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Art and technology combine for new Minecraft residency at Mackenzie Art Gallery

A screenshot shows a Minecraft player at work building a digital world. File

An immensely popular video game will be the vehicle for the creation of a new exhibit co-hosted by Regina’s Mackenzie Art Gallery.

The Mackenzie is partnering with Ender Gallery, an online exhibition space based on a Minecraft server, to exhibit artworks created within the creative, sandbox-style video game.

“So many arts and cultural events have had to find their online forms last year and this year. So I suppose this is an attempt to do that in a way that we haven’t really seen,” said Sarah Friend, artist and co-curator of Ender Gallery (“Ender” is the name of one of Minecraft’s digital realms).

“It’s fun, new and crosses different creative communities.”

Read more: City of Kelowna replicates city in Minecraft virtual world

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Friend says the residency will be the first project hosted on Ender Gallery. Via Zoom

Friend, who is also a software engineer and is based in Berlin, approached her friends Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll with an idea to create a virtual art space last year.

Bluemke is the digital operations co-ordinator at the Mackenzie and Carroll is the digital programs coordinator.

“In talking with them the idea got fleshed out and turned into its current form in partnership with the Mackenzie,” Friend explained.

The first of four planned two-month residencies are scheduled to begin in March.

Anyone with a Minecraft account will be able to log into Ender Gallery to view the art pieces. Friend said discussions are ongoing about finding a way to display the art somewhere within the Mackenzie itself, and added that the Ender Gallery team is planning to document the exhibitions via video as well.

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“Though Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, it’s not something that everyone has access to,” Friend said. “So we want this to be available to the widest audience possible.”

Read more: Welcome to Twitch U: Pandemic has some profs streaming lectures on gaming platform

The Mackenzie Art Gallery hired Digital Coordinators Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll in 2019 to lead the creation of a Digital Lab and collaborative digital arts training initiative at the gallery. File / Global News

Applications for the residencies are being accepted until the end-of-day on Jan. 31.

Applicants will need to select their preferred residency period, a written proposal and a portfolio, among other things, but don’t need to be experienced artists or have extensive experience with Minecraft to apply.

Each artist will be paid a $1,600 fee.

“Proposals are already coming in. Some of them look like buildings, filled with different creations, that someone on the server can see and walkthrough. Other proposals are creations that tell a story as you view them,” Friend said.

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“We even have proposals that would be something not built on the server, but installed on the server. Minecraft has a modding community where people create new game functionality within Minecraft, or new skins so that it looks like a different game.”

Friend said the residency follows a growing trend of projects highlighting the artistic potential of video games.

“I think we’ve only begun to see the amount of creative content that will come from that intersection.”