Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Digital Art and Borderless Experiences

During a recent trip to Japan, I visited the Mori Building Digital Art Museum to see the teamLab Borderless gallery. teamLab is a Japanese digital art collective with temporary and permanent exhibitions in select cities throughout the world. 

The museum is unlike any art museum I’ve ever visited. It is very dark, calming electronic music fills its maze of hallways, and the art is truly borderless: it moves across the walls, ceilings, floors, and the visitors themselves. This constant immersion into the art was a truly unique experience. For instance, while you can view Van Gogh’s Sunflowers series at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, at Borderless, you are the canvas upon which digital sunflowers take root and grow.

There are multiple rooms with different interactive activities, including a space-bathed trampoline, a floating nest for visitors to view the art, and rooms of raining crystals, floating lanterns, and giant colorful balloons. Unlike most museums, visitors are encouraged to touch and interact with the artwork, and visitors can take photographs of the art and themselves in or as part of the exhibitions. Indeed, the permissibility of mobile phone photographs is one of the reasons the art gallery has exploded in popularity as its “Instagrammability” is a draw for many users who are keen to share their experiences with others. 

Digital art is not new, but, as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art states, “[d]igital is simply the newest medium artists have discovered in their quest to tell their stories constrained only by the limits of the imagination.” Exhibitions and galleries like teamLab’s, combined with their interactivity and accommodation to photo-taking and social media sharing trends could make digital art museums a prevalent and attractive offering in many cities. Further, digital art could very well change how we think about art museums as our experience morphs from removed spectator into a borderless one. 

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