An agoraphobic, claustrophobic, anal retentive, pretentious liberal arts grad student’s venture into Minecraft

Lest you think I was sitting on my laurels with no ROUSes to write, I’d like to show off what I’ve been doing as part of my final project in my Survey of Interactive Media class. Because more classes should involve projects in Minecraft.

Here’s a view of my little estate from a near hill. The height of the tower has more to do with being able to mark it out at a distance than for functional or aesthetic purposes, but I quite like how my little floating garden is coming along further up. To the right is my actual class project.

This block was placed here by an Enderman. (For those who don’t know what that is, yes, they are based on Slenderman, and they are horrifically scary.) I removed it the first time and an Enderman keeps coming back to replace it, so I just accepted it as a weird, creepy gift.

I’ve never endured the particular stigma of living in my parents’ basement, so I decided I’d live in a basement bachelor pad in the virtual world. It’s actually quite comfy.

Of course, it’s hard to make anything look pretty in Minecraft. This was one solution I came up with: recessed paintings. Creates a nice shadow box look.

Decorative flowers are another thing that requires a kind of ass-backwards interior decoration approach. But my middle name is Rose, so damn it, I want one for my room.

Every girl needs her own indoor incinerator. What you can’t see is that I’ve blocked it off with a fence gate, just in case the chickens get in.

“…Chickens?”

I took my agoraphobia into the digital with me and decided creating a subterranean passage to my animal pen was easier than braving night time monsters.

And there they are. Glassed in. Erm… it’s more spacious than it looks. Still feels kinda cruel, though. I’ll probably expand it.

Store room. EVERYTHING LABELED! GLORIOUSLY GLORIOUSLY LABELED! And two furnaces. IN CASE I CAN’T FURNACE FAST ENOUGH.

No, I don’t go outside to reach my mine shafts either.

…Or to farm.

Enough of my living and working arrangements. Here is the installation space, which only officially opened today.

The structure is mainly glass (blocks and panes) with a sandstone base. It faces west, so that it catches the sunrise very dramatically.

Glass is one of the few substances in Minecraft which is permanently destroyed upon being hit. So it was ideal to work with for an installation that was actually about undoing the creator’s work.

After nearly two straight years working for a kids’ MMO, I have a good sense of how important “DON’T DESTROY MY STUFF” is to participants in a sandbox. You put a lot of time and resources into creating large structures and it’s all too easy for someone else to hit the wrong button. So I wanted to directly challenge that, especially after a friend told me about the minimalist installations of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Gonzalez-Torres would do things like create piles of crumpled paper and wrapped candy, asking visitors to take a part of the pile away with them. In the process of which (hence, process art), the phenomena of undoing the installation was, itself, the art.

While the minimalist design of Gonzalez-Torres’s works (look them up on the googles) are underscored by big and emotional ideas, mine is a little more direct: all this digital stuff isn’t stuff, and it takes absolutely no effort (or reason) at all to blink out of existence.

A chest full of wooden pickaxes by the entrance lets visitors destroy in style.

The first layer above the sandstone and much of the core structure are glass blocks. Over and through them are laid glass panes to give it a more chaotic look. If I had to guess I’d say at least 300 blocks of glass went into the construction.

Behind the installation are rows of sugar cane and torches (to illuminate the space at night and create a more colorful backdrop, without resorting to icky dyed wool solutions).

In all, it’s a pretty simple design. Common materials, no moving parts. But I’m happy with the thing’s look and function so I’m hoping I can encourage classmates to go pay a visit.

It’s also basically my only reason to go outside, apart from trying to find a cow to lure back to my nefarious underground animal pen of dubious ethical standards. No luck on that one so far.

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  • By Super.licio.us | Superlevel on 11.24.11 at 5:11 am

    [...] An agoraphobic, claustrophobic, anal retentive, pretentious liberal arts grad student’s ventur… games minecraft [...]

  • [...] « An agoraphobic, claustrophobic, anal retentive, pretentious liberal arts grad student’s ventur… [...]

  • By The Map and the Territory « Dire Critic on 12.01.11 at 7:04 am

    [...] played consciously with this in an art installation in the USC interactive server for Minecraft. I’ve blogged a bit about this previously, but I wanted to take this opportunity to go into further detail about its aesthetic inspirations [...]

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