After meeting teamLab, and having immersed ourselves in the magic of the experiential spaces at the Digital Art Museum in Tokyo (Part I and Part II), Luca Zaffarano takes us through the last rooms in an itinerary that, also as a result of the conversation with teamLab’s Ken Gail Kato, embraces technology, religion, progress and tradition through the vision and experience of the collective.
(…) We exit this luminescent crystal and enter the room Memory of Topography. Here an expanse of plastic objects, similar to wildflowers, made of elastic stalks topped by white disks, covers the entire room. The disks are illuminated with images of leaves, vegetation and thousands of lights like fireflies. As visitors cross this room, they move the disks as if making their way through flowers, while a dynamic flux of continuously moving images surprises them with the same magic as a nocturnal walk in a field of sunflowers.
Ken Gail Kato, our interlocutor, notes that «some parts of our artwork are modeled on traditional Asian art, and of course Japanese ones.» In one room, four screens show liquid paintings in black and white, whose algorithms bring to mind the mastery of the great calligraphers. These compositions are formed through overlapping signs as if they were situated on distinct planes, displaying a three-dimensional depth impossible to express on paper. In these works, the white space is the true protagonist.
In many areas, the physical participation of visitors is required: they are invited to jump on trampolines, to walk suspended on luminescent rocks fixed to poles in a forest so thick that it brings to mind small bamboo forests, and to immerse themselves in a pneumatic mass of balls which change colour. The youngest visitors are given the opportunity to draw in a workshop. The work can then be taken to the staff which, in a few seconds, scans the image and uploads into a large video-wall installed in the education area, making it wave and float the drawing in a sea of fishes and other elements, for the delight of the children. This workshop is not based on any specific methodology, but represents an opportunity for the youngest visitors to stop, draw and colour.
We then visit the forest of resonating lamps, where we have to queue on account of its popularity. We enter a narrow space amplified by mirrors where dozens of Murano glass lamps are illuminated through people’s movements, activating those nearest as if the lamps are resonating at each visitor’s passing.
Lastly, we stop in the tea room, where the cups are illuminated in the centre with the image of a lotus flower whose petals slide away along the table’s surface each time we take a sip and place the cup down on the table. All thoughts gradually fade away in the semi-darkness of the room and our minds are emptied.
Outside, on a warm autumn day, along the Odaiba beach, families enjoy the sun, the park and the intense blue of the Tokyo sky.
The most sophisticated visitors might view this experience as an elegant and technologically advanced variation on a theme park, rather than an example of successful art as experience. However we decide to classify it – art or entertainment – this work manages to make us more aware of the small acts staged by mother nature every day with a beauty that takes our breath away, despite our consumer-destroyer behaviour.
teamLab. Borderless, MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo
images (cover 1) teamLab – Exhibition view of MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo © teamLab (2 – 4- 5 – 6) teamLab – Exhibition view of MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo, photo: Parimbelli (7) teamLab – Exhibition view of MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo © teamLab. teamLab is represented by Pace Gallery