The Barbican is a world-class arts and learning centre, attempting to push the boundaries of art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts.

Veil is a design collaboration with visual artist Iain Nicholls, who approached us about creating a site specific virtual reality installation.


We developed Veil, an innovative art installation that uses virtual reality (VR) technologies to transport visitors into an alternate reality where they can experience art in new and extraordinary ways; in the process subverting the gallery experience.

Each installation of Veil is site specific and as such has to be experienced in the context of a gallery or exhibition space. The piece explores the concepts of recursion, alternate realities and space referencing the works of Diego Velazquez, Casper David Fredrick, Hans Holbein and early pioneers of film. The installation centres round a custom plinth on which sits a humble model house made of cardboard. A virtual reality headset is attached to the plinth that the visitor is invited to wear.

The Experience

Whilst wearing the headset they find themselves back in the familiar exhibition space with the plinth and house exactly where they are in the physical world. However in this reality things are subtly different and the model house begins to change and take on special properties.

Through the act of examining the participant can pass between the models interior and exterior. The interiors are worlds in themselves with surreal semi-narrative sequences that the participant can interact with.

Whilst the virtual space can only truly be experienced by the participant, other observers in the gallery can engage with them through a set of images and sounds that relate to their journey. Thus Veil intertwines the real and virtual worlds.

Veil was debuted to much acclaim at the Barbican in August and had a further successful run at the Herrick Mayfair. A truly unique experience that explores the artistic frontiers of virtual reality. The project was financially supported by Arts Council England.


Design: Iain Nicholls, Tom Szirtes
3D Modelling: Iain Nicholls
Development: Tom Szirtes
Audio: Ali Tocher, Tom Szirtes
Supported by Arts Council England

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