teamLab’s Digitized Art Illuminating Kairakuen Garden

January 20, 2022



Catherine D. Ong

Tokyo-based art collective teamLab will transform Kairakuan Garden for the upcoming Plum Blossom Festival. The animated art is called “Digitized Kairakuen Garden 2022,” and will run from February 1st to March 31st 2022, on view every night between 18:00 – 20:30 p.m.

Eight individual artwork will comprise the light experience, with the goal to convert the garden’s natural features into art. The artwork will also be interactive, one of which teamLab installed autonomous lights in 1,500 plum trees, causing them to shine brightly and then gradually diminish. The lights in the trees also change color and specific sounds are assigned to different colors.

And then there is the ever blossoming life tree, which is a giant taro cedar. The team installed numerous, animated lights as well to pay tribute to the 800-year-old tree, which could be considered a national treasure. The colorful display of seasonal flowers projected onto the tree’s massive trunk will definitely be a sight to see. The digital art features the life span of the flowers, as they grow and bloom, only to wither and scatter and the cycle repeats all over again.

What is interesting about the exhibition in the giant taro tree is that the artwork not a pre-recorded image that is played back. A computer program is continuously rendering the artwork so it is always changing, and previous visual states are never replicated. The artwork at this moment can never be seen again.

Geometic designs are also among the nightly exhibitions that feature a set of lines generated when someone steps into the area. The forest is transformed into a flat plane. Figures would move along the bamboo garden and lights in the form of brushstrokes would go around the natural spring and begins a chain reaction that expands through the rest of the garden.

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The team aims to turn nature into art through digital technology, by nurturing and enriching it, and not by hurting it. “Humans cannot recognize time longer than their own lifespans,” explains teamLab. “In other words, there is a boundary in our understanding of the long continuity of time. the forms and shapes of nature have been created over many years and have been molded by the interactions between people and nature. we can perceive this long duration of time in these shapes of nature themselves. by using the shapes, we believe we can explore the boundary in our perception of the long continuity of time.”

The Kairakuen Garden was built by a local lord named Tokugawa Nariaki in 1841, which was made available to the public. Kairakuen (偕楽園), which means “park to be enjoyed together,” is located in Mito, the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture. Among the country’s beloved landscape gardens, it is most famous for a forest of 3000 trees of over one hundred different plum tree varieties with white, pink and red blossoms.

Photos and video from teamLab

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