MCraft Escher

'Relativity' gets a mind-bending Minecraft makeover

Have you ever looked at a picture that makes your brain just wanna give up? Chances are you were looking at a visual illusion, an image that plays with our mind’s perception of reality. And one of the most famous visual illusion artists of them all was MC Escher.

You may not have heard that name before, but you’ve definitely seen his work. MC Escher is responsible for some of the most iconic and eye breaking illusions. Stuff that makes you stare for hours navigating the twists and turns of his art until you end up right where you started. Ever seen a picture of people on a circular staircase? Everybody’s walking upstairs but nobody seems to be getting any higher. That’s Escher work. His visual art puzzles make appearances in everything from movies, to anime, to video games.

And now, thanks to the phenomenal talent of S_pinney and H2CO3, Escher’s work has come to Minecraft in all of it’s blocky, mind-bendy glory. If you’re looking at these images going what? huh? How did they do this? - don’t worry! We’ve got some answers for you straight from the builders themselves.

S_pinney and H2CO3  (or Carbonic Acid for you chemistry lovers out there) are German university students that like to spend their free time building in Minecraft. S_pinney found Minecraft through a friend and H2CO3 stumbled upon the game by accident.

“We both enjoy organic and oversized building the most,” s_pinney says, when we ask what they liked most about playing Minecraft. “Especially the creative aspect. The coloring and forming stuff.”

“This painting seemed, as we saw it, a 2D picture, impossible to recreate in 3D Minecraft. That’s probably why we chose to try it.”

When they’re not melting our eyeballs with their fantastic build of Escher's famous Relativity work, they like to tinker with redstone contraptions and command block builds.

It’s one thing to create powered rails with redstone and write simple code with command blocks, but it’s another thing entirely to recreate visual illusions from scratch.

“When we build stuff, we are often searching for cool images,” explains S_pinney. “And because we are getting more and more into abstract, modern art, we stumbled across MC Escher. This painting seemed, as we saw it, a 2D picture, impossible to recreate in 3D Minecraft. That’s probably why we chose to try it.”

Attraction to the impossible worked for these two, expertly recreating Escher’s illusion in the Minecraft we know and love. But it took a lot of work to make this look good, and the difficulties weren’t what you’d expect.

“By far the most challenging thing about this project was the coloring of the walls," says S_pinney. "It was a lot of trial and error. They shouldn’t be too noisy, but also not too pale. Getting horizontal textures in it was extraordinarily difficult because the walls aren’t going along one axis, but in every direction."

In the end, they managed to overcome their painting issues by working together as a team. “When we start a project, we both have stuff we are more comfortable with than the other,” explains S_pinney. “I lay out the walls, putting in the stairs and railings while H2CO3 works on the humans.”

So S_pinney builds the space, and H2CO3 builds the people. But they haven’t finished with their phenomenal builds or their trippy, mind blowing themes. When we asked what’s next, S_pinney had this to say:

“We’ve wanted to create an animation in Minecraft for a long time. We found a stunning video that shows an alchemist machine burning the memories of its creator to convert metal into gold. The pictures, idea, and execution were so crazy cool that we are trying to create something similar in the future. But we know it’s going to be a real challenge.”

I bet after seeing what they’re capable of, you’re looking forward to seeing them overcome this challenge too. And if you’re interested in building your own illusions?

“Working together with a friend makes it so much easier to stay focused on a project,” S_pinney advises. “You can teach each other stuff and also complement each other. Join a team where you feel most comfortable with the members. Minecraft can be a great place to find new friends and to (re)create great art.”

Image renders by @CuddlyM_H, @AronSp_, @Imhotep05, @ahlucaa, @Hobmaasand @MrBatou