Monday, April 06, 2020

Dancing in a digital universe

May 07. 2016
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By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The S

BEC-Tero brings Japan's amazing futuristic exhibition and theme park to Bangkok
THE FIRST interactive theme park and futuristic exhibition ever to come to Thailand, “teamLabs Islands: Dance! Art Museum, Learn & Play!” opened last Sunday at CentralWorld and is already proving one of the most popular events ever held in the City of Angels. 
Boasting a spectacular multimedia art exhibition and innovative interactive amusement park, the learning extravaganza is the brainchild of Toshiyuki Inoko, who in 2001 brought together a group of programmers, architects, engineers, graphic designers, CG animators and artists to create digital art installations that combine art, science and technology.
TeamLabs, as the group is known, has since been delighting kids and adults all over the globe, and today has permanent exhibitions in Japan, Singapore and New York. This latest show, which has been brought to Thailand by BEC-Tero Entertainment with the sponsorship of Singha Drinking Water and Scotch Kitz, has already travelled to Taiwan, the US, Turkey, Australia, France and the UK and will be at The Space zone on the third floor of CentralWorld through July 31.
“As a promoter, we are always keen to bring new kinds of entertainment shows to Thailand. Our aim is give the young generation a new experience. We started with the ‘Titanic: the Artefact Exhibition’ back in 2012, which enjoyed only modest success because people didn’t really understand what we were trying to achieve,” says Raksit Rakkandee, director of concerts and events for BEC-Tero Entertainment.
“That changed in 2014 with ‘Nasa – A Human Adventure: The Exhibition’, which the kids loved. We discovered teamLab on a trip to Osaka and Tokyo and knew immediately that the high-tech digital art exhibition and interactive theme park would appeal to Thais of all ages,” Raksit continues.
“We started with an art exhibition and then decided to add a kid zone’s to our space,” explains teamLab’s founder Inoko.
“So we created Japan’s first interactive theme park, where parents and children could come to hang out together. The feedback was very good. More than 500,000 people came to that first event. That inspired us to expand our exhibition under the name teamLab Islands to around the world and we are delighted to be here in Thailand.”
Spread over 2,100 square metres, the islands are divided into two zones. The walls are painted black and equipped with the most advanced 3D touch-screen projectors plus descriptions in Thai and English. 
“The art zone offers new technology and showcases the immense potential of digital arts, while the theme park is a playground where everyone of every age can play and learn at the same time,” Inoko says.
The Dance Art Museum exhibits five real-time rendered digital art installations, controlled by a computer program. The “Flowers and People” installation depicts the cycle of flowers in all four seasons over the course of 60 minutes and is not only instructive but also extremely beautiful.
The installation was inspired by a teamLab group visit to the Kunisaki Peninsula in spring 2014 where they saw cherry blossoms in the mountains and rapeseed blossoms in the valley and wondered how many of these flowers were planted by people and how many were propagated by nature. This work reminds the viewer that nature and people can’t be controlled but live together in harmony.
More than 1,000 colourful blossoms spring to life as the visitor stands in front of a 3D touch-screen projector where the flowers bud, grow, and blossom. However, the flowers wither and disperse if visitors touch on them or move away from the projector. The cycle of growth and decay repeats itself in perpetuity yet is never repetitive. Depending on the proximity of the viewer to the work, the flowers shed their petals all at once, wither and die, or come to life and blossom once again.
“The Flowers and People is essentially a conceptual art work. Here one hour is equal to one year and you can see the beauty of nature from January to December. You interpret the digital art by yourself. It’s what you feel that’s most important,” communication director Takashi Kudo explains.
The Flowers and Corpse Glitch Set, a series of 12 animations, tells the story of civilisation and nature, collision, circulation and symbiosis. 
Based on the concept “Ultra Subjective Space”, it is designed to look like a traditional Japanese painting but reveals a complicated 3D structure when its framework is peeled away. This process, Kudo explains, reaffirms that new cultural developments, even in today’s information society, are born from a continuation of culture, even if at first glance these seem to have emerged from the recent past.
TeamLab celebrates the tricentenary of Jakuchu Ito, an early modern Japanese artist in the mid-Edo period, by bringing his famous screen paintings “Birds, Animals and Flowering Plants” and “Trees, Flowers, Birds and Animals” to life in the 3D-animated cartoon “Nirvana”. 
Colourful and lively, the animation is centred on ancient Pokemon-like animals such as a white elephant, rabbit, peacock, phoenix and swan, all of them living in a peaceful jungle far way from hunters.
Climate change is addressed in “The 100 Years Sea Animation Diorama”, which visualises the rising sea levels from 2009 to 2109 based on scientific data from the World Wildlife Foundation. The animation shows how the waves engulf high mountains and land is gradually replaced by the ocean. 
Another multimedia installation, Crows Are Chased, uses the Itano Circus technique, pioneered by Japanese animator Ichiro Itano, to create fantastic spatial calligraphy. Viewers are transfixed as a flock of the Japanese mythical birds known as yatagarasu fly around the space leaving trails on the black sky in different shades of light that then transform into flowers.
For most young visitors to the event, the main attraction is the Learn & Play Inactive Theme Park. A huge playground, it features eight recreational corners on different themes. 
Among the most popular is the Sketch Town that grows and evolves with the pictures that children draw. Pictures drawn here can be turned into unique 3-D paper crafts, which children can take home. Equally enjoyable is the Sketch Aquarium where children colour in a drawing of a sea creature, which is then scanned and projected onto a giant virtual aquarium. The kids can not only see their fish swim with all the other creatures but feed them by simply touching the virtual food bag.
“There’s never just one answer to anything. In the Sketch Town and Aquarium, there’s no correct way to draw, write, colour or sketch. Kids can imagine anything they want. We want people to open their minds and be endlessly creative,” Inoko says.
Kids with a passion for music can create their own band in the Light Ball Orchestra zone where huge balls “communicate” with one another by changing colour and making music depending on how they are touched. 
The “Connecting Train Block” 3D-projection table allows children to share their ideas for various modes of transport while the Story of the Time When Gods Were Everywhere corner, a kind of magic picture book, allows the youngsters to change characters in the Japanese alphabet into lifelike animated animals and other shapes on the large 3D touch-screen projector. 
“If the feedback is good, we plan to take teamLab Islands show to Phuket and Chiang Mai,” Raksit says.
  
LEARN AND PLAY
>>“teamLab Islands: Dance! Art Museum, Learn & Play!” continues through July 31.
>> It’s at the Space zone on the third floor of CentralWorld and open daily from 10 to 10. 
>>Tickets cost Bt350 and are available at Thai Ticket Major counters and online at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com. 
>>Find out more by calling (02) 262 3838 or visit Exhibition.Team-Lab.net/Bangkok. 
 

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