Tate dips into the world of Minecraft

Minecraft looks and feels like a vintage computer game. The premise and aesthetic are quite basic, as the developers behind it have explained: “[It’s] about breaking and placing blocks.” That is really the gist of it – there is no narrative, no task to complete and no specific challenges to overcome. You simply build to your heart’s content.
Nevertheless, despite its simplicity, it has proved to be strangely compelling. It exudes a Lego-like sensibility whereby you are the ultimate architect, free to assemble whatever logical or fantastical constructs you wish. Launched in 2009, it has grown to be one of the best-selling video games of all time.
Tate has felt enthused by it all, which perhaps sounds a lot stranger than it really is. It has been working closely with Minecraft to develop virtual environments that are inspired by works of art from its collection. The experience is very surreal but, like the game itself, weirdly gripping.
Users are able to download Tate Worlds, which are described as interactive ‘maps’ that present you with the option of discovering a whole host of paintings and sculpture in a cubist style. That presents an interesting proposition, for how then do you represent a deconstructed work by a cubist? It’s a fascinating thought.
Gamers are also able to partake in some challenges and activities that are designed around some of the themes present in works of art. You can even learn about the creativity behind some of the most interesting works ever made.
Two cities are currently available to download: The Pool of London and Soul of the Soulless City. The former allows you to explore the Thames, just as Andre Derain did in 1906, while the latter is based around Christopher Nevinson’s abstract masterpiece from 1920.
The effect is disorientating and wildly imaginative. It goes beyond what both artists envisaged, and rightly or wrongly comes up with an unusual take on everything that lies behind the surface of the works. It works because it takes place in a virtual environment where you are at liberty to explore other possibilities.
This is just the start of it, as Tate has announced that six more maps are scheduled to appear in 2015. Four have been allocated spots and will be inspired by John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, (1885-6); Peter Blake’s The Toy Shop (1962); John Martin’s The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1822); and Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991).
“Visitors will see a white cube which represents the Tate Gallery,” Jane Burton, creative director of Tate Media, told the BBC. “You walk through the door with the painting in front of you. What you can do now is walk right up to the painting, and literally into it, you jump into it, and that’s where your adventure begins.”
Cadogan Tate has extensive experience in shipping fine art all over the world.