Jupiter Artland and Edinburgh Napier University, decided to take Jupiter Artland on the road with a project exploring what a school child’s experience of Jupiter Artland could look like back at school.
For the past few years Jupiter Artland and Edinburgh Napier University have been investigating the impact of contemporary art and digital technologies, such as Minecraft, on positive learning journeys and comparing ‘real life learning’ versus digital experiences. Taking Jupiter off road we first visited two West Lothian schools, Bridgend Primary School and Knightsridge Primary School before eventually driving all the way Orkney to be welcomed by Stromness Primary.
Who could have imagined a sculpture park could go on tour?
How we achieved this ambitious feat of touring an entire Arltand was through the means of Minecraft; which was created by a medley of ENU creative computing undergraduates and resulted in a shared sever whereby all schools could visit the virtual Artland and see what the other schools might have created.
Comparing the experiences of three different schools and how they interact with Jupiter Artland, real or virtual, was at the heart of this project. This combination of contemporary art and minecraft, opened up innovative ways of us offering every child in Scotland the chance to experience Jupiter Artland. The activities we created for this project included an art evaluation game, whereby the students became art critics and evaluated ‘good art’; tours of both the physical (when possible) and the virtual Jupiter Artland and it culminated in all three schools proposing and building their own sculptures for Jupiter Artland in Minecraft.
The benefits of using Minecraft as a learning tool are innumerable. It is known to create positive and authentic learning experiences, to enhance communication and problem solving abilities. It introduces coding and programming and, in our instance, digital technologies in parallel with contemporary art resulted in really exciting experiences for all children (and adults) involved.
The tours of both the physical and virtual followed a similar format: each class was met by the Jupiter Artland team, at a central point, and together looked at the paper map to decide on what sculptures to visit and discuss. For those in the virtual Jupiter one could fly to their chosen sculpture having used the Jupiter paper map as a visual to aid navigate their way, placing themselves in both ‘real’ and digital world of Jupiter Artland. Tours on foot/ in person of the 100-acre landscape here at Jupiter Artland are unique but this digital experience allowed us to enjoy new perspectives and means of interacting with the Artland- where one could even sit on top of Lovebomb!
The students of Stromness had one of the most exciting experiences of the Artland as being the only school that were unable to visit Jupiter Artland in person meant that their imaginations were the only limit of their interpretations of the Jupiter collection and this was well reflected in their final display of virtual sculptures.
Games and projects such as this allow us to start conversations about a topic that is not at the fore of the curriculum – all over the UK and Ireland there are fewer students taking creative arts subjects. Early introduction to art activities and project based learning encourages students to steer their own learning process, navigating as they did around Jupiter, making critical and creative decisions. All the while playing a game and having fun.