Team Lab, Borderless in Tokyo
Talking about a show, a movie or a museum is always challenging. Translating these emotions in words is even more difficult, especially when visiting the digital exhibition Borderless by Team Lab. I remember the first time I saw one of their works, at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills: The universe and Art: Princess Kaguya, Leonardo da Vinci. Many years have passed since then, but that energy has remained intact in my mind. And that's still the case after visiting Borderless. When I entered the installation in Odaiba, I already imagined what awaited me. I had seen a thousand photos posted on the web and listened to the stories of friends who had visited it before. Nevertheless, I could never imagine finding myself in something so unexpected and inspiring. The music, the colors, the lights: every detail was perfect.
I felt like a child who didn't want to get off the rides. I would have stayed there for hours and hours, redone all the rooms, again and again. I tried to capture every little detail of that experience. I wanted those colors and lights to be imprinted in my mind and listen to that music again and again. Even today, when I look at the photos taken there, I feel completely transported to that place, and I want to go back. Borderless cannot be explained: you have to experience it physically.
Founded in 2001 in Tokyo by Toshiyuki Inoko, Team Lab includes artists, architects, animators, graphic designers, mathematicians, engineers and programmers. Together they collaborate to create new experiences through experimentation in collective creation, hence the name Team Lab. In 2001 their first installation for Shiseido in Ginza, The First Light X'mas 2001. From that moment, a broad series of exhibitions enthroned Team Lab as leaders in the world of digital shows. Focused on technology and art, their exhibits stimulate the visitor by involving all five senses.
One of their most notable performances is undoubtedly Borderless. Inaugurated in 2018, the digital show was supposed to be temporary, but it became extremely viral to the point that it turned into a permanent collection. The exhibition's main objective is to eliminate the boundary between people and art, allowing the visitor to become part of the show itself, without limits, without borders.
As soon as you enter the building, you enter a new dimension where everything is surreal: BORDERLESS WORLD is the first step. You are catapulted into a sequence of artworks, where flowers and butterflies invade your body, you are immersed in a waterfall, you walk in a field of flowers. When you enter the first space, you perceive a sense of freedom. There are no walls, no directions to follow: the feelings only guide you. Lights, sounds and colors guide you inside the rooms. The installations interact with visitors and always generate different experiences.
The artworks stimulate your mind to the point that you can't get out of that place. You would like to touch those flowers and smell them; get wet from the waterfall that slowly descends from the wall; fly with the birds and butterflies surrounding you.
ATHLETICS FOREST is the second area, divided into various spaces where you can climb or walk on wooden planks, enter a forest of light-emitting balloons, go down a hill and meet unique animals. In Aerial Climbing room, you can walk on wooden planks held up by ropes. The axes are interconnected, and their movement of each affects all the others. When a person passes from one axis to another, the birds fly in space and change color. The images are not pre-recorded but are created by people's movements, and the scenes change interactively.
The WEIGHTLESS FOREST OF RESONATING LIFE is a three-dimensional space filled with objects with emitting light. You are catapulted into this space with elastic shapes that move and change color. The uniqueness of these objects lies in the fact that, if they turn over, the colour changes and emits a sound. As a result, other nearby items cast the same colour and the same sound, enveloping you with sound and light effects resonating like waves.
FUTURE PARK is an educational space, where the concept of reciprocal creativity applies. In this space, you can freely create your amusement park, giving vent to the creative impulses of adults and children. It is a space where children can play, and adults can remember when they were children. The Sketch Aquarium is a place for imagination. Here you can colour the fishes with crayons, scan them and magically find your drawing on the big screen, thus creating an aquarium customized by visitors.
Entirely realized in Murano glass, the FOREST OF LAMP has an exciting feature. While in the other works, you can perceive immediate feedback; in this space, you are immersed in something that at first glance, you cannot grasp. Approaching a lamp, you notice that it begins to glow with intense light. The one next to it emits the same colour. You look around little by little, and you are immersed in a space that resonates with the same light, the same colour. Each lamp is influenced by the first, which becomes the starting point of the paint. The lamps' arrangement seems casual, but there is a well-defined trajectory, which generates the influence of one light towards the other. The work is a metaphor for how space can change and adapt through the movement of people.
In the EN TEA HOUSE, you approach the world of Japanese Tea, with an exciting variation that makes this experience unique. A suggestive atmosphere envelops you, a darkened room with long black tables. Here you can enjoy four types of Tea: iced, green with yuzu, green and roasted green with chamomile. Take a bottle of Tea, open it slightly and savour its aroma. Now sit down at the table. Give the container to the staff. Wait until the Tea is ready, and they serve it to you. When the Tea is poured into the cup, you will begin to see small flowers blooming one after the other, and magically the flower will scatter on the table. This attraction combines all five senses in a synesthetic experience that you will never forget.
The works of Team Lab are so appealing due to their ability to stimulate the senses. This sensitive approach is inspired by the so-called "Snoezelen" method. Experimented since the early seventies by two Dutch therapists - Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul - the Snoezelen therapy acts on the stimulation of the senses using light sources, tactile surfaces, music and aromas. In Borderless, Team Lab has managed to break down the boundaries of art by integrating a therapy to heal the mind. Nowadays, the human brain is facing challenging times. Borderless is a gift for our minds, a place to get closer to ourselves through the senses, those senses that we often forget to listen.