【Vol.08】Contemporary matsuri using digital technology invites visitors to wander, explore, and discover

An unprecedented museum
transcending boundaries

Tokyo’s Odaiba area is home to a museum where nearly half of the visitors are foreign tourists. Quite a few of them make a special trip to Japan just to come here. On the day of my visit, people of diverse nationalities were viewing each artwork with excitement, but not in the way they might at an ordinary museum. This place is different. It’s an interactive art museum that encourages the visitors themselves to wander, explore, and discover.

The museum is called teamLab Borderless. It’s the brainchild of teamLab, an art collective whose collaborative practices seek to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, design, and the natural world. Formed by the likes of artists, programmers, engineers, computer graphics animators, mathematicians, and architects, the interdisciplinary organization carries out boundary-transcending activities that are garnering worldwide attention.

Since its opening in June 2018, teamLab Borderless has presented a world of art that uses digital technology to stimulate the senses of sight and hearing. The works that zoom by are themed around the sea, the mountain, the river, fire, and water, reflecting an animistic worldview in which humans and nature mix and mingle. The search for new relationships between humans and nature, and between each of us and the world, is a signature of teamLab.

A world with no boundaries,
not even between the artwork and the visitors

Another feature of teamLab Borderless is that it’s a museum without a map, created by the borderless art collective. Here, individual artworks intermingle with and influence one another. Many of them are interactive digital installations that continue to change in response to the visitor‘s touch. Some are based on standard activities like playground games, climbing, and drawing, and invite the visitor to play and have fun while building new relationships with the artwork.

Photography is allowed (but not flash photography or the use of tripods), so naturally, many visitors take pictures of the artwork and share them on social networking sites. But try though visitors might to share their experiences, the artworks are in a state of constant flux, meaning the same experience cannot be shared twice. In other words, teamLab Borderless is a museum of one-offs, where only those who make that special trip can experience the artworks at any given moment in time.

In essence, matsuri festivals and bon odori dancing are also boundary-transcending. They nullify attributes like gender, age, and nationality, and sometimes obliterate the boundaries between performer and visitor, and even between the living and the dead. In similarly seeking to transcend boundaries, teamLab Borderless can be described as a contemporary festival using digital technology. Step into teamLab Borderless, an ethereal space that inspires our senses, and try imagining the future of matsuri festivals.

Mori Building Digital Art Museum: Epson teamLab Borderless

Permanent exhibition
Weekdays 10:00–19:00
Saturdays, Sundays, holidays 10:00–21:00

Venue: Mori Building Digital Art Museum: Epson teamLab Borderless (Palette Town 2F, Odaiba)
teamLab Borderless:
* Check the website for days closed before visiting the venue.

Text: Hajime Oishi
Exhibition view of MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo
teamLab is represented by Pace Gallery

N.B. The information on this site is correct as of August 2019. It is subject to change without notice, so please confirm the details before coming to the festival.
(This is a "Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New" Project.)