Self-Shifting Kinetic Maze Is a Modernized, Urban Labyrinth (Video)

© Raymond Yeung

Evolving from knot gardens of Renaissance times, hedge mazes -- labyrinths made out of hedges and garden elements -- were created to confuse and delight visitors. In a modern version of the hedge maze, media artist Nova Jiang's interactive installation "Landscape Abbreviated" does the same thing -- except that it's electronically programmed to shift and change its configuration as people walk through. Check out the video:

Landscape Abbreviated from Nova Jiang on Vimeo.

Calling it a "garden that is also a machine" on FastCo.Design, Jiang built the installation using networked servo-mechanisms which rotate sixteen identical wooden planters, containing moss collected from various places from all over New York City. It's an urbanized, kinetic version of stately garden mazes of old, and is programmed with an algorithm that allows the pathways of the maze to change, yet remaining always solvable.

© Raymond Yeung
© Raymond Yeung

Says Jiang:

I am interested in the way simple interventions can make the experience of space dynamic and unpredictable. The planters are controlled by a software program that continuously generates new maze patterns based on mathematical rules; they rotate to form shifting pathways that encourage visitors to change direction and viewpoints as they move through the space.

© Raymond Yeung

I envision this sculpture not as a classical labyrinth built to ensnare, but rather as an architectural abbreviation of grand ideas. In this way, the maze relates to literature, mathematical beauty, game play and the rigor of software programming, as much as it does to architecture and landscape.

© Raymond Yeung

It's a clever update on a garden typology that makes it responsive and adaptable through time -- and we wonder how this concept might further evolve, such as gardens that might be programmed to shift themselves to catch stronger rays of sun? More fascinating details at Nova Jiang's website.

Tags: Architecture | Arts | New York City


treehugger on phone
treehugger slideshows