A Review of teamLab: Transcending Boundaries at Pace Gallery, London
Established in 2001, the ‘Ultra Technologists’, teamLab, are a Japanese tech-art collective working within the digital realm seeking to ‘transcend physical and conceptual boundaries.’ The interdisciplinary group includes professional animators, graphic designers and artists as well as mathematicians. It was established by Toshiyuki Inoko, who states; 'In order for ideas and concepts to be expressed in the real world it is necessary to have a physical material substance through which they are mediated. We are seeking to eliminate these boundaries.'
team Lab’s immersive exhibition Transcending Boundaries, on show at Pace Gallery London, reflects their unique artistic approach to forging new relationships between art, science, technology and creativity. By using the digital domain as a key element of their practice, TeamLab produce works of art that connect and flow from one to the other. As they state in their manifesto (of sorts); “Digital technology allows art to break free from the frame … Elements from one work can fluidly interact with and influence elements of the other works exhibited in the same space. In this way, the boundaries between art pieces dissolve.”
As soon as the viewer steps out of the bustle of Burlington Gardens and into Pace Gallery, they are led through blackout curtains into the first of four rooms. LED screens take over the gallery walls and floor, projecting images of waterfalls, flowers and butterflies. Accompanied by what can best be described as a euphoric yet calming, soundtrack, flowers bloom and wither as the audience interacts with each work.
Most of the installations in show invite the viewer to interact with the visuals they produce. Take the third room, for example. Here one is invited to stand or sit in what appears to be a blacked out room. Once settled in a stillness, flowers slowly start to appear over your body, projected from above. Gradually flower chains grow and form connections between the other individuals who have found stillness in the room. Each visual state reacts to the participant's individual movements and cannot be replicated, thus making one's interaction with the work a totally unique and separate experience. At the same time it affirms the group's interest in changing the way in which we interact with other spectators, as they seek to make the presence of others a positive experience within the exhibition space.
Whilst the group strive to dissolve boundaries between the art and spectator by working with modern technology, they continue to draw inspiration from ancient Japanese practice. This is evidenced by their interpretation of the Enso, the Zen practice of drawing a circle with a single brushstroke. Since forming the team have been working on spatial calligraphy, reconstructing the Enso by applying three dimension to the circle as a means of expressing its power and depth. A video of this adaptation is showcased on a large screen in the first room, adding to the hypnotic and tranquil atmosphere.
By transforming traditional techniques through the use of digital technology, the team have created an original art form that sets them apart from others in the contemporary art world. Transcending Boundaries offers an alternative universe to the hectic one we all know far too well. The opportunity to enter into a space that provides a form of escapism through sensory experience is not one to be passed up, and the show's sell out status - with a waiting list of 5,000 - testifies to its appeal. Open until March 11th, the private Arteviste tour will be held on Wednesday 22nd February
Written by Lara Monro, a Contributor to Arteviste.