Sjoerd Mol

Digital Specimens

At the beginning of the 19th century, humankind started collecting specimens that now help us to better understand the evolution of our planet. Samples of rocks, plants and organisms were brought back from historic ‘voyages of discovery. These collections, which give us a lens through which to learn about our histories, are now stored away in museums and archives. 


Five years ago, a new kind of geological survey emerged. Highly skilled 3D artists, scouted by Quixel, began traveling the world to capture specimens as three-dimensional objects. This has resulted in the largest collection of objects, plants, rocks, and textures, which are often used in-game environments and film scenes. This collection exists only digitally, stored on servers, and copied millions of times by users of the real-time 3D creation tool Unreal Engine.


Digital Specimens is an installation that contains 63 of the most diverse sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. Every rock, or ‘asset’ as digital artists call them, is embedded within one physical object, emphasizing the uniqueness of a specimen that was translated from the physical to the digital realm.


Made with Unreal Engine and Quixel.