Explore a virtual sculpture park in Minecraft with Jupiter Artland’s open source digital playground

The acclaimed Scottish arts festival takes to the digital realm with a little help from Edinburgh Napier University to reimagine the vast landscape in Minecraft.

24 April 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

Want to know what Antony Gormley’s work looks like on Minecraft? Well now you can. On 20 April 2020, the acclaimed Scottish arts festival Jupiter Artland took a unique approach to lockdown, launching a virtual sculpture park in Minecraft. The open source platform allows young people to visit and explore the wonders of virtual art through block upon block of lego-like fun, and so far, has played host to virtual Easter egg hunts, not to mention a multitude of young peoples’ imaginations.

Partnered with Edinburgh Napier University, the festival worked closely with Dr Tom Flint and Agnieszka Banach to replicate the vast grounds of Jupiter Artland in Minecraft. Then opening up the park as an open-source game, the festival is inviting anyone and everyone to “explore, collaborate and create” in the platform. “Jupiter Artland is a garden for ideas,” Claire Feeley, head of exhibitions tells It’s Nice That. “It’s a protected yet open space for new ways of thinking, making and doing sculpture.”

Over the years, the festival has asked one simple thing of its contributing artists: to produce their best work. And now extending the call out to isolating individuals all over the world, it’s continuing to promote this message, just with a special Minecraft-twist. The team has taken this digital opportunity to work particularly close with primary schools across Scotland. From Ratho to Orkney, together, professionals and budding creatives still at school create the mixed reality game collaboratively.

One student who has fully embraced the digital medium created a rainbow-coloured tower in the game in homage to the NHS, the three capital letters standing proudly above the sunny green hills of virtual Jupiter Artland. Others have proposed impossible buildings, carved buildings in the shape of bunny rabbits, daffodils and much much more. There is also a “design a sculpture” competition amidst the myriad of other activities available on the platform.

Even if you don’t have the game, it’s possible to take part as the festival is accepting proposals from the public which can then be built into the game. Dr Tom Flint adds on the creation of the new site, “Here at the Centre of Interaction Design at Edinburgh Napier Univiersity, we’re interested in the study of blended spaces which is where the physical and digital are tightly aligned.” For Tom and his team, the project provided an apt opportunity to explore this overlap – playing with the possibilities across these multiple realities.

Accurately translating highly detailed sculptures into Minecraft was no mean feat for the team of digital designers. As the program doesn’t allow for many intricacies (as you can only build in blocks) the challenge called for further creative interpretation, another exciting aspect of the project. With the artist Laura Ford’s life size bronze sculpture Weeping Girls for instance, the team reimagined it on another dimension, towering above the canopy of trees. “For me,” continues Claire, “this is a successfully translation of the work. It retains the emotional impact of the original artwork, while taking advantage of what’s possible in a digital landscape that wouldn’t otherwise in the real world. Jupiter Artland in Minecraft is full of these kinds of surprises, if you can find them!”

GalleryJupiter Artland

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.


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