The Labyrinth Effect Installations, Metaverse Art Week 2022

Vueltta Metaverse Art Collective

In June 2022, Bay Backner and Adrián Martínez co-founded Vueltta, an international art collective to create immersive experiences in the metaverse. Vueltta’s aim is to use art installation and interactive technologies to explore how shared virtual experience will shape society and identity.

Vueltta was invited to launch their first installation at Metaverse Art Week 2022, opening in the Decentraland metaverse on 24th August 2022. They created a series of major installations and events called “The Labyrinth Effect”, held in two Decentraland locations – Edifice Metaversal [2, -39] and the new Vueltta gallery in Indie Village [95, 27].

The installations were recommended by ParcelNFT as their top pick from Metaverse Art Week 2022.

pyramid labyrinth vueltta metaverse art installation
Inside one of The Labyrinth Effect installations at Edifice Metaversal

The Labyrinth Effect installations in Decentraland

First coined by researcher Dr. John Rhodes in 2006, ‘The Labyrinth Effect’ describes the states of mind evoked by walking a labyrinth. According to Rhodes, labyrinths create liminal spaces which promote ‘flashes of intuition, insight and openness’. 

Vueltta’s installation The Labyrinth Effect sought to bring this liminal experience into the metaverse.

‘Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more.  They evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage… and community building’
– The Labyrinth Society

Vueltta art gallery Decentraland

The Tower Labyrinth & The Pyramid Labyrinths

The Labyrinth Effect lauched with two installations in two Decentraland locations: The Tower Labyrinth, a three story modernist installation within the new Vueltta gallery space, Indie Village; and The Pyramid Labyrinths, six individual pyramids located throughout Edifice Metaversal, a seven-story, 39 parcel development.

Both installations intentionally ‘celebrated’, rather than attept to conceal, the low-polygon design restrictions of Decentraland. Bay and Adrián intended The Labyrinth Effect to be ‘other’ – disconcerting and unreal – while evoking ‘metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage’ within digital environments.

Ancient designs meet metaverse architecture

Throughout the Labyrinth Effect, Vueltta aimed to blend ancient archetypes and early cultural references with the latest in artificial intelligence and metaverse installation.

The design of the labyrinths is based on a coin from 400 BC, found in the ancient city of Knossos, Greece. This shows a square labyrinth pattern thought to represent the labyrinth of the Minotaur – a myth which originated in Knossos.

The labyrinths’ outer architectures were designed by Adrián Martínez to reference contemporary modernist works such as The Headquarters of the French Communist Party by Oscar Niemeyer and sculpture by Richard Serra and Rachel Whiteread.

Pyramid Labyrinth art installations in the Decentraland metaverse

AI installations to connect with current social concerns

The artworks and soundscapes inside the labyrinths were created by Bay Backner in collaboration with artificial intelligence. Bay worked into AI outputs from Midjourney (a text to image algorithm) and AIVA (a generative music composer) to design the nine different environments.

‘We used AI to connect ancient references with current social concerns,’ explains Bay. ‘References include early cuneiform writing and political movements such as the 2021 post-Covid protests in modern Greece.’

Recordings of the soundscapes of the Stripe and Gold Pyramid Labyrinths were given to labyrinth visitors as special NFTs on the Polygon blockchain.

Decentraland community reaction to the art installations

The Labyrinth Effect was supported by the Decentraland DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), the community governance body for the Decentraland metaverse. Vueltta was awarded a DAO grant to build the installations and to share them at NFT Show Europe 2022, billed as the biggest NFT and blockchain event in Europe. (You can see Bay’s NFT Show Europe presentation here.)

It was therefore especially important that the installations included community activations and participation. Bay led guided tours throughout Metaverse Art Weeek, and hosted a ‘flash mob’ photography session in the pyramids – images from which she used to talk about the importance of community in her presentation at NFT Show Europe.

Community members were also encouraged to share selfies of their avatars within the installations. This led to further ideas around the interplay between the metaverse ‘self’, its environment and the artistic nature/ownership of the resulting images. Bay intends to develop these ideas further through future installations.

Photo: Jason Summers
Photo: Jason Summers
Photo: @iamfity
/Photo: RoustanNFT

The Labyrinth Effect’s Decentraland locations

The Tower Labyrinth
Located in Vueltta gallery, Indie Village.

Indie Village is a 20-acre master-planned virtual development that aims to become the premier cultural destination of the metaverse, where music, art and fashion collide.  Indie Village will bring real-world venues to life in Decentraland and will be activated on a nightly basis with live concerts, art galleries, comedy clubs, fashion shows, social clubs and numerous other immersive virtual experiences.  With a special mission to support women and the arts, Indie Village is currently hosting ‘Infinite Objects presents Women of the World’, an exhibition showcasing the art of 130 female artists from all over the globe.
Indie Village: [100, 30]
Vueltta Gallery: [95, 27]

With thanks to Bill Burns, KJ Walker and Low Poly Models World.

The Pyramid Labyrinths
Located in Edifice Metaversal

Edifice Metaversal is a 43 parcel estate created by NFT photobook pioneer G.S. Broz and Berlin-based design studio metaplazas.com. It was recently awarded a runner-up prize for architecture in Renovi’s Next Top Metaverse Build and was featured on Polygonal Mind’s MetaTrip #40. Inspired by IRL superstructures like Berlin’s ICC and Singapore’s PARKROYAL on Pickering, the estate is proud to be home to the metaverse’s first paternoster lift.

Now moving beyond the initial build, Edifice Metaversal aims to become a noteworthy hub of digital culture. The team is currently cultivating partnerships with tech-savvy art collectives like Vueltta in order to curate the best in boundary pushing SDK-based art. Vueltta’s six Pyramid Labyrinths are installed throughout the estate, with three on the sweeping roof terrace.
[2, -39]

With thanks to G.S. Broz, metaplazas.com, Dacritter and Dax.
Follow @EdificeMeta.