A New teamLab Exhibition at One of the ‘Three Great Gardens’ of Japan Aims to Connect Visitors With the Bounties of Nature

Our Show of the Week: Empathy Edition emphasizes the porous boundaries between people and the natural world.

teamLab, Autonomous Resonating Life and Resonating Giant Cedar Forest (2021). © teamLab. Interactive digital installation, endless, sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

In these turbulent times, creativity and empathy are more necessary than ever to bridge divides and find solutions. Artnet News’s Art and Empathy Project is an ongoing investigation into how the art world can help enhance emotional intelligence, drawing insights and inspiration from creatives, thought leaders, and great works of art. 


What the collective says: “teamLab’s art project, ‘Digitized Nature,’ explores how nature can become art. The concept of the project is that non-material digital technology can turn nature into art without harming it. Humans cannot recognize time longer than their own lifespans. 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.”

Why it’s worth a look: Japan’s Kairakuen Garden, which is lauded as one of the three great gardens of Japan, was created in 1842 at the end of the Edo Period. The botanical park is built around a pond and boasts 3,000 plum trees of more than 100 varieties that explode into stunning blooms in the spring.

In this already exquisite environment, experiential collective teamLab’s new installation plunges visitors into a multi-sensory experience that uses colored light to transform the garden into a mystical botanical wonderland.

How it can be used as an empathy workout: Part of teamLab’s purpose is to help visitors experience the organic beauty of the natural world by enhancing their connection to it. Spending time in nature increases one’s spatial awareness, understanding for how actions can directly affect the world around, and learning things outside of one’s typical day-to-day. Nature truly is a metaphor for how to practice compassion and empathy toward other people and living things. Using colored lights that are responsive to the ebb and flow of a visitor’s presence, the collective uses technology as an innovative way to—literally—shine a light on the garden’s unique landscape.

The art installation is sensitive to its inhabitants, and responds to them as individuals in order to create the most fulfilling experience. The exhibition only takes place at night, which enhances the dramatic lightscapes as they illuminate the centuries-old trees in various stages of bloom.

What it looks like:

teamLab, Life is Continuous Light - Plum Trees (2021). © teamLab. Interactive Digitized Nature, Sound: teamLab.

teamLab, Life is Continuous Light – Plum Trees (2021). © teamLab. interactive digitized nature, sound: teamLab.

teamLab, <i>Life is Continuous Light - Plum Trees</i> (2021). © teamLab.

teamLab, Life is Continuous Light – Plum Trees (2021). © teamLab. Interactive digitized nature, sound: teamLab.

teamLab, Abstract and Concrete – Between Yin and Yang (2021). © teamLab. Interactive digitized nature, sound: teamLab.

teamLab, <i>Walk, Walk, Walk - Moso Bamboo Forest </i> (2021). © teamLab. Digital Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi, Voices: Yutaka Fukuoka, Yumiko Tanaka.

teamLab, Walk, Walk, Walk – Moso Bamboo Forest (2021). © teamLab. Interactive digital installation, endless, sound: Hideaki Takahashi. Voices: Yutaka Fukuoka, Yumiko Tanaka.

teamLab, <i>Ever Blossoming Life Tree -Giant Taro Cedarr</i> (2021). © teamLab. Digitized Nature, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

teamLab, Ever Blossoming Life Tree -Giant Taro Cedar (2021). © teamLab. Digitized nature, sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

teamLab, <i>Enso in the Natural Spring - Togyokusen </i> (2021). © teamLab. Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

teamLab, Enso in the Natural Spring – Togyokusen (2021). © teamLab. Digital installation, sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

teamLab, Resonating Pine and Azalea (2021). © teamLab. Interactive digital installation, endless, sound: Hideaki Takahashi.

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