‘technology is not in conflict with nature’ – teamLab’s new borderless museum opens in tokyo
teamLab unveils new ‘borderless’ digital museum
Interdisciplinary art collective teamLab presents its new Borderless digital artmuseum, now relocated to Azabudai Hills in Tokyo (see designboom’s previous coverage here). Opening its doors on February 9, 2024, the revamped venue showcases over 50 immersive artworks that dynamically interact with one another, blending to construct a boundless world of artistic expression. Devoid of conventional constraints, teamLab Borderless invites visitors to wander freely, encouraging exploration within its ever-evolving landscape. The museum leverages cutting-edge technology to transport guests into a realm of wonder, where cosmic voids materialize through mesmerizing projections, ephemeral lights bloom in darkness, and digital fires blaze amidst frozen worlds. Among its artworks is Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light, a mesmerizing installation of countless lights traversing a space of infinite expansion. In addition, a massive Light Sculpture, sweeps towards visitors, expanding and enveloping them in its luminous embrace.
To find out more about the new teamLab Borderless museum, the interactive installations, and the way they connect to visitors, designboom visited the space and spoke with the teamLab team, ahead of the venue’s opening. ‘At the new teamLab Borderless, this group of artworks without boundaries will evolve, moving into more spaces, connecting in more complex ways, eternally changing, and creating one borderless world,’ they share. Read the interview in full, below.
designboom (DB): Can you explain the technological tools involved in bringing ‘Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light,’ and ‘Light Sculpture’ to life?
teamLab (TL): We could say that technology is the core of our work, but it is not the most important part. It is still just a material or a tool for creating art. Before people started accepting digital technology, information and artistic expression had to be presented in some physical form. Creative expression has existed through static media for most of human history, often using physical objects such as canvas and paint. The advent of digital technology allows human expression to become free from these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely.
Furthermore, digital technology has made the expression of change itself more free and precise. It has become possible to express change based on the behavior of people and the artwork’s surroundings. This enables the artwork to become interactive with the viewers, and viewers can participate in the artwork. No longer limited to physical media, digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically. Since digital art can easily expand, it provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space. We are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces, and viewers can experience the artwork more directly.
DB: Can you elaborate on your research about people’s relationships with nature and the world through digital technology?
TL: We have no desire to copy nature through digital technology, but we believe that digital technology and its use in creating artistic expression will enable us to perceive more widely the relationship between humans and nature, which we have lost touch with in our daily lives. Rather than reproducing nature itself, we want to create works that allow people to feel the continuity of nature and the world with their bodies. We believe that technology is not in conflict with nature but has the potential to complement it.
DB: What makes these two new experiences so special? Were there deliberate connections or contrasts between these two art spaces to create a cohesive visitor experience or a narrative?
TL: In the Light Sculpture – Flow series, massive sculptures in which light appears to flow out are born, sweeping towards people, expanding, and drawing people into it. The light sculptures that emerge in the space called Asymmetric Universe are born as asymmetrically different entities between the real space and the world inside the mirror. The sculptures go back and forth between the real world and the world inside the mirror. teamLab has been creating sculptures that don’t exist materially, as part of the concept Spatial Sculpture with Ambiguous Boundaries. ‘Why do we feel the existence of life in the vortices of the ocean? Even if the components are spatially and temporally separate, when order is formed in parts of the whole, it is perceived as a single entity, and even life-like.’ Based on this idea, the aggregate of light that flows is what creates a universe in which we sense life.
TL (continued): In Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light, countless wobbling lights run continuously through a space that infinitely expands, of which the depth cannot be comprehended. The artwork explores the question, ‘Even if the components in the artwork are spatially and temporally separate, when different orders are formed and overlap as a whole, is that the universe?’ Wobbling Light is a part of teamLab’s latest art project Cognitive Sculpture, which is a series of sculptures that do not exist in the physical world but rather in the cognitive world. Even if the components of an artwork are temporally and spatially separate, in other words, moving freely or moved around by people, when density and continuity or order are formed in the whole or in parts, it is perceived as a single entity, and even life-like. The physical position of the components become free, and the surface boundary of the work’s existence becomes ambiguous. Water, bubbles, fog, and mist, which are free-moving components to begin with, are recognized as a single entity when density and continuity or order, or cognitive continuity and order, are formed in the whole or in parts. Since the components move freely, the boundary surface with our bodies becomes ambiguous. In the works, everything exists in infinite continuity. And continuity itself is beautiful.