Story of the time when the Gods First Descended

Sisyu + teamLab, 2014, Interactive Digital Installation, Endless, Calligraphy: Sisyu, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

Story of the time when the Gods First Descended

Sisyu + teamLab, 2014, Interactive Digital Installation, Endless, Calligraphy: Sisyu, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

In the ancient world, in a time when gods were everywhere—in the rocks; in the waterfalls; in the sun and the moon—it is said that people created pictographs in order to communicate with the gods. 


When you—and those around you—touch these pictographs, the gods emerge from them and influence each other to create a story. And when you touch the gods, you make an even deeper impact on the world, and the story transforms. 


The world of the story that you see extends out in 360 degrees. The gods that are created from the pictographs influence each other's positions in space, as well as their physical characteristics, behavior, and relationships to one another. They are also affected when they are touched by the viewers, and their movement through space is calculated in real time. As in real life, you never experience the same story twice; you are continually creating a new experience.

Background of Artwork

  • Since ancient times, words have been seen as possessing a spiritual power, the spiritual power of language. However, as words disappear, this spiritual power of language could not reside in words. According to the theories of Chinese literary scholar Shizuka Shirakawa, characters were born so that the power that people invested in words could be sustained and made more effective by putting the words down as pictographs.

  • Chinese characters are believed to have been created around 1200 BC, during the Shang Dynasty.
    Kings of that era communicated with the gods through fortunetelling. Fortunetelling was practiced in connection with rituals and weather, and with every major decision concerning the dynasty, including war, harvests, and hunting. Inscribing records of communications with gods (fortunetelling) on tortoise shells or animal bones in the form of pictographs was the beginning of oracle bone script – that is, Chinese characters.

  • Reference
    Shirakawa, Shizuka. Kanji: Oitachi to Sono Haikei. Iwanami Shoten, 1970.
    Matsuoka Seigō. Shirakawa Shizuka: Kanji No Sekaikan. Heibonsha, 2008.