Digital Archeology of Virtual Ruins

Jamilya Kulambayeva


We dream about ruins and ruins dream about us. We haunt each other with our absence as we yearn to reconnect. The abandoned spaces, broken tools and dusting artefacts arouse our curiosity of the unknown and seduce us into reintroducing them back into the world of the living. Despite that earning, the materiality and time will constantly change, evolve and dissolve our union. Yet, a new type of ruins and artefacts emerged from behind the computer screen.

Video Games are a paradigmatic new medium, that offer experiences and pleasures based on the interactive and immersive possibilities of the computer technologies that connect users and players around the globe in one shared online space. When compared to simple online browsing, video games have completely changed our dynamic with visual mediums from being simple observers to active participants that can influence and change the surrounding environment; making each video game a dynamic environment within which the players can lose themselves to and achieve the disembodied experience and Minecraft’s procedurally generated worlds have become the focal point of these new interactions.

The Minecraft’s oldest anarchy server - 2b2t in the last 9 years has become a cradle for hundreds of architectural structures created by its players. However, inevitable clashes between players and griefers allowed the collections' pixelated cubes to evolve into virtual ruins that are untouched by real-time or decay; left as immovable monuments behind computer screens to excavate as historical artefacts of childhood imagination and digital play.

I dream about those ruins and they dream about me. As a part of a generation that was raised on Minecraft and its YouTube content, those ruins become my digital heritage. Abandoned game items and building blocks arose my curiosity for their lost stories and I wish to celebrate them by rediscovering and presenting them as real heritage sites that were once populated by players.

The Digital Archeology of Virtual Plane is a growing archive of these builds and artefacts in order to record this history using archeological methodologies of recorded observations, drawings, remote sensing maps and interviews with the 2b2t player community.

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