It takes viewers on a journey of a thousand miles and into the mind of someone whose life experience is very removed from the everyday, without ever leaving the room or lifting their feet. 

A ground-breaking exhibition opens today at the University of Glasgow’s Advanced Research Centre, which promises to take the viewer into the fantastical world of artist Eden Kotting, who was born with the rare condition Joubert’s syndrome.  

Eden’s father Andrew, a filmmaker and Professor whose film ‘Gallivant’ won best film at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1997, collaborated with his daughter to create the virtual reality landscape of The Tell-Tale Rooms, which transports participants into a world of make-believe created by the pair’s vision and memories.  

The 12-minute sequence, viewed through a headset, blends immersive animation, archive and live action as it celebrates the wonders of Eden’s rare view of the world by opening up the doors of perception into a 360 virtual reality space.  

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Paintings come alive, faces speak to the viewer and perspectives shift around as the world warps with every fresh glance.    

Created by stitching together thousands of photographs of the pair’s home in a ramshackle farmhouse in the French Pyrenees, the Tell-Tale Rooms is currently touring the UK and is the latest installment of the father and daughter’s lifelong collaboration.  

The Herald: Eden Kotting Eden Kotting (Image: Andrew Kotting)

Andrew Kotting said: “At about the age of 13-14, her early teens, she was really interested in drawing and painting so we have collaborated on quite a few projects since about that age. 

“But more importantly I made a feature film through the BFI called ‘Gallivant’, and that featured her and my grandmother – we travelled round the UK in a camper van and I think for the first three and a half months I could see that Eden had this potential and was keen to be in front of the camera. 

“Thereafter, we’ve just collaborated. This particular project grew out of some pictures and collages she was doing.” 

The virtual reality tour takes viewers into a series of spaces within the farmhouse - The Room of Memory, The Room of Nostalgia, The Room of Make-Believe, The Room of Hope, The Room of Forgetting, and The Room of Confabulation. 

Each room includes trace elements from Eden growing from a baby, through adolescence, and into adulthood which filter through to viewer in unexpected ways. 

Andrew said: “You put on a headset and for 12 minutes you visit an old farmhouse in the French Pyrenees I bought with my family. It's kind of like a memory hole.  

“It’s a place that’s got brilliant memories and sad memories, and I guess that it’s the catalyst for my writing and thinking and making with Eden.  

“So we locate the audience in that and you are literally off grid in an old dilapidated farmhouse, in a forest, deep in the Pyrenees. When you’re in these rooms, things come alive. Some of the drawings, and posters – basically all the memorabilia and paraphernalia that’s informed my life with Eden and the family for the past 35 years.”  

The Herald: The pair appear as 'psychonauts' in the exhibition The pair appear as 'psychonauts' in the exhibition (Image: Andrew Kotting)

A veteran director of more than 100 short films who has also created art through video, performance, painting, sculpture, collage and sound, Andrew said it was “intensely liberating” to be able to work with virtual reality.  

He Joked: “It’s like burglary. You’re breaking in and snooping about. Things come alive and the more you look, the more you see. 

“It makes you reconsider perception. It makes you reconsider space and time and notions of collage – you can collage images and sound together which pertain to the past. Things are happening all the time. 

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“Things change. It’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland. When you go back into some of the rooms you might be the size of Tom Thumb, and you’re standing under a bit of furniture which 10 minutes ago you were looking down upon. That shift in scale is really important.”  

He added: “It’s a kind of celebration of difference. It makes you think about what’s real and what isn’t real – what's normal and what’s abnormal, and notions about neurodiversity and the acceptance that to be an artist you don’t necessarily have to be good at colouring in, or if it’s sounds you don’t have to be a music work with music or a director to work with films.” 

*The Tell-Tale Rooms is open to the public and free to view. It is being hosted at the University of Glasgow’s Advanced Research Centre at 11 Chapel Lane (off Church Street) between 16 – 26 January, 10am – 5pm every day except Sundays. Three headsets are available for each viewing.