Creating the World’s Largest Virtual Sculpture in Minecraft

Posted on 28 September 2016 by Guest Blogger

The Minecraft Infinity Project is a virtual world where players have come together online, during the course of this year’s Liverpool Biennial, to create a vast sculptural landscape and portrait of the festival. This has been achieved by firing virtual arrows that magically sculpt and paint shapes, whilst searching for 3D sculptures by real artists and freely transforming them in new, creative ways. The team behind the project explain how and why they created it.

Adam Clarke (Wizard Keen) is a Minecraft artist, map maker, teacher and YouTube star. Clarke created the landscape where the Infinity Project takes place, hiding sculptures by real Biennial 2016 artists, such as Oliver Laric, in different places for players to find. He explains:

“We wanted to make a space full of the playfulness of Minecraft, whilst at the same time introducing players to the artworks and themes of this year’s Biennial. The final experience brings together two very different worlds – art and gaming – where players not only discover works of art hidden inside a virtual world familiar to them, but the game-like activities of flying and firing arrows become creative acts in themselves. We hope the project has encouraged gamers to be even more creative in what they do, and to see the playfulness in art.”

Dragnoz created the clever game mechanics, such as arrows that spawn blocks and change colours, using Minecraft's in-game programming language, so that anyone with Minecraft can use them inside the map.

“Art and creativity cannot be contained, it’s in all of us. Before making things in Minecraft, I was a theatre artist. Minecraft allows me to create elaborate three dimensional environments like those I used to create on stage. Because of the infinite space and versatility of Minecraft, the game has enabled me to create experiences I would never have been able to create in the real world.

“When Adam said he wanted to make a world in which players could co-create an infinitely expanding sculpture, the new ‘structure block’ feature in Minecraft 1.10 immediately came to mind. This feature allows players to quickly generate much larger structures out of multiple blocks. I combined it with a mechanic I recently used in an episode of Wonder Quest that allows you to detect individual arrows and run an action (such as generating blocks or changing their colour) when they’re fired.”

Mini Muka is a Minecrafter and YouTube presenter who explores all kinds of Minecraft worlds in videos posted on his YouTube channel. He’s been exploring the Infinity Project’s expanding sculptural landscape, posting videos from inside the map. He told us what he found:

“Whilst making videos about the project, I’ve been amazed at how players of Minecraft always find their own ways of doing things; making up their own rules and objectives. When we started, the landscape was full of individual sculptures to find and transform, but players have also started building their own stuff using the tools we’d given them; connecting the artist sculptures together to form one big cavernous whole, and turning sculptures into a kind of architecture you can explore.”

The Minecraft Infinity Project continues until 16 October. Visit the project page to join in and help expand the creation here.