1: Who is teamLab?
teamLab (f. 2001) is an art collective, interdisciplinary group of ultratechnologists whose collaborative practice seeks to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, design and the natural world. Various specialists such as artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects form teamLab.
teamLab aims to explore a new relationship between humans and nature, and between oneself and the world through art. Digital technology has allowed art to liberate itself from the physical and transcend boundaries. teamLab sees no boundary between humans and nature, and between oneself and the world; one is in the other and the other in one. Everything exists in a long, fragile yet miraculous, borderless continuity of life.
teamLab has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at venues worldwide, including teamLab Dance! Art Exhibition and Learn and Play! teamLab Future Park which has welcomed over 470,000 visitors; Expo Milano 2015 Japan Pavilion, Milan; as well as venues in Silicon Valley, London, Paris, Taipei, New York, China, and Singapore among others. Launched the permanent exhibition MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless in Odaiba, Tokyo in Summer of 2018. Now exhibiting the massive body immersive space teamLab Planets TOKYO in Toyosu, Tokyo until Fall of 2020, as well as the inaugural exhibition teamLab Massless until January 6, 2019 at Amos Rex in Helsinki Finland.
teamLab’s works are in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Asia Society Museum, New York; Borusan Contemporary Art Collection, Istanbul; and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
teamLab is represented by Pace Gallery.
teamLab installations compilation movie:
teamLab full biographical document:
2: How was the collective born? How did it evolve?
teamLab was founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko and several of his friends, to create a “lab”, a space for co-creative activities. By putting ourselves in such an environment and create something, we wanted to deepen our thoughts and insights, simply to keep creating. Our aim is to create a new experience, and through such experience, we want to explore what the world is for humans.
teamLab was creating digital art from the beginning. Our aim has always been to change people’s standards of value and contribute to societal progress. That hasn’t changed since the very start.
However, we had neither the opportunities to present them, nor could we imagine how to economically sustain our teams producing art. On the other hand, we believed in the power of digital technology and creativity, and we simply loved it. We just wanted to keep creating something new, no matter which genre it would turn out to be. And while we took part in various projects to maintain teamLab, we’ve increased the number of technologists such as architects, CG animatorsanimaters, painters, mathematicians and hardware engineers.
As time went on, while we gained passionate followers among young people, we were still ignored by the Japanese art world. Our debut finally came in 2011 at the Kaikai Kiki gallery in Taipei, thanks to the artist Takashi Murakami. Since then, we have gained opportunities in cosmopolitan cities such as Singapore where we joined the Singapore Biennale in 2013. Also in 2014, New York PACE Gallery has started to help promoting our artworks. These fortunate factors allowed us to expand rapidly. And finally in 2015, for the first time in Japan, we were able to organize our own exhibition. These situations further accelerated our evolution and gave us opportunities to exhibit internationally; London, Paris, the U.S., Taiwan, China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and so on.
= Quick Recap =
teamLab is art collective that has been represented by Pace Gallery since 2014. teamLab is a collaborative, interdisciplinary creative group that brings together professionals from various fields of practice in the digital society. Its roughly 500 members include visual artists, computer scientists, mathematicians, CG animators, web designers, roboticists, educators, architects, and engineers of all kinds. teamLab aims to achieve a balance between art, science, technology and creativity.
2001 Founded by 5 Tokyo University graduates including Toshiyuki Inoko
2011 Debuted at the Kaikai Kiki gallery in Taipei
2013 Joined Singapore Biennale
2014 New York PACE Gallery has started to help promoting teamLab’s artworks
2015 For the first time in Japan, organized its own exhibition teamLab Dance! Art Exhibition and Learn
and Play! teamLab Future Park which attracted nearly 500,000 visitors.
Since then, teamLab has been expanding to exhibit internationally; London, France, United States, Australia, Singapore, U.A.E., India, Taiwan, China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and so on.
3: Who are ‘Ultratechnologists’?
Technicians are not the only technologists.
A technologist is a specialist who performs both knowledge work and manual labor. In other words, it refers to someone with high expertise who moves hands, and discovers knowledge by moving hands. Our process of creation is to think simultaneously as we physically create as a team of technologists who practice hands-on labor with highly specialized knowledge.
Although there always is a broad concept for us to aim for, the goal of each project is vague, and we create as we think through and flesh out the full idea. A type of knowledge we discover through a hands-on practice is a knowledge that can be shared. Through such processes, we explore what we call a collective creation. We think technologists and collective creation always come together.
How would teamLab define its work?
teamLab believes digital technology can expand art and that digital art can create new relationships between people.
Digital Technology Releases Expression from Substance and Creates an Existence with the Possibility for Transformation
Digital technology enables complex detail and freedom for change. Before people started accepting digital technology, information and artistic expression had to be presented in some physical form. Creative expression has existed through static media for most of human history, often using physical objects such as canvas and paint. The advent of digital technology allows human expression to become free from these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely.
Expansion and Space Adaptability
No longer limited to physical media, digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically. Since digital art can easily expand, it provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space. We are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces, and viewers are able to experience the artwork more directly.
Digital Technology Has Allowed Us to Express Change in Itself
The characteristics of digital technology allow artworks to express the capacity for change much more freely. Viewers, in interaction with their environment, can instigate perpetual change in an artwork. Through an interactive relationship between the viewers and the artwork, viewers become an intrinsic part of that artwork.
Digital Art: https://www.teamlab.art/concept/expandart/
In interactive artworks that teamLab creates, because viewers movement or even a presence transforms the artwork, the boundaries between the work and viewers become ambiguous. Viewers become a part of the work. This changes the relationship between an artwork and an individual into a relationship between an artwork and a group of individuals. A viewer who was present 5 minutes ago, or how the person next to you is behaving now, suddenly becomes important. Unlike a viewer who stands in front of a conventional painting, a viewer immersed in an interactive artwork becomes more aware of other people’s presence.
Unlike a physical painting on a canvas, the non-material digital technology can liberate art from the physical. Furthermore because of its ability to transform itself freely, it can transcend boundaries. By using such digital technology, we believe digital art can expand the beautiful. And by making an interactive digital art, you and others’ presence becomes an element to transform an artwork, hence creating a new relationship between people within the same space. By applying such digital art to the unique environment, we wanted to create a space where you can feel that you are connected with other people in the world.
4: How does teamLab create as a collective?
Once the large concept of the artwork is set, we gather specialized members related to the work and think more finely. For example, the Flower Forest: Lost, Immersed and Reborn piece which we’ve exhibited at PACE Beijing, we’ve created it with a specialist who creates 3D CG flower model and animation, 3D software programmer, engineer who designs equipment such as a projector, software programmer who localizes and integrates dozens of projectors within the space, an architect and so on.
Flower Forest: Lost, Immersed and Reborn
Our artworks are created by a team of hands-on experts through a continuous process of creation and thinking. Although the large concepts are always defined from the start, the project goal tends to remain unclear, so the whole team needs to create and think as they go along. teamLab’s organizational structure seems flat at a first glance, but it is also extremely multidimensional, with an underlying layer that is unclear and undecided.
The big concepts are always defined from the start, and the project goal and technical feasibility also go hand in hand. This is why the goal of the artwork becomes more clearly defined as the team progresses its work.