The artist in the black bodysuit who prefers to remain anonymous

By Khaya Ndaba

You will most certainly notice him when you see him on the streets of Johannesburg. He is a half man/half digital entity, and goes by the name of “Xopher Wallace”.

It is not his real name, but that is how the 29-year-old artist prefers it. Xopher likes to go incognito — he does so by dressing in a black morph suit, which is a skin-tight costume that literally covers him from head to toe. With that he wears silver steampunk goggles and a black hoodie — just to make sure he stays anonymous. 

“I prefer not to be known; I want the art and the digital experience to capture your mind so you can think in different ways,” he tells Scrolla.Africa

Xopher is a real person, but he blurs the boundaries of what an artistic experience can be.

He plays around with his Xopher Wallace alter ego as a means of putting his art first. “The creation of Xopher was inspired mostly by Japanese Anime, virtual reality and photography,” he explains.

He uses augmented reality (AR) technology to blend the physical world and the digital world through mobile phone filters. 

“Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, AR users experience a real-world environment with generated perceptual information overlaid on top of it,” according to the Techtarget website.

Xopher’s introduction to visual arts came when his mom bought him and his brother a video camera in high school. They used it to recreate their favourite music videos. He got into conceptual photography a few years after graduating from Boston Media House.

Xopher’s most recent work includes a show made during lockdown called “Inside/Outside Gallery”, which was a completely AR exhibition.

Xopher is also a visual narrator, cinematographer, conceptual photographer and filmmaker.

Between 2014 and 2022 he worked as a digital creator for Curiosity Africa, POP Art, Virtual National Arts Festival and FNB Art Joburg. He also curated an online exhibition called “Afrodelic Trip: Faces of Mixed Realities” for the Fakugesi African Digital Innovation Festival.

He has partnered with a number of musicians, like Money Badoo, Zulo and Moonchild Sanelly for their musical campaigns, using augmented reality.

Xopher’s next project is a Red Bull digital filter project, set to be launched later this year. He is also working on a solo exhibition called “Sleepwalker”, scheduled for November.

Pictured above: Anonymous artist Xopher Wallace

Image source: Nike & Archive

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