teamLab is an Ultra-technologists group made up of specialists including programmers (user interface engineers, database engineers, network engineers, hardware engineers, computer vision engineers, software architects), mathematicians, architects, CG animators, web designers, graphic designers, artists, editors and more. They create works through “experimentation and innovation” making the borders between science, technology, art and design more ambiguous.
Pace Gallery is pleased to present Ultra Subjective Space, the first U.S. exhibition of Japanese collaborative digital artists, teamLab, at 508 and 510 West 25th Street from July 17 through August 15, 2014. A public opening will be held on Wednesday, July 16, from 6 to 8 PM. The two-venue exhibition will include five large-scale digital monitor pieces and the immersive, digital installation, Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well, Division in Perspective – Light in Dark, 2014. An e-catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an introduction by art historian Charles Merewether and an interview between teamLab founder, Toshiyuki Inoko, and esteemed art historian and professor at Meiji Gakuin University, Yuji Yamashita.
Rooted in the tradition of seventeenth-century Japanese Art and contemporary forms of anime, teamLab navigates the confluence of art, technology, and design. Founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko and a group of his university friends, teamLab has exhibited extensively in Asia and is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. This fall, the Japan Society in New York will mount Garden of Unearthly Delights: Works by Ikeda, Tenmyouya & teamLab, marking teamLab’s first inclusion in a stateside museum exhibition. Working as a collective creative force, their work celebrates the vitality of nature and simultaneously strives to expand our understanding of human perception.
The exhibition’s title, Ultra Subjective Space, refers to the distinctly Japanese sense of spatial recognition. The exhibition draws a comparison between representation of space in western Renaissance “perspective,” which depicts a linear system with objects receding in space, and that of traditional Japanese compositions. In traditional Japanese composition, from Ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period to current Manga illustrations, figures and objects exist on a single plane of depth focusing on vertical and horizontal relationships to portray dimensionality. The viewer does not hold a dominant perspective over the subject matter and, instead, is merged into a comprehensive experience. The implication of this alternative vantage point, neither subordinate nor superior to western perspective, raises questions regarding how different cultures perceive the construction of space today. Charles Merewether writes in his introduction to the exhibition’s catalogue: “Digital media art, in the hands of such artists as teamLab, succeed as an art of participatory installation and part of our everyday contemporary lives.”
The digital monitor and projection installations presented in this exhibition, reflect the construction of Japanese spatial awareness by creating a flattened three-dimensional world. The exhibition’s centerpiece, Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well, Division in Perspective – Light in Dark, 2014, will play vivid animation across seven staggered screens, setting the viewer in an all-encompassing experience of spatial perception. Using the Japanese animation technique of “Itano Circus,” created by renowned animator Ichiro Itano who coined the term for his distinct style of animated flight choreography, a mythological three-legged crow, Yatagarasu, shoots into space to envelope the viewer’s field of vision. Following in the tradition of Japanese spatial rendering, swarms of crows are drawn in a distorted perspective, conveying a strong sense of dynamism and vibrancy. Fully immersed in the installation, the viewer and subject are integrated in a participatory environment characteristic of teamLab’s groundbreaking initiatives on digital platforms.
Ultra Subjective Space will also include three single-channel monitor works and two multi-channel monitor works. Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12, 2012, utilizes high definition monitors to tell a mythological tale about Japanese civilization, natural disaster, war, and eventual rebirth. Universe of Water Particles, 2013, creates a dynamic sense of a waterfall cascading down five vertically stacked monitors. Two versions of Ever Blossoming Life – Gold and Dark, 2014 present images of flowers blooming, withering, and dispersing their petals in accordance to a computer program written by teamLab. The animation never repeats itself and the work effectively creates itself in any given moment. In Cold Life, 2014, a series of brushstrokes – created by calligrapher, Sisyu, and modeled in 3D space – form the Chinese character meaning “life.” The brushstrokes then transform and grow into a tree that, as time passes, gives rise to other life forms. Presented alongside the large scale digital installation, this exhibition at Pace provides unique insight into teamLab’s creative mission and innovative imagination.