Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Mazes and Patterns

Es Devlin

Lesson time 08:58 min

Es demonstrates how students can tell a story and evoke emotion through a simple line of light. She explains that ideas have an architecture to them and how both the presence of light and the absence of it can create a narrative arc.

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Topics include: Mazes and Patterns • Choose Your Own Adventure • Turn Systems And Patterns Into Art


[MUSIC PLAYING] ES DEVLIN: Mazes have been made by human beings across so many cultures for, really, as long as we can remember-- ancient Greeks, Minoans, Aztecs. I think it may have something to do with an externalization of the form of our own brains, the way that our brains are like a pair of mazes meeting each other within our skulls. They feel like a piece of psychological architecture. You don't go into them to get somewhere. You go into them to find yourself. I think, as makers of performance work, we sit in the dark a lot. We sit inside a lot. We look at screens a lot. And I think the invitation, really, that I would give you as a student is go outside. Go and find something complicated and messy. Find something that doesn't easily resolve itself. Find something that doesn't have straight lines anywhere within it. And observe it. Study it. Draw it. Take photographs of it. Be bemused by it. Confound yourself with it. Find something that you can't easily categorize. And then bring that back into your practice. Enrich your practice with something you don't understand yet. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think the first maze I ever physically walked through was probably in Hampton Court, like so many others. A maze made of something that would naturally grow into a far more organic form had been pruned into these boxes by human hands-- so in itself a kind of contradiction between growth and constraint and yet, through those parameters, allowing growth in the mind as you walk its paths, as you try and solve it, as you try and find your way out or find your way to the center. Actually, there's quite a distinction between a maze and a labyrinth. With a maze, you have choices at every turn. And they say that the way out of a maze is always just stick to the right. As you travel through, you will go the longest route around a maze. But you will get out if you just keep turning right every time. That's quite a boring way to experience one. But with a maze, it's a case of multiple choices and multiple decisions. With a labyrinth, actually, there's only one way to go. You'll find with a labyrinth, there are no choices. You just have to follow your path. So first choose what of these forms is going to most express what you want to talk about. And then, I would say, you really do need to do a bit of research because there's quite a lot to learn about how to even start to draw them. So there are tons of books about it. There's tons of images on the internet. There's loads of ways to research these things. And it's endlessly fascinating because, you'll find, it'll remind you of how you think. How we think often is that we, as humans, stick our thoughts to objects, ascribing memories to certain trees and certain rocks in the landscape. We've always been creatures that wanted to make connections between the structures in our mind and the environments we find ourselves within and the objects around us. So a maze becomes a kind o...

About the Instructor

For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Es Devlin

Designer and artist Es Devlin teaches you her approach to creating powerful visual stories and cultivating creativity in any form.

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