Aug 1, 2014

Immersive Exhibition Brings Traditional Japanese Art and Mythology to Life

Featured on PSFK, Aug 1, 2014

Ultra Subjective Space invites visitors to view the world from the perspective of the ancient Japanese
The first US exhibition by Japanese Ultra-technologists teamLab takes visitors on a journey through space and time in seven digital screens. New York’s Pace Gallery is hosting the exhibition, which blurs the boundary between the virtual and the ancient world.
The exhibition is based on the unique perspective of traditional Japanese painting. teamLab explains on the exhibition website:
teamLab believes that traditional “flat” Japanese painting has a different spatial logic to that of western perspective. We call this logic Ultra Subjective Space.
In seven large-scale screens, the teamLab translates this understanding of space into 3D narratives inspired by Japanese mythology.
For example, Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12 is an animation of twelve stories that explore the age of myth and the legendary 8 headed creature Yamata no Orochi.
To animate this narrative, teamLab constructed 3D objects in an artificial 3D space and then flattened the images to coincide with perspective in traditional Japanese art. During the animation, the viewer is given glimpses of the 3D space to show the creation process.
Ever Blossoming Life – Gold uses the traditional Japanese painting style but the artwork itself is drawn in real time by a computer program. The live animation shows the life cycle of a flower.
The website states:
Flowers are born, grow, and blossom in profusion before the petals begin withering and flowers die and disappear. The cycle of birth and death repeats itself, continuing for eternity and never duplicating previous states. The image shown now cannot be viewed again.
This is a live artwork that creates different images with every cycle, using a flower as a metaphor for the universal cycle of life and the uniqueness of every individual life.
Cold Life recreates calligraphy in 3D:
A calligraphic series of brushstrokes modelled in virtual 3D space forms the character 生(Japanese/Mandarin for ‘life’) which then metamorphoses into a tree. As time passes, various life forms begin emanating and growing from within the tree.
As with ‘Flower and Corpse Glitch’, this work also reveals its process, letting the viewer see behind the computer-generated images to the wireframe models underneath.
Universe of Water Particles is a cascade of hundreds of thousands of water particles flowing over a virtual rock, in five times the resolution of HD.
It is inspired by the way water is represented in traditional Japanese paintings, as curvilinear lines that made it appear to be a living creature. The piece combines a modern understanding of water informed by physics with the spiritual idea of water held by the ancient Japanese.
teamLab explains the intention of this work on the exhibition website:
If one, drawn in by this universe of particles, feels as though they are immersed in the work and does not feel a barrier between them and the waterfall – such as one might feel when looking at a video recording of an actual waterfall – or maybe even feel one’s soul fusing with the lines of water/living energy, then perhaps they will be able to comprehend the connection between the ancient Japanese’s system of perception and their attitudes and behavior towards the world.
Ultra Subjective Space, which runs until August 15, immerses viewers in the ancient world of the Japanese with a series of exquisitely detailed animations. It turns traditional paintings and mythology into movement and light, using futuristic technology to bring visitors closer to the past.