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teamLab, 21st Century “Cave Painters”

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[Jakarta, LTTW] There’s an online discussion going on at Listen to the World about environmental deterioration caused by human behavior and how we should respond. If we look upon what we’ve been through so far, we can conclude that humans have a problem living as a part of nature.

While many of us still practice a relationship in which nature and human are going in separate ways, in Japan there’s a digital art group who acts otherwise.

teamLab and Digital Art

teamLab consists of interdisciplinary group of ultra-technologists ranging from artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians to architects seeking to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, design, and the natural world.

According to its official website, “teamLab believes that the digital domain can expand the capacities of art, and that digital art can create new relationships between people.” They stated that digital art provides human with a greater degree of autonomy within space – to use and manipulate it much more freely. Moreover, in an interaction with the environment within space, viewers can instigate perpetual change in an artwork through interactive relationship between them and the artwork.

In our view, teamLab isn’t just trying to push the boundaries of digital art, but also re-connecting relationship between human, environment (natural world, urban, etc.), and technology.

In one of many teamLab’s interactive digital installations, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together, 2014 highlights on how human can never be able to control nature, but can live together or cohabitating in Sacred Bridge foundation’s term.

“The boundary between the work of nature and the work of humans is extremely vague. Rather than nature and humans being in conflict, a healthy ecosystem is an ecosystem that includes people. Unlike people of today, people in the past lived on the assumptions that humans cannot grasp nature in its entirety, and that it is not possible to control nature. These people, who lived for a long time more closely aligned to the rules of nature, perhaps created this comfortable natural environment.”

And in Digitized Nature, Digitized City (teamLab’s art project) they stated that since digital technologies are non-material objects, it has no physical impact. Thus, nature can be turned into art without harming them, and cities can be turned into art without changing anything physical – maintaining the infrastructure of the city.

Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats (2015), one of the featured works of Digitized Nature, Digitized City

“No longer does art need to be exhibited in nature; rather nature itself becomes art. Similarly art need not be exhibited in the city, but parts of the city itself can become art. We can then expand this concept, with an entire city becoming a huge artistic space without disruption to its normal functions.”

Tokushima Digitized City Art Nights – Luminous Forest and River (2016), one of the feature works of Digitized Nature, Digitized City

To us, this digital art is 21st century’s “cave painting” showing that human and nature is one using natural park and urban settings as the venues.

Real Vs “Digitized” Nature

teamLab’s approach is vital in promoting harmonious living between human and nature, especially in a time when we live so distant from nature. We should keep in mind, however, our relationship with nature must be physical and non-physical, not just virtual.

It’s noteworthy that while our awe toward all things digital is increasing, our concern and sensitivity to nature is decreasing, and this affects the way we appreciate nature. What teamLab does is extraordinary, but they must ensure that their objective – in this case is to signify nature in human life – is achieved. It is our hope that the outcome of this attempt will not be more appreciation on digital world and much less on nature.

Nature has possessed beauty since the beginning of time. Its beauty is forever far beyond the reach of humankind, let alone the digital world.  Nature has displayed its phenomenal and majestic “power” over millennia whether we are aware of it. Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), White Nights, Thunderstorm, Volcanic Eruption, Tornado, Change of Seasons, and Sand Dunes are examples that perhaps can recharge our memories on how mesmerizing the nature is.

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)


If we look at the above video and pictures (and for those who have been fortunate to witness these natural phenomena), we know that humankind can never do what nature does, no matter how advance our technology is. So we expect that spectators who experience the teamLab’s exhibition would also come to this conclusion, nothing less.

If you’re curious about teamLab’s digital installations, you should check their ongoing exhibitions Light Festival in Fukuoka Castle Ruins at Maizuru Park, Fukuoka, Japan, from December 1, 2017 until January 28, 2018. Another one worth noting is Future World: Where Art Meets Science at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – and many more!

Check out the schedule of their upcoming exhibitions here.


Source: TeamLab’s official website.

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Author: Web Admin

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4 years ago

Good job teamLab, such an inspiring work of art! However, I’m quite disagree if nature turns into and becomes art. Knowing that nature has been one of the major sources of art (visual expression to be more precisely) since the beginning of time, it means nature is beyond art. Nature leads art, not the other way round.

For example in Digitized Nature, once again, thanks to its surrounding (nature) makes the digital installation extraordinary.

All in all, i really want to experience the teamLab’s installation:)

4 years ago

Natural splendours always remind me of how small I am, and make me wonder how the creator did it…deepest gratitude to be alive in this beautiful world.