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Travel Tokyo- Inside the brand new MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless

Crystal World at MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM. Photo by Gillian Shewaga.

The world’s first digital-only museum just opened last week in Tokyo, Japan and I was lucky enough to get tickets for the exhibition’s second day opened. By now you may have seen some of the the insanely stimulating photos and videos on your FB feed from teamLab, and yes, it’s just as spectacular as it seems.

What makes MORI so special?

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless allows visitors to completely immerse themselves in the artwork through the use of a vast, complex three-dimensional space of 10,000 square meters, 520 computers, and 470 projectors. Giving visitors the illusion that they are wandering through rice fields, basking under waterfalls, bouncing on a galaxy of planets, and even floating in a star field of cosmic lights.

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM. Photo by Gillian Shewaga.

One of the coolest things about the teamLab Borderless exhibitions?

Each visitor will get to experience something completely new and different with each visit. No single trip to the extraordinary new museum will ever be the same since the art’s scenery is linked, in real-time, to the seasons and are constantly changing.

There are five connected zones in the museum. “Borderless World,” the first zone, is an interactive digital landscape where visitors are encouraged to create their own path. People walk through digitized waterfalls, “touch” luminescent birds and saunter through computer generated forests and fields.

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM. Photo by Gillian Shewaga.

The second zone is the “Athletics Forest,” a zone intended to train the brain’s spatial recognition abilities and get people moving, according to teamLab. The space has visitors climbing on flashing poles, bouncing on a trampoline through a galaxy simulation and balancing on hanging boards that dangle in a show of colorful lights.

Photos by Gillian Shewaga

Future Park” is designed for children. The park has kids interact with the art through various games and activities, such as an aquarium teeming with digital fish designed by the kids themselves and a musical wall that plays sounds upon touch.

Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM. Photo by Gillian Shewaga.

Moving from the park, the exhibition turns into the “Forest of Lamps.” In a Yayoi Kusama like fashion, the room boasts similarities to her famed Infinity Mirror Room works of art. With two different rotating cycles of colors called the One Stroke and One Stroke, Metropolis installations, visitors stand engulfed in a sea of colorful lamps where light spreads from one lamp to the next once a lamp is touched.

Forest of Lamps. Photo by Gillian Shewaga

“Since the arrangement of the lamps born from such a process seems to be random at first sight, the trajectory of light can not be predicted, the light continues to the lamp physically closest, and gives a natural feeling - like a fire burning. And since the light trajectory of the lamp is connected by a single line, the light born from any particular lamp and the light born from any other lamp, will always cross each other.”

In all honestly, I did not know the interactive aspect about the instillation before visiting, but it was still so mesmerizing that we went through it twice all the same.

Forest of Lamps. Photo by Gillian Shewaga

*Tip* The Forest of Lamps is located upstairs which had a line with a 10-15 min wait by the time we found it. There is no real map or suggested path through the museum, so you could try heading here first if it’s high on your list. Like Kusama’s Infinity Rooms, most people are camera ready and trying to get their best photo op during their time in the room. There are only about 10 people allowed in at a time, and only for 60 seconds, so I would also recommend going through multiple times if you really want to experience the art.

Borderless World:

Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather

Memory of Topography

Walk, Walk, Walk: Search, Deviate, Reunite:

Walk, Walk, Walk. Photo by Gillian Shewaga.

*Tip* Touch the walls here. From teamLab: “This space is made of a group of anonymous and diverse figures.The figures keep walking and as they do the artwork moves. When visitors touch the figures, they react, sometimes stop, sometimes change the direction and choose a different path. Visitors make decisions and choices as they keep walking. If visitors physically stop, the figures in front of them continue to move and interchange.

The Zen expression “Hoho kore dojo” says every step is the place to learn. The figures of the work continue walking endlessly while confronting new situations. Walking after the figures or confronting new figures one after another the visitors also make choices along their own path.

The work is rendered in real time by a computer program, it is neither a prerecorded animation nor imagery on loop.The work as a whole is in constant change; previous states will never be repeated and can never be seen again.”

Crystal World

Crystal World at MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM:
Crystal World. Photo by Gillian Shewaga

The Way of the Sea, Floating Nest

Floating Nest ended up being the very last room that we discovered in the afternoon. Although we waited almost 1 1/2 hours to enter, it's maybe one of the most immersive installations in the entire museum.

*Tip* Go here first to avoid long crowd lines later in the day. Floating Nest is located around where you first enter on the furthest wall to the right in the Flower Forrest.

*Tip* There are two different videos that play. Be sure to stay for both of them, as each is totally unique.

*Tip* This may sound taboo, but try recording a video on your phone and watch one of the loops this way. It oddly creates almost a 3D effect on your screen that the eye doesn't quite catch in the same way. It may be the one time ever that art is actually enhanced while you’re busy trying to capture it, rather than fully experiencing it.

Flower Forest: Lost, Immersed and Reborn

Light Sculpture

Light Sculpture. Photos by Gillian Shewaga

Light Sculpture. Photos by Gillian Shewaga

General Tips:

  • Get tickets well in advance prior to your visit. During the first week opened, tickets were already sold out 1 ½ weeks in advance.

  • Bring an umbrella. Tokyo is known for it’s hot, sunny days, as well as it’s scattered showers. The line to first enter the MORI ques into a long line that is unprotected by the elements down the side of the building. We waited about 20-30 min to enter (they seem to let groups of 15 up at once), but was still a bit uncomfortable in the direct sun.

  • There are no set ticket times. Once you have a ticket you can spend the whole day in the museum. If you’re not worried about the explorative element of the musume, try crossing those higher crowd installations off your list first as they tend to become more popular later in the afternoon.

  • Discounted tickets for the first few months are now on sale through this dedicated website, at Lawson or 7-11. Tickets are ¥2,400 for high school students, university students, and adults; ¥1,000 for children. These early sale tickets are valid for a pre-specified date between June 21 and July 31, and are available on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Explore everywhere! The museum is mapless, and well borderless, with a few hidden rooms and entrances to installations in surprising areas. Don’t be scared to peek around each curtain that you find yourself in front of.

  • Touch the walls. The art is made to be interacted with and certain installations will react to your motions.

  • Take your time and stay a while in each instillation. Even go back to some of the instillations you’ve already seen! Most cycle through various pieces of programing and there’s a chance that what you’ve already seen is now different. #teamlab #digitalart #tokyo

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