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Ender Gallery curators Sarah Friend, Cat Bluemke, and Jonathan Carroll close their Minecraft artist residency and exhibition space with a gift: the Ender Gallery Resource Pack Pack contains all the custom assets the four residents, Cat Haines, Simon M. Benedict, Huidi Xiang, and Travess Smalley, created inside the game. “The ‘end’ of Ender is self-imposed,” the curators write in a reflective essay. “As long as the world’s most popular game continues to be supported, the artist’s projects could continue to grow.”

“The role of the digital exhibition is not to imitate its physical counterpart. Digital art and its exhibitions exist to examine the affordances of their endemic space.”
Ender Gallery curators Sarah Friend, Cat Bluemke, and Jonathan Carroll, reflecting on experimenting with digitally native exhibition spaces. Throughout 2021, Ender Gallery hosted four artist residents, Cat Haines, Simon M. Benedict, Huidi Xiang, and Travess Smalley, to make art on a dedicated Minecraft server.
“NFTs create digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together. They create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots.”
Minecraft developer Mojang Studios, announcing their NFT policy for the massively popular online videogame. They argue that “the speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.”

Infiltrating Ender Gallery’s Minecraft server with his generative image systems, American artist Travess Smalley turns the in-game exhibition space into “a surreal reading experience” via a custom texture pack. Developed during his residency, “Change Language Resource Pack” replaces all images and textures with randomly generated language, resulting in “a concrete poem, that turns the familiar Minecraft world into an abstract, austere, and newly dangerous place (be careful identifying lava!).”

Extending out of Oli Sorenson’s visual cataloguing of the technological artifacts and compromised landscapes of our current era, “Diamond edition: Panorama of the Anthropocene” opens at Montréal’s ELEKTRA Gallery. For the show, Sorenson adapts material from the his ongoing painting and inkjet series about the perennial clash between production and nature (image: Oil extraction detail, 2020) rendered in the style of “Minecraft’s landscapes and Peter Halley’s geometries,” and (re)presents it on angled digital displays.

Huidi Xiang’s “How to Be an Artist in Minecraft” opens at Ender Gallery. A sculptor who became obsessed with the routine (and implicit labour) of Animal Crossing during the pandemic, Xiang’s Ender residency culminates with the presentation of a spreadsheet of every act she performed in Minecraft over a three-month period. Building construction, skin customization, tutorial creation, every minute of her residency—and for those that can’t visit in-game, note the complete log on the artist’s website.


Showcasing a series of pen plotter drawings, Travess Smalley’s “Pixel Rugs” opens at Arcade on Stadium in Provo, Utah. Produced in Photoshop and then output to a plotter armed with a black ballpoint pen (imperfectly) printing to cream cardstock, Smalley, a self-described maker of “generative image systems,” frames the resulting dense hypnotic grids of orthogonal blotches, arrhythmic jazzy tile forms, and amorphous diamonds seemingly melting into one another as “like a punch card weaving … like a game asset … like a rug in my Minecraft house.”

Combining photography, poetry, and monumental pixel builds, Ender Gallery’s inaugural resident Cat Haine opens the Minecraft exhibition space with a “playful transfeminist intervention.” Exploring the platform’s potential for queer and trans intimacies, Haine’s “(g)Ender Gallery” features a colossal reconstruction of the artist’s surgically-constructed vagina that contains text and images reflecting upon her transition.

An output of this year’s entirely online edition of Rewire festival (NL), Instance Terrain Crawler launches. A browser-based offshoot of MSHR’s (Birch Cooper & Brenna Murphy) “sculptural electronic systems,” its wonky 3D environs are both explorable and interactive. Full of blocky totemic forms—objects and waveforms oscillate in unison—its loud polychromy and gloppy synthesized sounds evoke a demented Minecraft world, the likes of which could only emerge from the Pacific Northwest.

“It really started as a joke… I didn’t understand the game mechanics and how realistic the in-game lava and fire were, so my house burned down.”
– Jorge Juan B. Wieneke V (aka similar objects), on the 2019 origins of Club Matryoshka, a Minecraft-hosted “home for underground and unorthodox music mutants” run by Manila-based musicians that blossomed during the pandemic
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