Photographs of teamLab’s art installations are plentiful. On Instagram, the various hashtags – #teamlab, #teamlabborderless, #teamlabplanets – have amassed over one million posts. And rightly so: they are colourful and captivating, glimmering dreamlands that exude excitement and wanderlust. As a result, the international art collective’s Planets is high on many Tokyo “must-see” lists. The reality of visiting is likely to exceed expectations. It is as mesmerising as it looks online. Crucially, though, it reaches beyond social media likes and shares, encouraging audiences to think about their place in the world. Visitors are prompted to not only take pictures but to reconnect with their bodies, nature and other human beings.
The museum offers an all-encompassing sensory experience. Attendees walk barefoot, stand knee-deep in water, play with bouncing balls, smell a mass of floating flowers. Many artworks change upon interaction with people. In Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity, for example, projections of koi carp can be found swimming on the surface of a seemingly infinite pool, dissipating into cherry blossoms when they collide with hands, legs and feet. The piece is rendered by computers in real time; previous visual states are unable to be replicated and will never reoccur. As a result, there’s a palpable sense of magic as fish surround you and warm water laps against rolled-up trousers.
Floating Flower Garden and Moss Garden of Resonating Microcosms also ask audiences to think about their relationships with living things. The former comprises an array of suspended orchids, which grow without soil by absorbing water from the air. People sit beneath the delicate canopy as it ebbs and flows – alive, growing and blooming each day. Elsewhere, Moss Garden invites encounters with alien-like “ovoids”. Curved mirrored pods sit amongst moss and mist, evoking English marshland or Iceland’s geothermal landscape.
Perhaps most well-known is The Infinite Crystal Universe, a beautifully disorientating light and sound sculpture which extends as far as the eye can see. Visitors are likely to get lost in this dazzling maze, which continuously changes colour and pattern as people navigate its endless spaces, take pictures and look around in awe. Movement and interaction are at the heart of teamLab: Planets. As you struggle to traverse the undulating floor of Soft Black Hole – Your Body Becomes a Space that Influences Another Body, for example, you might make eye contact with a stranger – laughing as you fall over and crawl towards the exit.
planets.teamlab.art/tokyo | Until end of 2023
Words: Eleanor Sutherland
1. teamLab, Floating Flower Garden: Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One, 2015, Interactive Kinetic Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery
2. teamLab, Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity, 2016-2018, Interactive Digital Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery
3. teamLab, Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space – Flattening 3 Colors and 9 Blurred Colors, Free Floating, 2018, Interactive Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery