Review on “teamLab Borderless” —２つの”ボーダーレス”を天秤にかけて—
“teamLab Borderless” is an art exhibit in Odaiba, Tokyo that presents a group of art installations about the borders between different artworks and between the artwork and the audience. The digital technology such as image projection and motion capture contributed to its artistic achievement to a great extent. Following the recent trend, it became significantly popular in Tokyo, but at the same time, because of the development of technology, the borderline between the artworks and viewers became rather visible through the act of taking pictures for the sake of virtual community. I visited the exhibit on September 27th, 2018. As I was walking through the premises, I gradually noticed how borderless the art exhibit could be. In a dark space called “Animals of Flowers, Symbiotic”, the colorful images of numerous little flowers were projected on the walls. They were repeatedly growing, blooming, scattering, and changing the scenery without stopping. When the viewers approached the wall, the images are projected onto them as well, making them look like a part of the scenery. Some would spot a few butterflies flying through the flowers. When you touch them, they die. The action of the viewers influences the art piece. Also, some animals such as tigers and kangaroos were projected, too. They strolled slowly to the other rooms while the flowers grew and scattered on them. They connected the different sections beyond the borders, unlike other art exhibits where the viewers have to finish savoring one piece before moving on to the next. As I walked through space with the animals, the space called “Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather” appeared. The image of many small water particles was projected on a large wall. They fell together like a waterfall towards the humps at the bottom. When a person stands on the humps, you can see that the water particles avoid where the person is standing as if the person were a rock under the waterfall. It seems that the butterflies that die when touched and the waterfall that embraces the viewer as a part of the scenery were highlighting this project’s commitment to blurring the borderlines between the different artworks and between the art piece and the audience.
The room called “Forest of Lamps” presented the dissolution of the lines between the audience and the art as well, but it also made me realize that the display for the borderless experience ended up letting the audience build their own borderlines between them and the artworks. In the room, there were many lamps hanging from the ceiling. They were hung at different levels, appearing as though they were floating in the air. The lamps’ colors changed from a warm orange to a mysterious purple, and it was all reflected in the mirrors on the walls, ceiling, and floor. Being reflected, the whole scene looked as though it didn’t have an end. The audience would feel that they are not watching the artworks but are immersed in it when they saw themselves in the mirror with the infinite lamps. When I got in the room after lining up for 30 minutes, I noticed myself and people around me taking out our phones to take photos of the space. The artwork would have been perceived as something we wanted to keep in our photo albums and share with friends. Thanks to network technology, it has become significantly easier to communicate with others regardless of borders. I noticed that visitors were enjoying the infinite lamps with the camera between them and the artworks for the sake of the virtual borderless world. Having phones and SNS in their hands, I would imagine most of the audience were weighing two representations of the borderless. Recently, more and more people have started to look for experiences of immersion and participation. Virtual Reality devices and participatory art installations such as “Hermès Avec Elle” by HERMÈS, and “Sleep No More” in New York are becoming influential more than before. In this light, I would say teamLab Borderless was successful in making that happen with the use of digital technology. However, the other trend of sharing photos and experiences may have led the audience to go back to being behind the screen. Development of digital technology and SNS have greatly influenced what the art could do in society and how the audience enjoys it. This installation would be an essential starting point to reflect that relationship.