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Forest of Gods: Amazing New teamLab Projections in Saga, Kyushu

Graffiti Nature - Creatures Living in Ruins of a Public Bathhouse

Digital art collective teamLab’s enchanting new outdoor interactive digital art experience brings mesmerizing lights, colours and sounds to Saga, Kyushu, southern Japan.

The new installation, entitled A Forest Where Gods Live, sees spacious Mifuneyama Rakuen Park temporarily transformed into an interactive art space for four months from July 14 to October 9, 2017, with atmospheric night-time projections using rocks, trees, ponds and even an abandoned bath house as their canvas.

Mifuneyama Rakuen Park

What to Expect...

Opened in 1845, the park was built over a period of three years as a holiday home garden by Shigeyoshi Nabeshima, the 28th ruler of the Takeo Domain. The sprawling 500,000 sq m garden, towered over by Mt. Mifune for which it is named, is listed as one of Japan’s places of scenic beauty.
 
The new installation sees the park populated by dozens of digitized nature installations, many of which are interactive. It goes beyond the usual boundaries of outdoor art installations - rather than merely exhibiting art in nature, nature itself becomes art. Featured works include a three-metre tall waterfall projected onto a rock and bunches of ever-blossoming flowers projected onto a boulder, as well as several untitled works incorporating projections onto rocks and onto and even between the trees in the forest.

Universe of Water Particles on a Rock in which Resides a God

The Installations

Enso on a Split Rock sees a Zen calligraphic circle projected onto the side of a huge rock which has been split into pieces by the powerful roots of a Japanese maple tree sprouting from the top. “Enso” is the ancient Zen practice of drawing a circle in midair with a cane or a stick or on a surface with a single brush stroke. The circle is said to represent enlightenment, truth, equality, and the entirety of the universe. It also reflects the hearts and minds of those who view it, with its interpretation left up to the individual. 
 
Reflecting this aspect of enso, the brush stroke in teamLab’s artwork is suspended in space but the circle is revealed as the viewer’s viewpoint changes. It is an example of what teamLab terms “Spatial Calligraphy” - a technique the collective has been working on since its formation. A new interpretation of traditional calligraphy, Spatial Calligraphy aims to reconstruct traditional Japanese calligraphy in three-dimensional space, expressing the depth, speed and power of the brush stroke.
 
Resonating Forest with Summer Cherry Blossoms and Summer Maple
 
A forest of 5000 cherry blossom trees and 50,000 azalea bushes are the stars of the twin works Resonating Forest and Resonating Azalea Valley. When visitors approach the trees or bushes their colour changes or is passed on (or “resonated”) from tree to tree, making it possible to track the movement of people in the forest by following the passage of light and colour among the trees. teamLab hopes that by experiencing the resonation installations, “people will become more aware of the existence of other living things in the space they share.”
 
Drawing on the Water Surface is projected directly onto the surface of Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond. Virtual koi carp interact with small boats floating on the pond, gathering when the boats stop and dispersing when they move. Each digital koi is independent and does not have predetermined actions; rather, it reacts according to the movement of the boats and the other koi around it, leaving colourful trails in their wake which form the lines and patterns of the artwork.

Drawing on the Water Surface

In Graffiti Nature - Creatures Living in the Ruins of Bath House, an abandoned bathhouse becomes the setting for a fantasy world populated by creatures drawn by visitors. Visitors draw an animal and send it into the bathhouse before venturing inside to search for their creation among the swarms of colourful virtual lizards, frogs, crocodiles, birds and butterflies roaming the floor.
 
Once inside, visitors interact with the virtual animals in the installation and the virtual animals interact with each other. Animals ‘eat’ other animals or else ‘die’ and disappear; when they eat other animals, they multiply. If visitors step on crocodiles too much the crocodiles ‘die’. If they walk around flowers scatter, but if they stand still flowers bloom around them. Butterflies appear in places with flowers. The intricate interactive experience is intended to show that “all [creatures] are part of one ecosystem”.
 
Graffiti Nature - Creatures Living in Ruins of a Public Bathhouse

A Forest Where Gods Live is part of teamLab’s wider art project Digitized Nature, Digitized City, which explores the possibility of making rural areas as attractive as big cities by using digitization. Rural areas such as Mifuneyama Rakuen Park have wonderful geographical, historical and cultural interest yet are often considered ‘boring’ or obscure’ by people of the modern age or those who lack prior knowledge of their background. Through the project, teamLab seeks to demonstrate that it is possible to add value to these places and make them attractive to visitors through clever use of digital technology.
 
A visit to see the entrancing lights and sounds at Mifune Rakuen would tie in well with visits to take a dip in the famously smooth hot spring waters at nearby Takeo Onsen and Ureshino Onsen; Akita and Imari, two towns famous for their distinctive pottery; and Yutoku Inari Shrine, one of Japan’s top three Inari (fox god) shrines.

Resonating Azalea Valley

When?

July 14 - October 9, 2017
Opening times: July 14th - August 14th 20:00-22:30, August 15th - October 9th 19:30-22:30

Where?

Mifuneyama Rakuen, Takeo 4100, Takeo-cho, Takeo, Saga, Japan

Access

Train: 30-minute walk (or bus - see below) from Takeo-Onsen Station on JR Sasebo Line

Bus: At Takeo-Onsen Station, get on JR Bus bound for Ureshino Onsen. Get off at Mifuneyama Rakuen stop and walk for 1 minute

Car: 10-minute drive from Nagasaki Expressway Takeo-Kitagata IC

How much?

Adults 1600 yen; high school and junior high school students 1200 yen; elementary school students 800 yen; babies and children under school age free

About teamLab

Art collective formed in 2001. teamLab is a collective, interdisciplinary creative group that brings together professionals from various fields of practice in the digital society: artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects, web and print graphic designers and editors. Referring to themselves as "ultratechnologists," the group aims to go beyond the boundaries between art, science, technology and creativity, through co-creative activities.