Tokyo-based group that brings engineers and artists together for global projects makes China debut with interactive exhibition. reports.
It is one of the largest interdisciplinary art collectives in the world. Since it was founded by Toshiyuki Inoko in Tokyo in 2001, teamLab has gathered some 400 professionals from various fields, including artists, engineers, animators, architects and mathematicians.
Calling themselves “ultratechnologists”, they have created installations of light and sound, mixing art and technology that have enthralled the audiences.
The collective works in groups on different projects around the world.
Their digital installations are now shown at exhibitions in seven cities of different countries, including the China debut exhibition, teamLab: Living Digital Forest and Future Park, at Pace Gallery’s space in Beijing.
One is Flower Forest: Lost, Immersed and Reborn, which is taking up the bulk of Pace Beijing’s space of 1,500 square meters. The gallery has been associated with them since 2014.
In this work, a computer program renders real-time images of thousands of flowers in the four seasons — blossoming and withering. They are projected on the floor, the walls and panels of mirrors to create a dynamic garden, with the audience actually inside it rather than looking at it from outside.
The work is interactive: When people touch the flowers or “step” on them, the petals fall and fade away.
Another work, also created by them earlier this year, is displayed in a separate room in the Beijing gallery.
Visitors experience the interactive digital installations at the show in Beijing.
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Computer-generated images on LED screens surround viewers from all sides, narrating the adventure of eight crows that chase each other, scatter and finally turn into flowers. The music for this work, by Hideaki Takahashi, adds dramatic tension and grandeur to it.
“People have to utilize their bodies and open up their senses to experience the environment of the exhibition. The lives of a flower, a leaf and a crow look splendid but also slightly sad,” says Fu Lang, a teamLab:LivingDigitalForestand visitor and a Beijing resident.
“Diverse presentations of the process from glamorous living to a sorrowful death make the installations interesting.”
Inoko, who studied science at the University of Tokyo, says the exhibition aims to make the audience feel that time and space have disappeared, by absorbing people into the environment.
He says people have been empowered by advanced technology, and they try to “draw a clear line between them and the world”. Such work tends to blur the boundary.
“I hope people can understand that the world is not all about the information they get from media such as TV programs and social networking services. I hope people can feel the world with their minds and bodies,” says the 40-year-old artist.
Takashi Kudo, the commu- nications director at teamLab, says technology is not “super important” to their output, although it is the core medium of their work.
He says what matters a lot is the experience of people in finding different ways to communicate with the world.
The digital installations of teamLab have evolved in terms of imagination and technical details, as their previous exhibitions in the United States and Europe have shown.
The collective is among international groups whose interdisciplinary endeavors have created immersive environment at exhibitions and reshaped people’s viewing experiences. And, some such works have been introduced to the Chinese audience in recent times.
“We believe teamLab represents an important development in contemporary art.
James Turrell: Immersive Light from January to May, the China debut of the prominent US artist whose light installations left the audience wondering about different perceptions.
But the rise in such immersive shows has also led to discussions on whether they can be viewed as art.
Xian Zhuoheng, a visitor in Beijing who frequents contemporary art shows, says technology and interdisciplinary efforts have enriched the definition of “artwork”.
“Immersive work, like other forms of art, is a presentation based on individual experience of artists. It’s vivid, interactive and brings art closer to people. And it doesn’t lack in depth of expression.”
Boris from Pace says the current exhibition marks “the close of a cycle of growth for teamLab” and it gives people the clues to the future of their works.
Inoko says his team wants to create an even bigger work — turning a part of a city or natural environment into an exhibition space to display their works.
10 am-6 pm, through Oct 10, Mondays closed. Pace Beijing, 798 art district, 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-59789781.
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