exhibitions / Installation

Bask in and interact with Japanese art

The Japanese art-collective and ‘ultra-technologists’ [I think it means, no wait…] TeamLab have taken an art mash-up approach to projection technology.

On display for the first time at the Art Gallery of NSW (Australia) is the free exhibition Time, Light, Japan: Japanese art 1990s to now.

TeamLab’s Flowers and People – Gold 2015 explores the familiar Japanese theme of nature in its work by creating  an immersive instalment that sees flowers bloom and fade in response to the presence of viewers. Hung on the wall as a canvas would be, the art soon fills the room drawing the viewer into the subject.



TeamLab have exhibited a number of other impressive installations. In Singapore their work is being used as permanent feature in a children’s interactive play space at the ArtScience Museum (Mariana Bay Sands).

Future World: Where Art Meets Science opened in March 2017 and here the buzz term ‘immersive’ can genuinely be applied. The space features 16 cutting-edge installations aimed at children (sigh) for ‘playful possibilities’ and ‘adventure through exploration’. The ideas are truly awe inspiring.

In one area a child designs a sea creature on a piece of paper but soon sees it come to life swimming around the digital aquarium on the wall next to them. At this point they can choose to either feed the creation or let it swim away (Sketch Aquarium). Using the same technology that allows the child’s drawn images to be scanned and projected onto the interactive wall, other installations vary the theme from town planning to a woodland walk. Or more simply, in another room kids move down a slide that reacts to their movement with images and sound.

It can sometimes seem like children get all the fun; however, earlier this year TeamLab presented their own exhibition at London’s Pace Gallery. The sold out Transcending Boundaries ran from Jan-March 2017 and again used flowers and nature in its theme. TimeOut described it as ‘awe-inspiring digital installations that walk a tightrope between art, technology and design’.

In one work, a waterfall flows down the wall on to the floor, parting around your feet. In another, they’ve mapped how hundreds of thousands of water particles interact and re-visualised themas ghostly undulations surrounding you in an otherwise pitch-black room. In one of the main pieces, flowers are projected on to you – if you move, the flowers crumble and die, but if you stay still, more will grow.

Time Out

A view of TeamLab’s Instagram account will fill your afternoon and possibly prompt the question: Why aren’t more spaces filled with this type of creative education for all ages?

We can only hope there is much more to come.

Is Japanese art having a global moment or am I biased towards including current exhibitions around the globe that feature it? From Yayoi Kusama’s installations at the Hirshhorn Museum (USA) and MONA (Australia), to Barbican’s (London) ambitious full-size recreation of Japanese architecture inside the gallery, to the Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya who featured at London’s Tate Modern last month.