I was fortunate enough to see TeamLab’s “Dance! Art Exhibition! and Learn and Play! teamLab Future Park” exhibition at Tokyo’s Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation last week. The exhibition’s aim is to spark thinking about the future of digital technology and art whilst reinterpreting Japanese culture. Multiple high-profile digital interactive installations were brought together under one roof to entertain all ages, instead of just adults – “We wanted to let children in Japan experience art as well, interacting in the same space with other people, working together to have a creative experience, in a space where they would be able to run around freely!”
The first impressive digital installation I encountered was the ‘Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well‘, made up of seven screens in a darkened room where 5 minute clip projected Japanese mythical birds called Yatagarasu rendered in light flying around the space. The birds leave trails of light, creating “spatical calligraphy” before turning into flowers.
The ‘Sketch Aquarium‘ allowed kids (and adults) chose from a selection of fish, octopus, shark and stingray outline’s on blank A4, colour them in, hand their masterpiece to a member of staff who scans it and the drawing magically joins a huge digital aquarium being projected on the wall. Fish with the same shape form a shoal, where others swim in-amongst the rocks and coral. This is the journey of an Octopus I was given by a little Japanese boy.
There were many other fun interactive installations such as low, round tables with projections of random farm cartoon animals, jumping elves, rain clouds and sunshine rays (all apparently normal in Tokyo) that could be controlled by placing your hands or arms on the table… keeping the elves hostage and watching them trying to escape seemed to be the favourite amongst the younger kids.
On another level of the Museum TeamLab had a much more serine exhibition called the Floating Flower Garden, that immersed visitors in a sea of 2300 kinetically floating flowers that move up and down in relation to people walking through the space. The room was fairly small, and mirrored from floor to ceiling creating the illusion of never ending flowers. Visitors were each given a couple of minutes in the space, walking slowly around as the flowers rose in front of you and moved down behind, covering your tracks. It was well worth the hour and a half wait!