Part of The Labyrinth Effect installations I produced for Metaverse Art Week 2022, working with designer Adrián Martínez as the art collective Vueltta. The installations were deployed in the Decentraland metaverse in August 2022.
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’.
Through our Vueltta labyrinths we 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
Visit our Vueltta page on The Labyrinth Effect
We created two separately located installations for The Labyrinth Effect: the Tower Labyrinth, a three-story high tower within a New York style gallery building in Decentraland’s Indie Village complex, and The Pyramid Labyrinths, six individual pyramids installed across the Edifice Metaversal building.
We based our designs 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.
While Adrián created the 3D architecture, I created the immersive artworks and soundscapes inside the labyrinths. For the visual environments I worked into AI outputs from Midjourney (a text to image algorithm which was new at the time), and created textures to amplify the sense of dislocation within the 3D spaces. The textures progressively changed throughout the labyrinthine paths, drawing to a climax at the open chambers in the centre of each installation.
For the soundscapes I worked with AIVA (a generative music composer) to design nine different tracks, then edited in soundsamples to mix ancient references with current social concerns.
We chose to celebrate rather than conceal the low-polygon restrictions of Decentraland. Our intention was that The Labyrinth Effect should be ‘other’ – disconcerting and unreal – while evoking ‘metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage’ within its digital walls.
For The Tower Labyrinth, we worked with 3D artist KJ Walker and her team at Low Poly Models World to create a gallery building for the tower. KJ was already designing the Indie Village complex for metaverse developer Bill Burns, so we worked with them both to repurpose one of KJ’s SoHo style virtual buildings.
On the roof of The Tower we included a gaming element – a selfie wall which Decentralites could share on completing the labyrinths. This supported interaction between labyrinth-goers and the Vueltta artists via Twitter.
To thank everyone who had shared and supported the installation, I minted the soundscapes as Polygon NFTs and we airdropped these to our community.