Review by Herman Rapaport, PhD
Reynolds Professor of English
Wake Forest University


“John Fillwalk is a practitioner of intermedia art which, because of developments in cybernetics, is currently an area at the forefront of the arts in the United States as well as abroad. Given the advent of broadband, high definition digital video cameras, plasma screens, webcasting, software editing, and a host of other new developments in various high tech industries, it’s clear that intermedia is going to be playing a major role in blazing new trails with respect to art-making in an electronic environment.

In addition to well-documented national recognition, John Fillwalk has exhibited internationally in locations as varied as Paris, France; Rosario, Argentina; and Melbourne, Australia. He has been working in collaborative situations with major artists like Hans Breder and has a strong track record in terms of receiving grants and funding for his on going projects, among them, Stand, which came out of a competitive commission through iMOCA and Survey, which was funded by the Indiana Arts Commission. At present, John Fillwalk is about to participate in SIGGRPAPH 2010 in Los Angeles and has recently shown at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. Additionally, he participated at the Intermedia Festival (again, in 2010), and has shown in Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven, Netherlands, just last year. Among his many recent professional activities, he has been part of cyberarts festivals in Rome, and has shown work in Singapore, Istanbul, and Switzerland.”

“As someone with a background in art criticism in the context of intermedia, I can say enthusiastically that Fillwalk’s work is of the highest standard of excellence. It ranks with the very best work that is being done in intermedia today, for example, the work of Fiona Tan and Doug Aiken. What makes Fillwalk’s work so outstanding is its ability to dissolve the difference between representational and non-representational forms of expression by means of using a sensitivity to principles of design as an interface whereby the viewer is allowed to glide imperceptibly between realism and abstraction. In the field of photography this has always been highly valued, as in the work of Man Ray and others. But few practitioners of video art have been able to carry this off with the subtlety that I see in Fillwalk’s Polis and Survey wherein attention to color, light, pattern, and repetition are used in a way that brings video and painting into a convincing relationship whereby design principles from the one reinforce the other. In addition, Fillwalk’s correlation of sound to image is very impressive, given that the edits in post-production are extremely nuanced in terms of the music, far more so than, say, in commercial film. That Fillwalk’s digital art doesn’t come across as “tricky” or as a matter of “sleight of hand” is crucial to its viability as art per se.

Judging from works like Three Transpositions, Interlude III, Survey, Polis, and Final Wisdom I (the latter in collaboration with Hans Breder), Fillwalk is making a very significant contribution to the field of intermedia art…”

“In recent years Fillwalk has been pioneering new ventures in environmental cybernetics, in particular, interdisciplinary and collaborative work in the context of a hybrid reality design studio that explores the intersections of art, science and technology. At this stage of his impressive career, Fillwalk is an internationally recognized figure in the research, design, and culture of virtual worlds and as an intermedia artist and academic, he works and mentors in media, in particular, video, interactive installation, and virtual reality.

Of special note is Fillwalk’s recent 'Traversal for Eindhoven' which was a “live performance hybrid reality installation” that bridged the physical and virtual worlds. It connected Philips NatLab in Eindhoven to a virtual environment as part of the 2009 Dutch Design Week. Avatars were able to play a physical synthesizer in the Philips NatLab via an interactive online virtual instrument built by IDIA - located near a 3D model of the Eindoven High Tech Campus. The sound of a live synthesizer was streamed back into Second Life, so the virtual and physical participants could hear their interactions with the instrument.

As Fillwalk’s record amply demonstrates, he has made excellent use of the funding and resources that he has acquired in the past, producing highly significant work that has been shown in national and international contexts and that reflects interdisciplinary and collaborative work that is by its very nature challenging in terms of negotiating the sorts of agreement required for the production of works of excellent quality such as he has produced.”

- Herman Rapaport, 2010