teamLab Borderless Reopens in Azabudai Hills, Inviting Immersive Exploration That Shines Through Intricate Details

TeamLab Borderless, the digital art museum, has relocated to Azabudai Hills and offers an even more immersive, interconnected, and interactive experience. The 50 independent artworks, including new pieces, are sure to amaze and illustrate the collective’s profound vision.

Since its initial opening, teamLab Borderless has significantly enhanced Tokyo’s allure. The digital art museum has flooded social media feeds, and has set new standards in the digital art sphere by showcasing the potential when art, science, and technology intersect. teamLab Borderless has now relocated to Azabudai Hills, the recently established urban development centered around “Green and Wellness”. Given teamLab’s heavy integration of the natural world in their works, it’s an apt location for the reopening. Visitors can expect to see familiar scenes and also new artworks that are bound to captivate. The Zeromile team had the opportunity to attend a preview tour before teamLab Borderless’ official opening. The following is a recap of the experience, and offers a look into teamLab’s vision, concepts, technology and the questions they aim to explore through their work.

Street View of Azabudai Hills

Ultrasubjective Space

When first approaching the entrance of the digital art museum, the words “teamLab Borderless” appear distorted, but through the use of anamorphosis, the letters begin to align, forming the recognizable logo once you reach a certain vantage point.

teamLab, People Don’t See the World as through a Camera © teamLab

On the wall to the right are the words “People Don’t See the World as through a Camera.” While it may appear as a simple optical illusion, it’s a reference to teamLab’s inception, where the collective explored the notion that when viewing a scene through a lens, the image is fixed, and a barrier is essentially created between the environment and the body. With a desire to understand how humans perceive the world and the relationship between perception and the body, it led to what the collective calls Ultrasubjective Space, which focuses on viewer-centricity. A detailed explanation is available on the teamLab website; however, essentially, people are able to experience a space that can be viewed like a series of flattened images, but it is experienced with the body and continually changes depending on perspective. It’s a profound concept that leaves a lasting impression upon entering and I even found myself trying to snap the perfect picture with the letters lined up. Further down the corridor, as you step into the dark hallways to enter the mapless museum, you’ll notice brightly lit words on the wall: “Wander, Explore, and Discover.” These words serve as a guiding principle on how to conceptualize and approach the artworks in teamLab Borderless and lead me to enter with the intention of not rushing through and taking everything in mindfully.

Immersion, interaction, and Connectedness

Upon entering, you descend a glowing staircase, and after venturing through pathways adorned with floral artworks, you arrive at a large open circular space. Dominated by a rock-like structure at its center, this space hosts four different artworks exhibited at various intervals throughout the day. In the artwork “Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather,” water is simulated, cascading down upon the rock and flowing across the ground beneath your feet.

teamLab, Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather © teamLab

The water’s flow transforms based on people’s interactions. Each person in the room can influence the art space, creating a shared experience and fulfilling teamLab’s goal of creating a space where human interaction not only drives the work but where seeing others’ presence affect the artwork is a beautiful thing. The 360-degree space is fully immersive, with an enchanting soundscape and aromas filling the air for a sensory experience. This early encounter with the artworks sets the tone for ongoing exploration, emphasizing not just immersion and interactivity, but also the intricate details that illustrate the concept of borderlessness.

As I stood in the center of the art space, it felt like being transported to a secluded, tranquil location away from the modern world. You could easily spend hours in the art space taking in the sights, sounds and aromas while simply observing the artwork respond to interactions. If you look up, you’ll notice where the art space walls end and see the supports and projectors and this may bring you back to reality momentarily until your gaze lowers back down and you’re back in the tranquil space. The art space is very calming, and coupled with the soundscape and aroma, the sense of refreshment is akin to spending time by the falls along a nature trail.

Positioned as a world of artworks without boundaries, the barrier between viewer and artwork is removed, and there is a level of interconnectivity where the artworks also intermingle with each other. Small details such as elemental interactions or even birds entering the room and flying across the walls can all appear in other artwork spaces across the digital museum. As you traverse through the museum and recognize previous elements affecting other artwork, it truly builds a sense of a unified, borderless world. Some of the artworks are in enclosed spaces, but seeing how they communicate with each other, I was incredibly impressed and even slightly overwhelmed by the meticulous details aimed at creating a sense of boundlessness.

Humans and Nature

As you move through the corridors and open spaces, you encounter a myriad of artworks that delve into the relationship between humans and nature. In the artwork “Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Hour,” flowers bloom according to the seasons, with the space in constant flux. If people touch or step on the flowers, they shed their petals, wither, and die all at once, while remaining still causes the flowers to grow more abundantly than usual. Inspired by Spring in the Kunisaki Peninsula, teamLab began to ponder how much of the flowers were native to the environment and how much was due to human efforts. They asserted that the great serenity lies in an ecosystem that includes people living with nature rather than in conflict with it. The world around us is constantly changing, with cycles repeating beyond our control. This artwork encourages contemplation of the cycle of life and exploration of the coexistence of nature and humans.

teamLab, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Hour © teamLab

Even though I’d seen this artwork before at the Odaiba location, experiencing it again felt entirely new, especially understanding its underlying concepts. Being surrounded by projections covering the walls and floor was surreal. Watching the flowers bud, bloom, and wither evoked a natural sense of time passing and seasons changing, but it didn’t feel rushed. Despite the narrowness of the art space at times, the mirrored walls are strategically placed, and the reflections are asymmetrical which enhanced the feeling of immersion, as if I were in an endless field of flowers. Taking the time to observe how the artworks interacted with people and how we influenced them made me contemplate the various flowers we encounter throughout the year, both annuals and perennials.

Perception, Cognition, and Existence

Other artworks delve deeper into the notions of perception, cognition, and existence. In one of the new artworks, “Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light,” countless wobbling lights continuously run through a space that seems to infinitely expand due to a complex arrangement of mirrors, lights, and spatial layout.
As the wobbly lights move continuously and illuminate, the entire space, along with the perceived space, is lit up. It’s a mesmerizing display that is part of teamLab’s latest art project, Cognitive Sculpture, which consists of sculptures that do not exist in the physical world but rather in the cognitive world.

teamLab, Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light © teamLab

Similarly, the artwork “Bubble Universe: Physical Light, Bubbles of Light, Wobbling Light, and Environmental Light,” places viewers in a space filled with suspended spheres containing a myriad of lights. Material lights exist within the spheres, both strong and dim, along with lights that move continuously and others in stasis. Once again, the space seems endlessly expansive, and as the spheres light up, the space is fully illuminated, with each sphere glowing akin to an encapsulated galaxy. However, while some of these lights glow from within the spheres, others exist in our perception only through the reflection of countless other lights. It’s a captivating space that highlights that each person has their own perception of the world around them and that through our cognition, things can be brought to life even if not physically present.

teamLab, Bubble Universe: Physical Light, Bubbles of Light, Wobbling Light, and Environmental Light – One Stroke © teamLab

Being in the art space of “Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light” was an entrancing experience, and a personal favorite. Seeing the spheres move around on conveyor belts endlessly and light up in unison was hypnotic. The use of mirrors, polished metal, and a synth-heavy soundscape evoked a sense of being in a sci-fi fantasy and embarking on a voyage through the galaxies. Although similar lights are also used in “Bubble Universe: Physical Light, Bubbles of Light, Wobbling Light, and Environmental Light”, it has a completely different ambiance, and the art space exudes a sense of warmth compared to Microcosmoses. Taking time to observe people causing the spheres to light up one after another, and following the light path as it moves through the art space is a majestic experience. In both of the art spaces it was captivating to stare into the mirrored surfaces both on the walls and floors, and see just how far into the cognitive space I could perceive.

Light Sculptures

In the light sculptures artspace, several artworks run at different intervals and utilize a tunnel of spotlights to project enthralling displays of colors and formations distinct to each artwork. In the “Chromatic Sphere” the lights converge to create an astounding vortex floating in the center of view. As the vortex begins to glow in vivid hues and slowly sways, it becomes a hypnotic yet soothing experience.

The artwork poses the idea that the glowing vortex appears as its own existence despite being made up by beaming lights stemming from the walls, therefore they aren’t different in substance but different in order. It’s another captivating display that highlights the complexities of perception and existence. All these artworks are captivating in their own right and by looking deeper into the concepts behind them, viewers can get a glimpse into the thought process and minds of the teamLab collective and may even have their own profound realizations.

teamLab, Light Vortex © teamLab

Being in the art space of the light sculptures is almost spell-binding. The art pieces are incredible to observe both from afar seeing the outer walls of the tunnel or closer with only the lights in your field of vision. Each of the displays conclude after a few minutes before the next art piece initiates and in that brief moment I would snap back to reality. Although during each display I found myself completely drawn in, and fixated on the formations and colors while losing my sense of time. It’s definitely one of the art spaces that I’m eager revisit and see all the pieces.

The Intersection of Art, Science, Technology, and the Natural World

In teamLab’s bio, it’s stated that the collaborative practice seeks to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, and the natural world. While at first glance, the art and natural world aspects are clearly prevalent, it’s easy to overlook the significance of science and technology. The artwork “Life is an Ephemeral Light that Blooms in Dark” invites viewers into a darkened space filled with suspended monoliths covered in blooming flowers. As people remain stationary, the flowers bloom more abundantly, while scattering and fading away as people approach. The projected visuals are actually generated by complex algorithms that render the images in real-time, responding to the people in the space and their interactions with the art space. The technology behind it allows for the space to be constantly changing and evolving, demonstrating how technology and art can collaborate to bring people closer.

teamLab, Life is an Ephemeral Light that Blooms in the Dark © teamLab

At the entrance of “Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light,” screens display the art space floor plan and its workings in real-time. Along with the complex algorithms written below the floor plan, it illustrates the technical aspects behind it all. The level of interactivity is also further enhanced with the integration of the teamLab app.

The floor plan of “Microcosmoses – Wobbling Light” and its algorithm

As you wander through the art spaces, there are no captions for the artworks; however, with the teamLab app, you can access information behind each artwork and also interact directly with the work, creating and shaping the environment. While the teamLab collective comprises artists, architects, and animators, the finer details and functional facets highlight the collective’s engineers, mathematicians, and programmers who collaborate to create the technical sorcery.

Additionally, the En Tea House provides a variety of specialty teas in a softly lit ambiance, where flowers bloom in your glass and respond to patrons’ presence.

The Sketch Ocean makes a comeback, offering a delightful experience where visitors can bring their sketches to life, while The Sketch House allows guests to commemorate their visit with personalized goods like tees and tote bags. These spaces add an extra layer of interactive enjoyment and offer a unique way to conclude your visit.

A place to re-visit time and again

While TeamLab Borderless offers an amazing experience through passive wandering and observation, there’s an even deeper sense of appreciation and connection when exploring the concepts and underlying themes of the artworks. Given the vastness of the digital art museum and the artworks being exhibited at different intervals throughout the day, it would take considerable time and even multiple visits to observe all 50 independent pieces. Yet, despite the possibility of encountering similar scenes, the art spaces are in constant flux, ensuring no two visits are ever identical. Just like nature, the art spaces continue to evolve, echoing the sentiment of the words displayed at the entrance: “Everything exists in infinite continuity And continuity itself is beautiful.”

As I left and this message was reiterated, it made me contemplate this sentiment and how it applies to the natural world and also to teamLab Borderless. Knowing that the art spaces are constantly changing and evolving, in a sense, you can revisit the digital art museum just like you would revisit beaches or hiking trails. Whether it’s to unwind and enjoy the artworks, escape your normal settings and enter a dream-like world for a day, or even contemplate deeper themes and questions.

A message when entering and a sentiment to contemplate when leaving

Whether exploring solo, with friends, or even strangers, visiting TeamLab Borderless is an enchanting experience that can be revisited time and again. TeamLab expressed their hope that the exhibit would prompt people to reconsider their relationship with nature and the world. With its reopening in Azabudai Hills, the boundaryless museum offers an even more immersive, interactive, and connected experience that’s sure to ignite social media feeds. There is so much more to explore beyond what has been covered so far, including new artworks and previous artworks with new facets, making it an experience not to be missed and worth physically immersing oneself in. With its many intricacies, it firmly embodies TeamLab’s vision and provides plenty to observe, enjoy, and contemplate. Both first-timers and repeat visitors will leave with a sense of awe after wandering, exploring, and discovering.

Mori Building Digital Art Museum: Epson TeamLab Borderless
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Vince Lee

Vince, originally from Perth, Australia, is currently based in Tokyo, Japan. With a curiosity about life and the world, Vince is fascinated by how our world is shaped by drawing from the past or looking to the future. He enjoys spending time at record bars, art museums, and by the sea or mountains, indulging his interest in culture, music, and the natural world.