If you’re a human with an Instagram account, there’s a decent chance you’re aware about Mori Building’s Digital Art Museum, teamLab Borderless.
I’ve become a fan of teamLab’s extraordinary exhibits ever since I went to my first one in Singapore in December 2016. FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science is located at the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands, and was Singapore’s largest digital art gallery. For that reason, I went to Tokyo’s teamLab Jungle: Light Art and Music Festival which was a temporary exhibition in summer 2017. So when I came across the news that teamLab was coming out with not only a new exhibit this summer but also the world’s first digital art museum I knew for sure I would be going.
The Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless is considered to be the most futuristic and progressive museum in the world and luckily they’ve made it permanent. teamLab Borderless has created immense buzz prior to opening on June 21st, 2018. While tickets were immediately sold out I was more than glad to have been able to go this month.
The museum is divided into five main sections; Borderless World, Athletics Forest, Future Park, Forest of Lamps and the En Tea House – the latter two are single installation rooms. There are a good 50 exhibits spread across this vast space of Odaiba’s Palette Town. Just as the museum name ‘borderless’ suggests, the space is a giant collection of artwork that forms a borderless world; you see art moving freely across rooms and it feels new every time you take a look. You are encouraged to wander around at your pace and liking. There are no signs leading you to the “right” direction so you’re in full control of the immersive art installations that bridge art and technology.
Here are some highlights to my favorite installations from the museum.
This was one of my favourite exhibits; an infinity room full of LEDs and mirrors. They’ve recreated this installation in a bigger space from teamLab’s hit 2016 exhibition. I recall my #teamLabSG experience when I was highly disappointed by the size of the room. It was so small than anticipated, so being able to walk around what felt like an ‘infinity room’ was exciting. I’m pretty sure I spent the most time here trying to get the right shot while the lights changed colors. Also, upon entering the room you can download an app from the QR code provided to be in control of the light colors. Therefore, the space is in perpetual change all thanks to the visitor interaction.
I was the most excited about this exhibit, which is why I kept it for the last. We had to queue up for a good 30 minutes before being able to enter but the lamp room was so fascinating.
When a person stands still close to a lamp, it shines brightly and emits a color that resonates you. The light of this lamp becomes the starting point, and it spreads to the two nearest lamps. The light from the two nearest lamps transmits the same color to other lamps, one after another, spreading out continuously. The light transmitted from the lamp always resonates out as a bright light once, passing to close lamps, till all lamps have shone brightly once, and then returns to the first lamp.
Prior to being there I was not aware about the time limit. Around 20 visitors are allowed inside the bulb-heavy room for under 5 minutes. ONLY 5 MINUTES. So if you’re trying to get the perfect shot keep in mind you are under a time crunch. I honestly wish I could’ve gone to this one twice but I didn’t have any patience left after spending nearly 4 hours at the museum.
The Weightless Forest is where you can be three dimensionally immersed by various objects of light that move around the space. Located one floor above from where you enter, the space was really fun and vibrant. When the objects of light are pushed over the color changes and consequently all the objects nearby will react and change into the same color or tone. It’s a beautiful color chain effect. It’s quite similar to the Forest of Resonating Lamps except more softer, less delicate and no time limit!
Stumbled upon Memory of Topography on the way to another exhibit. I swear the museum is a maze and you could definitely get lost. The entry to this exhibit was from one of the long hallways with multiple gateways to other installations. The room depicts a rural mountain landscape of the Japanese countryside. The projection portrays the rice fields as the seasons change from spring, summer autumn and winter. It’s a spectacular sight of scenery presented through what look like disks. I had fun frolicking around seeing the movement of insects influenced by our actions.
This room is a respite from the bright colorful installations. If you’re looking for a little break from wandering around the museum find your way to this space. The movement of water is simulated on the black walls. Gazing at the waves swirl kindles a calming feeling. There are a bunch of beanbags in the room for you to use while watching the waves swirl – all of which were occupied when I visited, oh well.
This was the first installation space I walked into and was already at awe. It was literally sugoi and kirei as I overheard a bunch of Japanese people uttering the same. It’s safe to say that this is the biggest room in the museum with walls and floors covered with projected flowers. I would advise to spend some good time here to see the seasons change gradually across the space. The space recreates the cycle growth of blossoming flowers through the year. If you stay still by one of the walls, you will see flowers grow and bloom around you. If you touch or step on the flowers, they shed their petals and all decay. It’s an amazing sight because the installation is rendered in real-time and is continuously changing as the visitors interact.
This activity is just as fun for kids as it is for adults. I decided to draw my own flower on a stencil provided and then have it scanned by the staff. Your drawing then comes to life and become a part of the space and you can find it floating around. I highly recommend coloring a sea creature or fish because they’re easier to spot. It took forever to spot mine – literally had to scan it twice and somehow managed to find my little flower! You can interact with the floating drawings and coordinate its movement.
This room is almost an extension to the Flower Forest. The installation depicts the high mountains and deep valleys. The projection behind the rock simulates a waterfall. The rock is crowded almost at all times. In fact the waterfall and rock are both interactive. When you stand on the rock or touch the waterfall, they too become like a rock thus causing the flow of water to change. While everyone is trying to be on top of the rock, do take a moment to see the surroundings of the room -the projections are stunning!
If you’ve made it this far I’m quite proud of you – I know that was quite a lot of images to scroll through. Nonetheless, here are 3 quick tips that can come in hand if you’re planning to visit this digital phenomenon.
1. Avoid wearing prints & wear appropriate footwear. Go for a single/plain color (preferably white as its easier to blend into the displays and gives a more immersive experience). There’s lots of walking involved so wear comfortable shoes or borrow a pair from their free shoe rental area.
2. Touch EVERYTHING. They don’t tell you this prior to entering but mostly all projections will react to your movements, so touch and feel everything you can.
3. Take your time. There’s a lot to explore so make sure to give yourself enough time to really see the 50+ installations. Also there is no time limit so what’s the rush? I spent almost 4 hours and it was completely worth it!
Photo Credits: SSPhotography