A Matter Of Life And Death

Dr_Bond contemplates life’s mysteries in his colourful creations

When Dr_Bond’s friend told him of a game where he could punch out stone with a porkchop, he was immediately intrigued. Now, six years later, he’s making some of the most atmospheric Minecraft builds around. Must be taking him ages with just a pork chop though. Should we tell him about pickaxes or…?

Beyond his unconventional use of food, Dr_Bond is a bit of a maverick in other ways, too. Especially when it comes to how he plans his builds.

“I like to think up a name for the project first,” Dr_Bond tells me. “Then I make whatever comes to mind when thinking of those words. It's a process that's helped me focus on specific goals for the piece, rather than mindlessly testing different shapes and colours.”

This probably lends to the unique style of his work, which often focuses on life and death as the foremost themes. Dr_Bond explains that, “art, to me, is about bringing someone into your world and displaying your imagination to them. Something that intrigues me has always been provoking topics within art, and death is one of them.”

What’s more, he introduces these themes in a nuanced way, exploring with symbolism and trying to demonstrate more than one perspective. He explains it like a yin and yang relationship; “In a lot of the builds that incorporate life and death, it is my way of representing a cycle which all natural forms follow. Whether it’s an animal dying and giving its nutrients back to the soil, or the path of death making way for new life to grow, it always provokes some thought.”

Dr_Bond experiments with the colour spectrum, too, using it to illuminate his ideas. “I feel very often that the colours corresponding to their respective concepts also end up being quite the opposite, which makes for a very interesting end product,” he says.

“I feel as though many people have a vision of what Minecraft builds [should] look like and so I always aim to show them something different. I also believe death does not always have to be interpreted in a dark way or as a resolution, which is why for my project Flower;Corpse, I added flowers blooming along the bones as a sign of revitalisation.”

This is what I really enjoy about Dr_Bond’s builds. He tackles deep, affecting subjects in a thoughtful way. When he takes on death, he does so without the normal connotations of sadness and depression. Though the undertones are sometimes dark or sad, often there is a light side to each piece, literally represented with bright colours. “I really like putting contrast in my builds,” Dr_Bond tells me, “I feel it can add to the atmosphere and storytelling.”

Though it looks like a simple design choice, Dr_Bond explains the difficult process of getting the build in perspective and trying not to fixate on too many things at once. “It’s an important part of a balanced build,” he tells me. “ [It might] seem simple, but when building you can get carried away. There’s a lot of calculation with colour theory and the concentration of certain blocks, but the biggest process I go through when balancing out contrast is just simple trial and error, testing and making small adjustments. You won’t know how it looks until you make the physical changes.”

Regardless, the most important part, for Dr_Bond at least, is to say something with the art you craft. “I always try to put meaning behind each project,” he says. “It really helps the player connect with the piece. A lot of the time the meanings derive from [my own] experiences, or [what’s] been brewing in my mind for a long time. I feel this is the element that can push a Minecraft build to [be] something greater.”

Take his latest work, the Perfect Marionette. Dr_Bond started this build for a contest with the theme ‘Human Achievement’. With this, he saw an opportunity to show how perfection is an element of achievement, and he used Rococo culture as an inspiration for the style of the piece.

For his Yokai Synthesis build, Dr_Bond was inspired by Japanese folklore. “I myself am from a Japanese background,” he explains, “so it was more of a personal look into my culture than anything else. I wanted to bring something authentic from Japanese lore that most people would not have known of, and Yokai Synthesis was the result of that.”

He continues, saying, “there is a distinct feel in many builds that are culturally based, and I think it's a great thing. It’s become an environment for others to display their origins and influences. Japanese architecture has a very unique look, as it has come under a lot of change from its Chinese counterpart. There is a great number of ways to use its concepts and designs, thus making it an interesting theme to execute and present.”

Dr_Bond has grown into an experienced builder with many works under his belt. He’s created builds that represent his own culture, consider the perils of human ambition, and explore the mysteries of life and death. He’s built creatures in motion and still life skeletons that bloom with new life. When he’s tackling such challenges, is there anything left to surprise him?

“For me, personally, when I look at another build my attention goes straight to what kind of technique was utilised, [and] if it has any provoking elements that stray from the usual content. I’ve seen many builds throughout the years, so I’m always looking for something refreshing, both in concept and technique.”

He continues, “I’m a huge advocate for people trying to do new things with builds, even if it may seem silly at first.”

Still, experience and approach always help a build to stand out from the crowd. “I think balance plays an important role. Knowing just the right amount of something to add really helps the composition of a build. It also tells me that the creator understands the style he or she is working with.”

I can’t wait to see what Dr_Bond conjures next, and what themes and ideas his next build will consider. Whatever it is, it’s sure to be beautiful, contemplative and thought-provoking. Like watching someone mine cobblestone with nothing more than a pork chop...

Renders by Joebricksy, somedaftmonkey, kryppt and kryiin.

Written By
Emily Richardson