Make believe: lose yourself in TeamLab’s immersive lightworks
Having impressed at Pace Gallery’s stand at this year’s Hong Kong Art Basel, digital art pioneer TeamLab has transformed a cavernous warehouse location in Odaiba, Japan, for its newest offering, ’DMM Planets: World of Wonders’, which ushers in an exciting new age for interactive art.
The space has been filled with four mesmerising lightworks that guests can explore uninhibited, interacting with them from an app on their smartphones. The first and largest piece, Wander through the Crystal Universe, is housed in a 20m x 20m x 4m room that makes guests feel like they’ve walked into a futuristic pointillist painting. Tiny LED lights are suspended on slim wire droplets. Each one relates and reacts to the next, so when viewed together, they give the impression of a singular, unified organism; or perhaps more accurately, a perfectly synchronised shoal of fish.
The ’World of Wonder’ continues in a domed space called Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers, which is as dreamy as it sounds. Here, vibrant 3D flowers are projected onto the walls, floor and ceiling and move celestially, recalling shooting stars in a planetarium. Like magic, visitors can use their smartphones to release a white-light butterfly into the air, and watch it flutter away through the blooming constellations.
Perhaps most beautiful of all is the installation called Drawing on the Water Surface, where virtual koi carp swim in a physical pool of water. Visitors wade through, and as their legs brush against the computerised Koi, the fish burst into drifting spirals of flowers.
Crucially, none of the works are run on loops, scheduled animations or pre-determined algorithms. As such, each is indelibly altered by the people who move within them. ’Previous visual states can never be replicated, and will never reoccur,’ TeamLab reassures us, which puts the art entirely at the mercy of the viewer. Quite a responsibility. After the intensity of this ultra-technologist experience, guests can relax in a room which is welcomingly primitive in contrast. Within this Soft Black Hole, walls, floors and ceilings are swallowed by darkness, and visitors are invited to lollop on a black, billowing pillow of air. As one person collapses, another is lifted up from the weight, and a buoyant balancing act begins.
Outside on solid ground, real-world Japan takes some adjusting to. It’s quite easy to leave your mind behind amid the make-believe ’World of Wonders’, where time, space and worry are dropped, and imagination roams free.