The Future World exhibition at ArtScience Museum was truly an exciting experience, even for repeat visitors like myself, with some of the exhibits changing over the course of several visits. TeamLab, the artistic collective in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, has put up various works that never fail to entertain its audience through immersion and interactivity. Some of their more popular pieces such as the Instagram-worthy ‘Crystal Universe’ and participation-inducing ‘Sketch Town’ still remains in the exhibition since the very beginning.
What stood out most for me during this field trip was the first installation that I saw the moment I entered the exhibition, ‘Transcending Boundaries’. ‘Transcending Boundaries’ serves as a convergence between digital technology and the natural world. The space digitally expands the idea of natural elements like leaves, animals, and water, while keeping true to emulating their natural properties when humans intervene and interact with it. The installation is made several projections of digitally rendered images with Kinect systems that are meant to sense motion. The natural elements act as haptics, where they are responsive to human touch.
Tons of butterflies are seen fluttering on the walls and they fall when we hover our hands over them. The floor is filled with flowers blooming with water trickling down from a waterfall that slowly flows around the area of the flooring that is being stepped on. The room constantly transitions between the four seasons, showing a flow in time and change.
There is also an image of 3D-painted brush strokes, forming Japanese words, that rotates and transforms into a growing tree that transitions from its dormant to a more active state depending on the season that the room is in.
The whole space manages to immerse its viewers in a digital space and encouraged them to take photos in its picturesque environment. I was very impressed with the overall concept of how it aims to emulate the natural environment, enhanced with neon colours and special effects, without the viewers having to be out in nature. I felt that this installation addressed issues concerning the environment. Is technology replacing nature? Would we appreciate nature within the bounds of a digital enclosure rather than experiencing the actual thing outside of the exhibition?
I think the comments and questions you have at the end are interesting to consider Anam. Though I don’t think technology will entirely replace nature, it is interesting to consider how digitised experiences of nature may impact the way we interact or appreciate real nature. Perhaps this is one of the themes that TeamLab is concerned with in their work.