A Return to Experiences and People
We filled ourselves up with energy at Cinnamoroll Café and headed towards one of our most anticipated destination on this trip: teamLab Borderless at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum in Odaiba.
teamLab Borderless is created by a cross-disciplinary team of artists, engineers, programmers, architects, computer animators, and mathematicians. The vision for this technology-heavy museum is to break down the barriers between “one art and another,” “art and visitors,” and “oneself and others.” True to this theme, teamLab Borderless uses technology to engage visitors and bring them closer to each other.
Since its opening in June this year, this avant-garde museum has already attracted more than 7,000 visitors. If you are interested in visiting, you should pre-order your tickets (~$30 per person) in advance, which is what we did. Tickets were sold out for the day by the time we arrived in the afternoon. The tickets can be used anytime during the day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., so having an e-ticket on hand gives you the flexibility to visit whenever you want.
The teamLab exhibit is a 20-minute train ride from Shiodome on the Yurikomome. Access to the museum after you get off could be tricky. The museum is hidden behind the Toyota City Showcase and the Palette Town Daikanransha (Ferris wheel). There were signs pointing to the exhibit, but none were specific enough to help us locate the entrance to the museum. (Note: Wear walkable shoes.)
All three zones available at the time of our visit—Borderless World, Athletic Forest, and Future Park—are connected, so it doesn’t matter which one you start with. It would be smart, however, to plan your tour of the museum ahead with the list of installations available on teamLab’s official website, especially if you are not planning on spending the whole day there.
The traditionalists that we are, we started with Borderless World. As soon as you set foot in the exhibit, you are engulfed in darkness and all you can see are the projections on the walls. Getting lost is actually fun and fruitful in this museum because the projections on the wall in one area change over time. You’re constantly discovering something new even if you stay put in one spot.
I don’t think I have ever seen art as visually stimulating as the installations by teamLab. One example is the Light Sculpture – Fog Series Room, where spotlights line each wall and are coordinated with music to show different color combinations and light formations.
Besides the visual spectacles, what truly made this museum unique is how its art involves its visitors. The Crystal Room, my favorite installation with hundreds of strings of LED lights hanging from the ceiling, can actually be controlled via an app or buttons inside the room by those visiting! If you download the teamLab Borderless app, you will be asked, “What is your element?” and given options like rain, fire, and flowers. The colors of the LED lights actually change to reflect the element you chose.
I didn’t always know which colors correspond to which theme, but that’s OK. Unlike traditional museums, teamLab Borderless didn’t have any signs giving explanations or backgrounds of the installations. The focus is on immersing yourself in the art and sensory experiences.
The Athletic Forest zone takes this immersion one step further. When I had to change out of my high-heeled sandals and into flat shoes provided by the museum, I wondered what could be ahead in the next area. (Again, wear sensible shoes!) It was an area named Graffiti Nature made up of high mountains and deep valleys! With projections of grass, flowers, and animals onto the floor, I felt like I was hiking in a glowing neon world.
This area housed even more involved activities for visitors like Aerial Climbing and Inverted Globe. In this day and age of excessive personal technology use and increasing disconnection from others and the world, this museum reminds us and the younger generation to go out there, explore, engage with, and be amazed by our surroundings. The activities designed to encourage interaction among visitors bring us closer to our loved ones.
The memories and experiences of this museum will stay with you long after your visit, so definitely go if you are ever in Tokyo!
Next time, another unforgettable place—Tokyo Disney Sea.