There are days when we hate technology. Where we want to do nothing but throw our phone out the back of the 390 down York Way and renounce the world for its obnoxious descent into digital madness. Then there are days where we can’t help but marvel at the miracle. There are things that make us take a step back and gasp in incredulity. Disbelieve our eyes. Revel in our reverie. teamLab’s Transcending Boundaries is one of these things.
Formed in 2001, teamLab is a collective and ‘interdisciplinary creative group’, bringing together artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects, editors, web designers. Anyone involved in the new world of digital. Together they explore the dark space between the fabrics of art, science, technology and creativity. Dubbing themselves ‘the ultratechnologists’, they are a morphing laboratory that will change the way that you look at the real world.
We went along to see their latest sold-out London show Transcending Boundaries to see what they had concocted this year…
[Transcending Boundaries] explores the role of digital technology in transcending the physical and conceptual boundaries that exist between different artworks.
Images from one work break free from their restrictive frames and enter the space of the other. Dissolving the distinctions between art and gallery, the exhibition then brings the viewer into the work. They, themselves, affecting the way that the art is displayed, creating a continuous stream of new, individual, transcendental pieces that only they will see.
In room number 2 we find ourselves in a simulation. Lost in the sea at night. The white froth the only glint of light, of hope. Surrounded by the waves (they’re created in a 3D virtual space), you are immersed, drowned, buoyed and barraged. There, in the pit of the alien world, you are nature’s subject.
Flowers Bloom On People
In this room the darkened space is transformed by our entrance, and we become the canvases. We’re adorned in flowers in the continuous process of change. They grow, decay and scatter around our bodies. Curl under our feet, glint in our eyes and draw delicate lines around ourselves.
You feel shrunk. Dipped in the hyper colour of lily ponds, hidden in the covert. A fawn bambiing around, wide eyed and joyous. Playfully learning about the world around you.
Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries
This is the exhibition’s main stage, featuring six different artworks; an exploration of Ultra Subjective Space.
Until the late nineteenth century, people in Japan depicted the world differently than today. This ancient Japanese sense of spatial recognition has been lost in modern times. With our work, we explore whether the world itself has changed spatially, or if people have lost sight of how they once saw things.
Traditional Japanese painting is generally described as “flat.” We believe that our ancestors saw the world exactly as depicted in ancient Japanese paintings, to the same extent that contemporary Japanese conceptualize space as seen in modern perspective-based paintings or photos.
In other words, we believe that our forebears developed a logical structure of spatial recognition that differs from the Western Renaissance perspective. Since influences from neighbouring Asian countries greatly shaped premodern Japan, it might be said that this specific spatial awareness applied to ancient Asia as a whole.
A virtual waterfall runs down the walls of the room, churning its blue-white tendrils along the floor beneath your feet. Flowing between those in the room, the water spills and slaps around you, creating diverging streams around your positioning in an ever moving torrent of neon fibre-optics. The water swirls and morphs the art displayed on the walls, and you are lost in a harmonious symphony, a blurred lined between the 3D world we have grown up to know and its art and imagination.
Wonder. Awe. Intrigue. You know the world as an adult. Now explore the digital world as a child again. This is something you simply need to see.