29th during CCA’s regular business hours.

Fools 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 (recursive acronym for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, developed at the University of Illinois, Chicago) 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.

The installation was released in 2018 by Digital Museum of Digital Art (DiMoDA).

  • Paul Hertz, project direction, visual and software design
  • Stephen Dembski, musical composition and direction
  • Mark Klink, 3D masks
  • Koy Suntichotinun, calligraphy


  • Juliet Petrus, soprano
  • Mackenzie Danner, flute
  • Danah Albaum, cello
  • Mauricio Ardila, recording engineer

About DiMoDA:

DiMoDA is a pioneering virtual institution, dedicated to commissioning, preserving and exhibiting cutting edge VR artworks. Conceived in 2013 by Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William Robertson, DiMoDA has released three exhibitions, featuring 15 unique, artist-designed, VR experiences. In 2015 DiMoDA 1.0 launched with Transfer Gallery in New York, and has traveled the world since. Thousands of virtual exhibitions have been downloaded worldwide, and IRL Exhibitions have taken place in cities like New York, Miami, Chicago, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Dubai, and Bangkok among others.


 (Click to watch DiModa on Vimeo in a new browser tab)