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Technology10 May 2019

teamLAB Borderless: the future of museums, exhibitions and art installations in which the viewer becomes a co-creator

Social trend

I heard about teamLAB for the first time two years ago during the C2 conference in Montreal. Then Daisuke Sakai and Takeshi Kudo on the main stage in the shape of a circus arena talked about a 500-person, interdisciplinary collective, designing amazing experiences connecting the real world with the virtual one. It did not cross my mind that soon I will have the opportunity to admire the amazing effects of their work.

While visiting Tokyo I paid a visit teamLAB Borderless. To the entrance to this magical place was almost a half-kilometer long queue of people with previously (sic!) purchased tickets. This is not surprising. TeamLAB exhibitions are often referred to as # 1 to visit in 2019 while visiting Japan. Well-known personalities of culture, media and art come to Tokyo only to “tick off” and immortalize them on their Instagram, which TeamLAB makes great use of by sharing photos on their profile, thus heightening their interest in their work. JWT Intelligence, the research company, in its annual report “The Future 100” placed teamLAB objects as the best examples of the first trend in the section devoted to culture entitled Museum Futures.

It is difficult to define and categorize Borderless in an unambiguous way. This is in part a unique gallery, but also a collection of interactive exhibitions that create a huge virtual installation. It is also an imaginary world that you enter to be drawn in and which you cannot get out without picking up a colloquial teeth off the floor. The whole lives, penetrates and is totally unpredictable – entering one room, and then returning to it, we will find in it a completely different visualization or a part of the one we saw in the next room, but in a changed form.

What in general is teamLAB? It is the only team of experts in various fields, founded in 2001,who call themselves ultratechnologists. Their cooperation is an attempt to move at the intersection of the latest technologies, art, science, design and the natural world. The group consists of 500 people including programmers, artists, engineers, specialists in digital graphics and visual arts, architects and even mathematicians. As the overarching goal of its existence, teamLAB has set the discovery of new connections and relationships between man and nature through sophisticated, modern visual art, supported by the latest technology. It allows the art to free itself from physical limitations and go far beyond the boundaries known to art. The world of Borderless is the proof of this. If someone needs more experience, there is a “teamLAB Planet” nearby, the second work of teamLAB ultrathologists of almost the same size, located on the artificial Odaiba island in the southern part of Tokyo.

Borderless is really a collection of many individual digital installations that respond to human movement and with which you can interact with by touch. The works move freely on all walls (inside there is total darkness, except for the small rest rooms located in different parts of the building), following the viewers and encouraging them to establish even a short interaction. Do you need an example? Here you are. A pink moose, built of virtual flowers, wandering the corridor wall step by step with visitors (below on a short video). What’s more, the works are able to influence themselves, communicate with each other and mutually penetrate each other, so live and before our eyes, another unique work is created, the final form of which is unknown to anyone. In this world it is easy to get lost because of the fact that visitors – as in no other museum or gallery – become an essential part of the whole event – because their behavior is part of the exhibition. Borderless is therefore a place that is always open, and the presented works have a very dynamic, volatile and changeable character.

Being inside, it’s hard not to get the impression that you are experiencing a completely new type of art in which the technology is the heart. What is static, obvious and predictable in museums or exhibitions has been changed into a multidimensional, interactive and eye-catching viewer’s experience, stimulating the imagination in a previously unknown and unused way. Most importantly – the works presented in the Borderless interiors are not the most important, but the man. The creators put him in the role of the main character – a narrator and a creator of modern art.

Are places like teamLAB Borderless the future of museums, exhibitions or installations? Definitely. This is one of the most interesting scenarios for the culture and entertainment industry, because it shows how the way of interacting with art and how we experience it can change. It is also an example of an extremely interesting change that can be observed in cultural spaces: the transition from the role of a passive viewer, observer to participant and even a co-creator. TeamLAB creators about their work say: ‘We desire magic… Digital technology can allow us to access other realms. It’s shamanistic’. Without exaggeration.

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