Black Waves of Kochi Castle

teamLab, 2019, Digital Installation, Continuous Loop, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

Kochi castle is considered an important castle in Japan, as it is the only castle where the castle tower and nearly all of the central structure remain intact. The artwork depicts waves on the fusuma sliding doors of the passageways that connect the outer and inner sections of the castle.

The movement of waves is simulated in a computer-generated three-dimensional space. The water is expressed as a continuous body after calculating the interactions of hundreds of thousands of particles. To visualize the waves, the behavior of the particles of the water was then extracted and lines were drawn in relation to the movement of the particles. The wave created in a three-dimensional space is then turned into an artwork in accordance with what teamLab refers to as ultrasubjective space.

In premodern Japanese painting, oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water were expressed as a series of lines. These lines give the impression of life, as though water was a living entity.  

This form of expression leads us to question why premodern people sensed life in rivers and oceans. Also, why did they behave as if they themselves were a part of nature? Perhaps something can be discovered by fusing the fixed objective world of today’s common knowledge with the subjective world of premodern people.

While viewing this artwork, if we feel a sense of life in the collection of lines—what can be called the subjective world of premodern people—then perhaps this is one aspect of objective recognition.

When viewing this artwork, as opposed to watching waves shot with a video camera, people may feel that the barrier between themselves and the waves disappears. They feel immersed in the work, perhaps even feeling life in the collection of lines, as if the waves are luring them in.
Perhaps we can find a connection to the way premodern Japanese people perceived the world and consequently behaved toward the world.

If we regard ourselves as a part of nature, and consider nature not just as something to be observed, we might join premodern people in perceiving rivers and oceans as living entities. This is a way of seeing the world that lures us in and allows us to feel that there is no boundary between ourselves and nature.