Joey Holder: Cryptid

Joey Holder: Cryptid

X Museum

Joey Holder, Cryptid, 2023. Courtesy the artist.

December 10, 2023
Joey Holder
X Virtual Incubator
December 17, 2023–February 25, 2024
X Museum
Chaoyang District
Langyuan Station, E1 (Building 10), No.53 Banjie Tower Road
Weibo / Instagram / Instagram

For the third edition of X Virtual Incubator commission programme, titled Cryptid, artist Joey Holder explores the limitations of Western scientific taxonomy through the lens of cryptozoology and research on plankton. The multimedia exhibition comprises an AR installation and a two-channel video showing layered footage from laboratory cameras and cryptozoology forums, set to an experimental electronic score by Ptwiggs. Through diagrammatic aesthetics, the artist employs the visual language of science—images derived from microscopy, cosmograms, and illustrative diagrams—to construct the speculative plankton of the underwater world.

A Cryptid 3D virtual world is available on X Virtual for users to explore the unknown, artistic territories of the sea.

A Cryptid is a creature that may or may not exist, disputed by mainstream science. This project speculates on these creatures alongside those that have been “captured” or catalogued by mankind. The mythical depth of cryptids rendered by anecdotal stories and folklore brings about a critical space where pseudoscience comes to challenge mainstream science in this post-truth era. Using 3D modelling, AI generative images of deep sea creatures, and mystical symbology, Holder reveals the interdimensional zone these creatures occupy across popular culture and their crucial role for all lifeforms. Plankton, a catch-all term for microscopic marine creatures, plays a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate and forms the basis of the global food chain. Plankton is broadly defined by ecological niche and motility instead of phylogenetic classification—organisms carried by tides and currents. The artist delves into this taxonomy-defied collection of organisms to examine Western cultural views on Othering.

With 91% of life in the sea falling outside the taxonomic system, remaining unexplored, unnamed, and uncatalogued, “cryptids” becomes an embodiment of the unknown, a slippery term for desire and fear of humans. Cryptid stems from critical reflections on Anthropocentrism deeply rooted in Euro-western philosophies. Positioning eco over ego, the project recognises the constraints and consequences such beliefs have imposed on the landscape of modern humanity, science, and biology. It underscores ecological justice and species justice through an ecofeminist approach to the world of organisms.

Cryptid is a cross-disciplinary project informed by the artist’s collaboration with marine biologists, technologists, and fellow artists.

About X Virtual
Launched by X Museum in 2019, X Virtual is a digital art platform that cultivates new artistic 3D spaces within virtual realms. X Virtual provides a digital infrastructure – an interoperable network of virtual worlds—that encourages new artistic productions and critical practices. Our initiative involves commissioning artists to create audio-visual spaces on X Virtual’s online platform, hosting both online and offline exhibitions, and facilitating virtual gatherings, including workshops and talks.

As an affiliate initiative of the museum, dedicated to nurturing virtual worlds, X Virtual aims to foster new thoughts, discourses, and interdisciplinary practices in the context of emerging Web3-centred technologies, including XR, AI, and game engines. By collaborating with artists, technologists, architects, game designers, filmmakers, and other digital creators from diverse backgrounds, we are committed to building an accessible digital art platform within the rapidly evolving Web3 virtual worlds, for everyone.

Cryptid is a project by Joey Holder
Sound design by Ptwiggs
Creature modelling by Finley Stewart
Animations by Copy Planet
X Virtual Incubator: Cryptid is curated by Poppy Dongxue Wu
Project team: Pete Jiadong Qiang, Ian Donghui Lyu, Alaric Xinhao Cao

Press contact: media [​at​]

This project is funded by the British Council’s UK-China Connections through Culture (CTC) Grants.

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X Museum
December 10, 2023

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