Posts tagged with "teamLab":

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Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki

A pink gecko scuttles across a psychedelic digital landscape, deftly navigating a tangled maze of drifting butterflies, waddling alligators, and a pair of pensive whales passing below. Stepping on any creature will result in its explosive demise, yet simply navigating the trippy environment renders such destruction inevitable. This sort of high-tech super-nature is par for the course in Japanese art collective teamLab’s immersive exhibitions but a first for Helsinki, Finland—and Amos Rex, the new art museum hosting the group’s first show in the Nordic region. The five-year, $64-million Amos Rex project was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstsamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum (RIP 1965–2017). The project involved both a $17-million facelift of Lasipalatsi, the "Glass Palace" built in central Helsinki in the 1930s by three Finnish architecture students for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics (which was postponed until 1952 due to the Second World War), as well as the construction of a new underground art museum particularly well-suited for new media and immersive installation art. Because Lasipalatsi was originally supposed to be temporary, its young designers received carte blanche, resulting in an ambitious Functionalist fun home that includes a cinema, restaurants, shops, and a backdoor public square surrounded by 19th-century neoclassical barracks. Almost destroyed in the 1980s but listed and restored in the 1990s when it reemerged with a glorious inner coat of pastels, the Glass Palace is a resilient building with a tumultuous past. JKMM have taken care to preserve much of this history, including its doors and windows, fitted furniture and movie seats, plus the first outdoor neon sign in Finland. The revitalized 550-seat art deco cinema and new film program will be the delight of many a cinephile, yet the most compelling aspect of Lasipalatsi—and where the old most energetically meets the new—is out back. Once the site of military parades, the historic public square has been transformed into a surreal lunar landscape, where a series of bulbous domes sporting large round windows now connects a veritable jungle gym of a plaza to an underground art hub. “I was sitting in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly a man with a stroller appeared right outside the window of our second-floor office,” grins Timor Riitamaa, the head of communications and marketing at Amos Rex. “That was when I realized the park was open.” Positioned somewhere between alien topography and an ancient lifeform, the textured concrete playscape is a total hit in Helsinki. Sunbathers, selfie-snapping teens, Instagram influencers, romping children, and even daredevil parents can be seen ascending the five volcano-like protrusions to peer down into the subterranean art world below. Within the museum, sliding butts, squished noses and photography wars are now as common a view as the art, which unfurls in a columnless 24,000-square-foot gallery space. Building underground is never easy, and for JKMM it involved burrowing through nearly 140,000 square feet of hard bedrock found right underneath the city’s surface. Their approach was slow but steady—and went largely unnoticed. The square closed in 2015 so that the architects could carry out miniature controlled explosions, timed for every four minutes so the Helsinki Metro system could run undisturbed. It was a teeth-gritting exercise, but little of that angst can be felt from the ethereal white staircase connecting Lasipalatsi to the new museum lobby below. Descending the stairs, a generous view out onto the square framing Lasipalatsi’s old columns beside new sci-fi domes is swallowed up by a cloud of soft lighting. Designed by Finnish company Doctor Design, the textured ceiling of pleated fabric shades diffuses light through rows of flower-like pendants. Tightly bundled together in a way that floats between surrealism and Finnish National Romanticism, the lights are a clear nod to Lasipalatsi’s heritage. The ceiling flower field yields to two large tunnels ending in angled circular skylights that peer out onto the public plaza some 20 feet above. One offers a significant view out onto the staircase of the old theatre, while the second was framed by the tiny hands and faces of several miniature onlookers during my visit. Futuristic circular benches are positioned directly below, seemingly at the ready for sky-gazers. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight,” confirms Freja Stahlberg, the project architect. The extent of the sculptural skylights’ magnetic effect on the public square above was a delightful surprise for both architect and museum. Back below ground, Massless, the inaugural exhibition by teamLab, echoes the world-making imagination of the architects. Four immersive installations make full use of JKMM’s revolutionary modular museum layout, realized through an acoustic-disk ceiling made from perforated aluminum and a wooden gridded floor below which “data, air, and power all flow,” according to the architect. The museum’s high-tech fixtures meet their match in the 137 projectors, motion sensor technology, and eight miles of cables that make up teamLab’s digital multiverse. The exhibition consists of fan favorites like Graffiti Nature as well as Vortex of Light Particles, a site-specific piece that involves an inverted waterfall seemingly bent on sucking visitors into an Anish Kapoor-like black hole that inhabits the main domed ceiling. Vortex is clearly the stuff of tripping nerds’ dreams (it was a hit among Silicon Valley tech bros at Pace in Palo Alto), while its dark dreamscape subverts the light-filled expectations of Amos Rex, proving the museum’s versatility. “Virtual reality isolates you in a virtual space. We are trying to bring everyone back to a physical space,” said teamLab member Nonaka Kazumasa. While Massless uses digital technology to bring its viewers closer to nature and each other, Amos Rex performs the larger function of bringing untraditional art experiences to Helsinki’s public in a spatially-sensitive and cost-effective way. It is a cunning answer to the city's future urban development plan that prioritizes inner-city densification, but Amos Rex should also be seen as a testament to the merits of building deeper and the informal spaces for public play that can bubble up to the surface.
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teamLab to open immersive digital museum in Tokyo

Tokyo-based collective teamLab is set to open its DIGITAL ART MUSEUM in Tokyo on June 21, 2018. With the support of developer MORI Building, the museum will be the first in the world to exclusively feature digital exhibitions. teamLab told Quartz that their new museum addresses what they perceive to be a lack of spaces dedicated just to digital art, and that their museum will allow “visitors to melt into the art and become part of it.” The sprawling 110,000-square-foot museum possesses a maze-like floor plan centered on five spaces. With the aid of nearly 1,000 computers and projectors, along with real time coding, the installations react and respond to visitors, creating a series of shifting and immersive three-dimensional spaces. In total, these spaces will hold approximately 50 alterable works. According to teamLab, the museum’s principal exhibition, Borderless, breaks from curatorial conventions by possessing “no borders with other works,” with the capacity “to leave the installation rooms and move down corridors, communicate with other works, and sometimes fuse with them.” Installations within Borderless, such as Flower Forest and Terraced Rice Field, are designed to encourage visitor exploration across the expansive setting, through spaces of windswept flowers and beneath fabricated lily pads. As their own microcosms, the spaces possess illuminated shelters and hidden alcoves. Within the museum, a significant portion of the exhibitions will focus on creative spaces for children that hone their sense of spatial awareness through the navigation of a multi-sensory environment. Athletics Forest is composed of slopes, peaks and valleys connected by a series of landscape swings, hanging bars and bouncing surfaces. The entire area is illuminated by three-dimensional projections that migrate across the undulating landscape. Located at the center of Athletics Forest is Inverted Globe, a townscape with roads, homes and vegetation that defy gravity by clinging to the steep slopes of the landscape. Since the museum’s installations are digital, they can be continually adapted by teamLab to add new features, such as seasonal changes or entirely new landscapes. Established in 2001, teamLab is known for their bold public installations and interactive exhibitions that invite participation.
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This Japanese collective of designers and programmers is reimagining art, architecture, interactivity

The internet is hotly debating whether 2016 is the year virtual reality goes mainstream: New headset displays like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard may bring immersive digital experiences to the masses. However, Japanese art collective teamLab has long been pursuing its own complex approach to digital environments. Unlike a headset, its interactive installations don’t privilege a single optical perspective. Many encourage you to move around or through them; your actions can even make them morph, mutate, and evolve. TeamLab’s show, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, gathers 20 of its works into a 20,000-square-foot digital interactive art extravaganza.

Founded in 2001, teamLab began with web design but now boasts a 400-member-strong group—which includes animators, programmers, architects, and more— who collaborate on everything from office interiors to software. The work’s whimsy belies its technical complexity: For instance, the LED cloud of Crystal Universe changes its dazzling colors and patterns based on visitors’ movements and a custom app. “The viewer is an active participant and ultimately becomes a part of the artwork,” said teamLab.

The collective also cites what it calls “Ultra Subjective Space” as inspiration: There’s no privileged position to experience its art. The piece Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together–A Whole Year per Hour stretches across the walls of an entire room. Like in Crystal Universe, sensors and software constantly react to your movements, guaranteeing one display—seen from afar or up close—will never be exactly repeated.

Some exhibits go even further. Sketch Town and Sketch Town Papercraft let children color in a paper outline of a car that is then scanned, converted into 3-D, and inserted into a dynamic animated city. There, the children can move their digital cars—and other children’s as well—with their hands. They can even print a paper version of their car and fold it into a toy. “This project aims to encourage children to become aware of what the child next to them is drawing or creating,” said teamLab. “They may come to think it would be more fun to build something together.”

Paradoxically, it’s the art’s shared physical spaces that make teamLab’s virtual realities more social. “As people become part of the same space and artwork, the relationship between self and others changes.”