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Metaphysics of the labyrinth

© Anastasiia Zagrabskaia & Taras Shiriaev

Creativity is a labyrinth that a person creates,

first of all, for himself.

In this essay, we would like to consider the problem of interaction between the architect, as the creator of the spatial model, and the observer, as a direct participant in the process and the main consumer of embodied concepts. To explore the emotional component of the relationship between the viewer, the author, and the metaphorical image of the work itself. To trace all the complexity and versatility of the modern world, moving away from clear formulations and concrete definitions to a new level of understanding the complexity of the challenges facing modern architecture, using the spatial structure of the labyrinth, as a complex collective image that combines architectural, historical, mythological and philosophical components.


Any kind of creative activity should strive to the creation of something new, unique, not abiding by the established rules, and not evaluable using usual criteria. At this stage (creation), the author is the source, the subject, setting the main parameters of future reading, assuming the special status of the central figure, the focal point of the original meaning.

Such a position can be interpreted as a purely author’s vision of the process, that allows creating truly outstanding works, while making them very vulnerable to the subjective opinion of an observer, because, due to their uniqueness, they are not subject to the usual evaluation criteria. That’s why it is important to think about future consumers of the author’s work and consumption context (social and environmental factors), trying to predict possible condemnation and rejection. However, an intentional author’s provocation also has the right to exist and lately gains even too much traction in the creative field.

Usually, the main feature of such works, first of all, is the individualism and talent of the author, and hence his creative egocentrism. The process is based on the creation of an integral artwork using the plot map of spatial organization, combining several structural clusters open to interpretation. [Fig.1]

Fig. 1 Spatial structure of the labyrinth, ©author

To be interesting to the public, besides physical structure (shape, appearance) an object must also have ideological (informational code of the object) and emotional components. Integrity is formed as their differential articulation, as a multi-level user labyrinth of the information matrix, always subject to free interpretation. [Fig. 2]

Fig.2 Multi-level map of the labyrinth, ©author

Plot map allows one to create complex mechanics of spatial information retrieval for an observer, based on which some new reverse relationships between the author and the audience are formed, through the presence of many alternative paths of development, which subsequently allow influencing the qualitative characteristics of both parties. [Fig. 3]

Fig.3 Interaction between the author and the viewer, ©author


The labyrinth is a complex metaphysical symbol of the search for truth through the logical and emotional path of discovery of the information space. The duality of the general structure of the labyrinth, the monumental (integral) image of the outer shell, and the structural multiplicity of the internal component, oriented in its formation and development towards the plural (multi-centric) organization of space, makes it possible to create, like the neural network of the brain, a multi-level stream of relaying the information field, which is read out through emotions from the perception of the spatial components of the labyrinth.

The longer the path and the more complex the structure of the labyrinth itself, the more information is available for perception and reading, the more spatial clusters participate in its shaping, the more individual emotional reactions this model evokes in the viewer. [Fig. 4]

Fig. 4 Information matrix of the labyrinth, ©author

Therefore, the main thing in the process of "exploitation" of the work is no longer the author, but the viewer. Bart’s concept "Death of the Author" fully reveals the essence of the presented algorithm. When an abstract Daedalus, presenting his brainchild to the public, "dies" as its creator, and anyone entering the labyrinth becomes the only arbiter of his fate, who reads provided information at his discretion, and therefore interprets the initial data in an arbitrary, individual order, creating a new, alternative, emotional chain of life events and decisions. [Fig. 5]

Fig.5 Individuality of reading, ©author

Emotional determinants of the labyrinth

Every structural element of the labyrinth evokes emotional reactions, which are characterized by their variability of interpretations during the intellectual analysis of the situation. The primary reaction of the viewer to the various determinants of the labyrinth is unconscious; it is fully predetermined by the initial context. We can consider this reaction to be addressed personally to the author, as the only scriptwriter of the action. [Fig. 6]

Fig. 6 Emotional determinants of the labyrinth, ©author

Data analysis and decision-making are part of one’s model of behavior, especially when it comes to the uncertainty of choice. Constant analysis of the process allows the viewer not only to follow a certain route but also to form an independent developmental path based on already passed patterns, turning not only into a discoverer but into the author of a new, improved version.

Experiential knowledge

A characteristic feature of passage through the labyrinth is the atomicity of the operation itself, which must be performed completely since the whole point is to achieve the final emotional result. The only solution to this problem is the gradual accumulation of emotional reactions acquired during interactions with various determinants of the labyrinth, i.e., experiential learning of the space with further formation of an individual scenario of this passage. The formation of associative chains allows not only to cut off wrong decisions right away using acquired experience but also gives our knowledge logical structure and objective character. [Fig. 7]

Fig.7 Emotional atomicity of the process, ©author

Creative suspense

One of the main structural elements of the labyrinth is a dead-end — the result of an incorrectly chosen route. The main goal of this obstacle is to create a stressful situation to activate one’s cognitive abilities in search of solutions to get out of this situation.

The algorithm comes into play: fright — halt — analysis of the current situation — coming up with solutions — choosing the right path to follow.

Thus, the dead-end becomes not a symbol of situational hopelessness, but the main analytical catalyst for creative activity and adoption of logically correct (verified) decisions.

If the “labyrinth of life" does not have instances of such emotional suspense (or there’s very few of them), so that the entire path is calm, measured, and free of obstacles, instincts and talents of a creative person are gradually dulled and atrophied over time, leading to degradation of his cognitive abilities and inevitable creative impotence.


Who is more important in the context of the perception of an idea, the author, or the viewer?

Despite all the controversial nature of this classical philosophical dilemma, based on all of the above, it is important to emphasize the complex inextricable relationship between the author and his viewer (reader), which turned them into a single concept of an artwork’s lifecycle.

In modern society, where information is the main driving force of progress, to answer this question, we will use a simple diagram that visualizes the law of the transition of quantitative changes into qualitative ones. Such a model of a dualistic transition not only characterizes the natural qualitative transformation of information, but also shows the importance of the processing itself, since the analysis of a large amount of data inevitably leads to a qualitative selection of the necessary information segment, and therefore, on its basis, to make the most reasonable and correct decision. [Fig. 8]

Fig.8 Conversion from quantity of information to quality

It is important to note that such a formula for processing a data flow applies both to the author, at the stage of creation, and to the viewer, as an unspoken critic and creator of an alternative developmental path, making them a single whole, where the viewer needs an initial context, and the author needs an independent point of view on his creation. The more professional, structured, and complex the information matrix created by the author is the more chances that an attentive viewer will subsequently become an even more talented author for future generations.





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