Get Lost in a World of Wonder: TeamLab PLANETS

  • ART
  • CULTURE
  • Tokyo
  • Tokyo is a vision of the future, so it is only fitting that some of the world’s most stunning digital art museums are here. Located in Odaiba, Tokyo is Teamlab’s Borderless exhibit and in Toyosu, Tokyo is the PLANETS exhibit. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing the PLANETS digital art museum. Calling it a museum does not do justice in describing how incredible this place is. It is a fully immersive and interactive digital art exhibition that explores the relationship between humans and nature. Using digital technology, Teamlab was able to break the boundaries of art and nature and let people experience the world from a new perspective.

    Teamlab is an art collective, it has put together exhibits like PLANETS all over the world, in Australia, the United States, Istanbul, and Japan. However, these places are rare because there are less than 10 in the world making them highly sought after places to visit. To create just one exhibit it takes a team of artists, programmers, engineers, animators, mathematicians, and architects.

    The museum is fully interactive and allows goers to walk their own path through the exhibit. You can spend as much or as little time in an area as you want, Teamlab created a space for people to be free to move as they please. The exhibit also focuses on using your sense of touch rather than sight. Most of the spaces are dark Each space is different from the previous one, but they all are a part of the same theme of art and nature.

    Drawing Water Surface

    You are truly immersed in the art in this room because you are literally standing in the art. In this entire space, you are walking through knee-high water. The digital art is projected onto the surface of the wadding pool and reacts to your movement. Images of colorful koi fish and flowers are shown to give the illusion of walking through a pond. The fish will react to your movement by swimming away and disappearing when you get close, then pop up on the other side of the room.

    Author’s photo

    The walls are all mirrored to make the space and pond seem infinite. Being in this space took me back to my childhood and reminded me of the fish in Fantasia, the ones that glittered and changed color.

    A word of advice though, to go through this part of the exhibit you need to be able to roll your pants above your knee. I had worn a pair of tighter jeans that couldn’t be rolled that much so I was asked to change into some shorts they provide for people.

     

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    While I thought putting on the shorts would ruin my outfit and ultimately my pictures, it really didn’t matter in the end. I was so captivated by the experience I ended up taking more pictures of the exhibit than of myself in it.

    Infinite Crystal Universe

    This room is probably the most iconic room. If you search Teamlab on Instagram almost half of the pictures you will see will be of this room. From floor to ceiling it is thousands of strings of crystal looking LED lights.

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    It can be slightly disorientating at first because the entire room, floor, walls, and ceiling, are made of mirrors. Then add in all the strings of light and this room literally looks infinite. The lights go through a series of changing colors, bright white, purples, pinks, teals, and eventually turning dark for a few moments with only a few still flickering to mimic a starry night sky.

     

     

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    For me, this was the most fairytale-like room. It felt like I was walking through a magic forest, something you could maybe find in Alice in Wonderland. I kept saying to my friend, “I never want to leave this room”.

     

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    Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers

    This room was truly the most otherworldly of them all. You walk in, and again the floors are all mirrors but the ceiling is a dome where the digital art is projected onto.

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    A series of different flowers are shown, one type after other. Sunflowers, carnations, roses, and many others. They would float and fall across the dome ceiling and be reflected in the mirrored floor. It gave the illusion of floating, the whole room was dark and black except for the flowers falling around you at every angle.

     

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    Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence

    The most whimsical room, and the easiest to get lost in. It is filled with giant plastic bubbles. Even though they are huge, taller than most people, they are extremely lightweight. You can push your way around them easily and you can even bounce them on your head if you find yourself underneath one.

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    I really did end up getting lost in this room. Unable to see the walls and have no sense of direction I ended up walking in circles trying to leave the room, but that is part of the experience, to get lost in the art.

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    Waterfall of Light

    This is one of the smaller pieces of art, not even needing a whole room. It is the first thing you see after walking through the dark hallways to enter the exhibit. You walk through water up and incline while water is rushing down and this piece acts as the light at the end of the tunnel.

     

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    Cold Life

    Another small piece, it only takes up one little room. It is right after the water room, so to see this art piece you are still wading through the water. The rooms with water allow digital art to be reflected in the water just like the other rooms with mirrored floors.

    There is one bench to sit on to look at the art if you want. Most people walked in and out of this room pretty quickly because it is so small, but I think it was the most intimate room. 

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    Soft Black Hole

    The comfiest room by far because the entire floor is a giant bean bag. The lighting is extremely dimmed and the walls are all black, you are essentially forced to feel your way around.
    The best part of this room was just letting myself fall freely into the beanbag.

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    Teamlab Planets is one of the most creative and inspiring places I’ve ever been, and if you ever have the chance to go to one of its locations, well, don’t pass up the opportunity.