We begin by studying the essence of Toshiyuki Inoko, the founder of TeamLab’s work: escaping reality through art. “We want to make a city itself become art,” Kudo says. “People can live inside artworks. Art can change the relationships between people.”
As we embark on our journey, moving forward from the concept of how we use technology to envision what a Smart City would look like in the future, we delve into the use of technology to create a cohesive ecosystem to immerse the audience into the visceral experience of what it would be like to live in such a futuristic and dynamic city.
Most, if not all of these installations are curated more towards the childlike wonder of the younger generation. Thus, the need for a installation which provides adequate feedback is important to retain the engagement and attention of children. Apart from the ‘Sanctuary’ installation, all other works would include some form of touch or movement to interact with the piece.
Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries
Walking through the dark alley into an explosion of light, you are immediately transported into another world. Elements of nature fill your vision as you look around the room. This installation seeks to enhance the beauty of nature, something which is rarely talked about in creating a smart city. A large waterfall can be seen cascading across the wall and onto the ground. As you stand in awe of the multitudes of colour displayed on the walls, you will start to notice that the waterfall would be gently enveloping your shadow, flowing around you. The dynamic flow of the waterfall is not random, as explained by our guide – TeamLab worked with engineers and physicists to ensure that the movement of water is as scientifically close to what we can find in nature. Sound is quintessential in all of their exhibitions as This level of detail adds realism into the piece which is what makes it immersive.
Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, Ephemeral Life Born from People
Teamlab exceeds expectations when creating this immersive experience as it offers more than just aesthetics. When in this space, you can interact with the butterflies scattered all across the room by touching them, and when you do so, they wither and die, falling to the ground. These projections and sensors are all connected to a computer with superior processing capabilities which enable it to render the interactions in real time. Thus, it forms an ecosystem whereby everything is intertwined and meant to work flawlessly and in harmony. There was a mix of screens and projections which the paths of the butterflies were able to take. On the screens, the butterflies were in a ‘safe’ zone whereby the could not be touched and killed. What amazed me was the size of the room and how many butterflies were dispersed everywhere – the magnitude of this project and the amount of different permutations and combinations on different mediums left me in awe.
Life Survives by the Power of Life
It would be easy to overlook this piece of work in relation to everything else which is going on in the enclosure as it is simply a screen displaying a rotating piece of wood. However, as you continue to look at this piece of art, it slowly morphs and blossoms (literally) into a magnificent piece of art. This tree branch cycles through the seasons of the year, all while in constant rotation. It is truly mesmerizing as you watch the transformation of this branch – little trivia, this was the piece which propelled TeamLab into the public eye as it was first displayed in 2011, when renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami invited TeamLab to display a piece at his Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei.
Sketch Town and Connecting! Block Town
The concept behind sketch town is one that intrigues audiences from all ages. This installation allows the audience to change the art work based on their imagination. Audiences are encouraged to design a vehicle of their choice using any of the provided templates. Afterwards, they would then scan in their designs and it would be projected onto the screen. There would also be a real time render of the city with all of the different custom designs of the vehicles. This concept is also similar to Connecting! Block Town as it allows for the audience to move elements within the city, using the landscape as a canvas. These technologies can be applied to VR and it would facilitate conceptualizing and visualising what our future cities could look like.
Impermanent Life, at the Confluence of Spacetime New Space and Time is Born
This installation is one of the few exceptions when it comes to interaction as the audience is not required to participate in this piece. This piece is to remind audiences that moments of relaxation and reflection is crucial for our well being and it is important to take a step back and view things in its entirety, appreciating the journey taken so far.
Overall, diversity, process and intelligence are important mantras for Inoko and we can evidently see that in his work. TeamLab consists of over 400 different individuals working across the globe. The inclusion of nature and city infrastructure in the works helps us envision what the future may hold, in both art as well as the landscape of the future.