teamLab is a collective of 400 people who are computer programmers, engineers, graphic designers, mathematicians, physicists, architects, etc.. All young at heart and many of them young in human years, too. teamLab is a gathering of the smartest people you’ve never met but their work will leave you breathless and begging for more. This community of carefree geniuses makes art using technology as basic material. Yes, teamLab has its own one of a kind magician’s hat that never runs out of tricks because of scientific knowledge. Their art works communicate strong feelings by making good use of cutting edge technology. Doable for science and art to coexist so seamlessly and have a meaningful impact? Of course! Take a look at teamLab’s Floating Flower Garden and you’ll have the answer.
We spoke with Takashi Kudo, one of the founding members of teamLab who was quick to point out that hierarchy plays no role in teamLab’s mode d’emploi. With a strong background in philosophy and literature himself, he says teamLab as a big circle of collaborators who see eye to eye and respect each other’s view points and strengths. They feed off each other’s energy to create beautiful work that makes sense to them and others around the world.
Takashi Kudo mentions with gratitude Takashi Murakami’s support of teamLab to get well deserved recognition for their amazing talent and art. We should all be thankful to Takashi Murakami who helped teamlab by introducing them to the world outside Japan.
teamLab make great use of the rich Japanese culture and presents it to the modern world in a way that is easy to understand, follow, embrace. But at the same time, teamLab love the world and look forward to present their work everywhere. In fact, they were represented at Pace Gallery in New York last summer. They currently have an exhibition going on in Miami. Their exhibition in Paris, at the beginning of this year, has generated much deserved attention for them. In fact, they will be representing the Japanese pavilion in Milan’s Expo starting this week.
So does teamLab pick and choose its subjects? Sometimes, a project is dictated by space. But in most cases, everything starts with a concept or an idea. Then technology and the digital world work around it to make art, to replicate beauty behind the scenes.
Science is not scary. Science is beautiful. It helps communicating and building bridges between cultures, different time capsules, and so forth. In ancient cultures like Japanese, the cultural opportunities to learn something from the past in order to make sense of the present and look forward to the future are endless. teamLab say that presenting their interpretation of Japanese culture comes easy and natural. They grew up with it. They get it. At the same time, they don’t want to sound bombastic or preachy in any way. teamLab choose honest in saying what they know and understand. The Floating Flower Garden started as an idea about two years ago. It was put aside for this or that reason. In the beginning, someone thought it to be too lavish, another thought it would take too much time, too much money, too much energy. It needed time to sink in and resurface with the power to grasp the attention of enough teamLab members to generate life to it.
Now, the two year old idea is alive with all its glory.
teamLab has dedication and love for nature and flowers. So, they decided to grow orchids on their rooftops and worked out the technological and design details to create the amazing work that is the Floating Flower Garden. Some of the magical points of this art installation are just absolutely natural including the different smell of different orchids. 60 different types of orchids and 2340 orchids in total smell differently change their smell from morning hours to the late night, have their tricks to charm insects for pollen, make the atmosphere evolving and the energy to be never the same.
The Floating Flower Garden was meant as a creation that ruled the space it would be in. The aim was for it to have an effect similar to something else that’s absolutely necessary, like breathing air. People would need to see it and be captivated by it instantly. The interface would need to be simple yet capable to communicate with the viewers. And they absolutely achieved their goals.
teamLab turned to fundamental ideas in Zen for direction. How can we as humans be more synchronized with nature? How can we find harmony and peace?
There is a Zen kōan (a question or story that is part of a Zen priests theological training) called, “Nansen’s Flower”. A man named Rikukô Taifu, while talking with Nansen, said, “Jô Hoshi says, ‘Heaven and I are of the same root. All things and I are of the same substance.’ How wonderful this is!”. Nansen, pointing at a flower in the garden said, “People of these days see this flower as if they were in a dream.”
Beauty, passion, love, all that and more can be offered by flowers, especially by orchids, which from practical point of view, do not even need soil. teamLab show their dedication and love for nature and flowers with their decision to grow orchids on their own rooftop. In their “labs” they worked out the technological and design details to create the amazing work that is the Floating Flower Garden.
Last but not least, it is impossible not to be captivated by the music for Floating Flower Garden. teamLab has worked with the same composer for most of their projects. Hideaki Takahashi. He is the composer of playful sounds sprucing up the magic created by Floating Flower Garden. Hideaki Takahashi is a good friend of teamLab tested through thick and thin and most importantly he understands and can deliver the perfect sound to their interactive projects. Hideaki Takahashi is a talented composer on his own right. But he also loves a good challenge and making music that is interactive and complements the amazing art teamLab makes through technology. Mutual respect and understanding for cross disciplinary collaborations that amaze people around the world, hopefully to a gallery or museum near you, soon enough.