A vast private sculpture park showcasing work by some of Britain’s leading artists on a country estate near Edinburgh Airport is set to be turned into a new virtual reality experience.
An entire “digital world” inspired by the dozens of works at Jupiter Artland will be available to explore via the hugely-popular video game Minecraft within months.
Painstaking work has been carried out over recent months to digitally map the private collection of Robert and Nicky Wilson, who opened their award-winning attraction on their 100-acre estate seven years ago.
Their Jupiter Artland Foundation charity has joined forces with design experts at Edinburgh Napier University to launch the “digital Lego” version of the attraction.
Maps, photographs, geological studies, a GoPro camera and even a drone were deployed by final-year design student Agnieszka Banach to produce an “immersive digital experience,” which will be launched at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Work by the likes of Antony Gormley, Charles Jencks, Andy Goldsworthy, Nathan Coley, Jim Lambie and Cornelia Parker are being recreated for the venture, expected to help promote the sculpture park around the world.
Minecraft players will also be able to create their own worlds inspired by the real-life art trail which has been created amid the woodland and meadows at the estate.
Pupils from nearby Ratho Primary School, who are among the 10,000 youngsters to visit the attraction every year, have been testing out the “3D facsimile” version of Jupiter Artland in recent months.
It has been developed following previous Jupiter Artland projects with the university’s Centre for Interactive Design to develop an audio guide then an interactive mobile app for visitors to help navigate them around the grounds.
Helena Barrett, education officer at Jupiter Artland, said: “We’re really interested in the digital development side of things here. It can really help to engage with a wider audience, especially younger people who can be harder to reach. Minecraft is hugely popular among children under the age of ten.
“It basically allows them to create their own world from scratch. The children who come here are always asking us if they can use it to build Jupiter Artland, so this is a very exciting project for us.
“When we launch the project it will be able to used in two ways. People can either just go around Jupiter Artland using Minecraft, but there will also be a way to build and continue the work. We will also be creating a video so that people who don’t have Minecraft will be able to get a feel for what Jupiter Artland is all about before they come here.”
Tom Flint, programme leader of the interactive media design course at the university, said: “Jupiter Artland has a mission that every child in Scotland should be able to experience it. The next stage of this project will be to find out whether a Minecraft version of Jupiter Artland is enough of an experience for them to get as much out of as I know they do when they visit.”
Ms Banach said: “The project is about 95 per cent finished at the moment. It’s been endless work to try to recreate the whole feel of Jupiter Artland and being immersed in the countryside there.”