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Digital art group plants forest of light and color on Tokyo Bay

First permanent teamLab exhibit in Japan immerses you in a 'borderless world'

The teamLab-Mori Building collaboration features 50 interactive artworks in a 10,000-sq.-meter space. (Photo by Tokuyuki Matsubuchi)

TOKYO -- A Tokyo-based creative collective that has wowed crowds as far away as Italy and the U.S. has made a new splash at home, opening its first permanent exhibition of immersive digital art in Japan.

The group, teamLab, on Thursday opened a 10,000-sq.-meter space in the Odaiba area -- a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. Fifty interactive works are spread across five zones, displayed using around 520 computers and 470 projectors. The visuals are beamed onto the floor and walls in otherwise dark rooms, making visitors feel as if they are part of the art. Numerous sensors track visitors' movements, prompting color and design changes.

The exhibit, called the Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless, is the collective's biggest installation yet. The group opened a permanent 1,500-sq.-meter installation at Singapore's ArtScience Museum in March 2016, and has also held exhibits in Milan, Taiwan, New York, Seoul and other cities.

While few museums are devoted solely to digital art, the Odaiba exhibit gives teamLab enough space to create a "borderless world of art," founder Toshiyuki Inoko said at the opening ceremony on Thursday morning.

"People move freely with their bodies, form connections and relationships with others, and recognize the world through their bodies," he said. "Artworks can transcend boundaries, influence and sometimes intermingle with each other."

The project is a collaboration with urban developer Mori Building, which owns the site.

"Digital art is today's cutting-edge modern art, which has been made possible by the rapid evolution of technologies," said Shingo Tsuji, Mori Building's president and CEO. "We hope everyone will enjoy this first and only museum of its kind, an unprecedented world of digital art, during Tokyo's exciting run-up to 2020," he added, referring to the fast-approaching Olympics.

From left, Mori Building CEO Shingo Tsuji and teamLab founder Toshiyuki Inoko attend the opening ceremony on June 21. (Photo by Eri Sugiura)

"Borderless World," one of the main zones showing new teamLab works, surrounds visitors with projections of flowers and plants. Leaves and petals fall when visitors touch or walk on them but bloom again when they stop. Over in the "teamLab Athletics Forest," visitors can climb or bounce on a trampoline. And in "En Tea House," one can make Japanese tea and watch a digital flower bloom in the cup.

The admission fee for adults aged 15 and up is 3,200 yen ($29).

"I feel like I got lost in a forest," said Jason Metcalfe, a 33-year-old Canadian tourist. "The artworks connect us to nature in a digital way, which is pretty cool."

Seira Kondo, a 21-year-old Tokyoite, said she was amazed by "the creation of another world from the one we live in."

Worldwide, teamLab exhibits have attracted a total of over 6 million people. The collective is currently holding a show in Paris.

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