Joey Holder: Cryptid
Joey Holder: Cryptid

Curator & Artists

Curator:Poppy Dongxue Wu

20231217 - 20240225







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 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 multispecies ethnography 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 the Artist


Joey Holder is an artist whose work raises philosophical questions of our universe and things yet unknown, regarding the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions. Holder has exhibited widely in the UK & internationally including the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Athens Biennale, Design Museum, Sydney Biennale, Transmediale & Venice Biennale. She is the director of SPUR, an online platform which supports digital practice and the director of Chaos Magic, an arts project space in Nottingham. Working with scientific and technical experts she makes immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Her artwork is fuelled by continued dialogue and collaborations with researchers & practitioners from varied fields. She creates fictional worlds & constructed environments that respond directly to contemporary, real world events. Each artwork is considered a ‘set’ with filmic, narrative, architectural, visuals & sound elements created uniquely for the conceptual underpinning of the project.


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


Funding Organisation



The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.

About The Artists

About The Curators