Age-Old Tradition of Labyrinth Resurfaces

h & i, student artists, are collaborating on LAMNISCAPE: an interactive project involving a labyrinth constructed out of seven-inch obsidian volcanic rocks. The Grail spoke to them under the Blue Bridge, in the rain. 

TG: What is your project? I hear you’re planning on doing some exciting things with volcanic rocks? 

h: LAMNISCAPE is a Cretan labyrinth on a wooden floor that is set up with contact microphones so that as you go through the labyrinth — which has one way in, to one center, and one way back — as you walk along, vibrations from your footsteps will be picked up by the contact mikes and amplified through speakers in each corner of the room, so every person as they go through — depending on the way they go through — will create a unique soundpiece that accompanies the trajectory. 

TG: So how does LAMNISCAPE reflect the RAW theme? 

h: We interpreted the theme — or I did, at least – as meaning a kind of medium. Something that helps you concentrate. 

i: But also, it’s funny, because the Cretan labyrinth just projects you through — it’s got one way in, and one way out. There’s really no freedom to do anything there. What I’m thinking of is a choreography, a ritual thing in one context but meditative in another. And it seems funny to be so strict about how you move through it, but we were interpreting the sound accompanying it — made by the body, the medium of the sound — as exterior to the tightness of moving through it. More free. 

h: Yeah, more like a memory. It’s hard to phrase this in a coherent way, but I think of the sound as the actual daemon, because it’s detached and dematerialized from the actual experience. We’re going to play it back, after the thing, at the mixer. 

TG: Wait, so are you going to play each participant’s individual track, or overlay them? 

i We’re going to overlay them. We’re going to mix them at the mixer. Everyone will listen to their feet, and everyone will take one of the obsidian rocks if they choose, so the piece will get cleaned up as we all leave. I just really like labyrinths. It’s an old form. So old. Lots of people, in a ton of different contexts, have used them for similar purposes; it’s a very ubiquitous form. I had one in church when I was growing up that I always had to walk through. I felt like it was the weirdest, most alienating thing to follow this really arbitrary path around something that’s just mowed into the ground that I could run across if I wanted to. And that’s part of it. The boundary will just be one rock thick. There’s nothing stopping you from crossing, but people will feel like they have to do it the right way because they’re in an artistic situation or something. It’ll be weird, it’s kind of fascistic. 

TG: What will you do if someone steps outside the lines? 

h: Nothing! 

i: Celebrate them, I don’t know. 

h: I was thinking, what if someone stepped on one of the contact mikes? That’s totally a possibility. 

i: Scary. 

h: It would make a really cool sound. 

i: It would make a really cool sound. It’d be worth it. I’m imagining someone kicking a rock accidentally and it bouncing… 

h: And how fast are people going to walk through it? How are people going to approach it? Are there going to be a zillion people in there? This is exciting. 

LAMNISCAPE will be accessible in Racquetball Court #1 throughout RAW.