Interactive computer based installation; wood, glass, solenoid locks, micro-switches



Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), MIT


This instantiation of a physical labyrinth was motivated by an interest in the definition of paths, pattern, and networks. This interest leads to the comparison between sequential composition and random access composition. The exploration of nonlinear composition is a primary motivation in the design and the construction of a computer controlled labyrinth. The opposition between the romantic and classical (Rubenistes and Poussinistes) representation of space and treatment of light in Western painting is examined. The rational articulation of space is contrasted to the indefinite, 'irrational' depiction: the comprehensible with the incomprehensible.

The way in which the eye traces a composition in painting is compared to the path a stroller might take across a real landscape. The problem is the same for the graphic artist, the architect and the composer: how to break up space and time in order to maximize the interest in and the comprehension of the layout, environment or composition . The nature of this perception is explored in examples taken from graphic design, architecture, painting, urban landscaping, the networks of the Sewers of Paris, the catacombs, the configuration of paths and walkways, modular design and the role of change and variation such as the Chinese Garden in generating intrinsic interest in each.

This interest in variation is shown to be an essential part of learning and play. In literature the metaphor of the labyrinth again contrasts the opposition between the rational and the irrational. Forms in nature, mathematical proportion and series, Artificial Intelligence, maze solving and generating algorithms are sources for design for a computer controlled labyrinth.

Labyrinthos was a computer controlled labyrinth installed at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1983.