More real than reality
Touring the world's first digital art museum in Tokyo
‘This is my favourite room!” exclaimed teamLab member Takashi Kudo as he led us through a maze of hanging crystal lights. With the LEDs glimmering and dancing around us like stars, it felt like we were drifting through a cosmic universe. Taking out his phone, Kudo, with a swipe of his finger, suddenly made it rain. White lights trickled down from the hanging crystal strips mimicking raindrops, changing the atmosphere completely. It was a jaw-dropping experience, but the gorgeous display of light and sound was just the tip of the iceberg.
Opening now in Odaiba, Tokyo, is Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless — dubbed the world’s first digital art museum. Founded by the wildly creative Japanese art collective teamLab, the museum is split into five sections, spans 10,000m², and features 50 fully immersive artworks that seamlessly connect and interact with visitors as well as with one another.
A teamLab show once came to Bangkok in 2016, but there’s no news if the latest creation will travel here as well. Still, if you’re a Tokyo regular and have covered the city down to its smallest alley, the new teamLab show at Odaiba has added a new must-see to your list.
Forest Of Resonating Lamps -- One Stroke.
Weightless Forest Of Resonating Life.
Created using a complex network of 520 computers and 470 high-tech projectors, teamLab goes against all the rules and regulations of the average art museum. Being “borderless”, visitors are encouraged to interact as much as possible with the artworks, and with no map or clear-cut directions, we’re expected to move freely and wander aimlessly to our heart’s content.
“Visitors are going to get lost,” said Kudo. “Maybe they’re going to lose themselves too. They’re going to be inside this immersive world, and then they’re going to discover something through their experience. We believe a borderless world is beautiful. If people experience this museum and feel a borderless world is beautiful, that is our goal.”
Walking into one of the three dark entrances, a riot of colours hit us. Inside the vast room, the walls, floors and ceilings are projected with flowers — shifting and changing colours according to the seasons. Every few minutes, a school of fish or a flock of butterflies would travel across the walls and disappear into the other rooms.
Wandering into each room, we sat beneath a stunning cascading waterfall, walked through an expansive rice field, were propelled into space via trampoline, and watched in awe as flowers bloomed magically inside our teacups — withering once we picked them up for a sip.
On the upper floor — the teamLab Athletics Forest — flowers would bloom around your feet if you stood still. The more people, the more abundant they grow, but if you walk away, they wither and die.
Flower Forest: Lost, Immersed And Reborn.
Crows Are Chased And The Chasing Crows Are Destined To Be Chased As Well, Floating Space -- The Nest.
Roaming around the museum, we create and we destroy, things change and never repeat themselves — a truth of life which teamLabs executes in the most stunning and poetic way. Life is fleeting, so enjoy the moment as much as you can.
“TeamLab’s aim is that we try to find a new relationship between humans and the world; humans and nature; and humans and other people [through art],” said Kudo. “The world is always changing. Nature is always changing. Like the Sakura blossoms in Japan. Every year, it repeats, but it’s a little different. However, maybe you’re going to have a beautiful moment with other people, and it will never be the same again.”
Yet, not only are they trying to provide unparalleled experiences to visitors; teamLabs, with its Athletic Forest upstairs, also wants people to foster more creativity through physical movement.
Guaranteed to be a hit with kids, the Athletic Forest is basically a high-tech jungle gym situated in a valley-like room. There’s the Three-Dimensional Light Bouldering, which visitors have to climb through; there’s the “Boing Boing Universe”, where you jump on a giant trampoline to form planets in a galaxy; and then there’s “Graffiti Nature” balance boards, where one person’s movement will affect the others.
“This project is very important to us,” said Kudo. “We want to make people more creative. But the education system doesn’t foster creativity — it’s sitting down and solving problems two-dimensionally. But our relationship with the world is not only brains. We understand the world with our physical body. So it’s not only for kids. It’s especially for adults where we’re bound by 2D thinking.”
Wander Through The Crystal World.
With 500 members consisting of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects working to create some indescribably stunning pieces, the team has no boundaries or limitations to its creativity.
“We use light instead of paintings, and our canvas is this world,” said Kudo. “Our dream is to create a city by digital art, and in that digital city, people will be positive to one another. If you’re inside of our small world, everyone seems to smile, be happy and be positive to one another because you create flowers and beauty and you’re a part of that beauty with other people. I want to live in that kind of city. I want to raise my four-year-old son in that kind of place — a borderless world.”
Venue: MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: team Lab Borderless Odaiba Palette Town, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
How to get there: 5 min walk towards Ferris wheel from Tokyo Teleport Station (Rinkai Line) and Aomi Station (Yurikamome Line)
Opening Hours: Mon–Thu 11am–7pm (9pm**); Fri & Holiday Eve 11am–9pm (10pm**); Sat 10am–9pm (10pm**); Sun & Holiday 10am–7pm (8pm) **During June 21–Aug 31 Closed on 2nd and 4th Tuesday Early Bird Tickets: Adults (15 and over) ¥2,400 (710 baht); Children (4-14) ¥1,000
Early Bird Tickets are available from today until July 31. Regular Tickets: Adults (15 and over) ¥3,200; Children (4-14) ¥1,000