It’s difficult to name a favourite teamLab exhibit when the art collective has so many fantastical installations across Japan, but if we were to rank all of the projects the digital art wizards have done so far, this exhibition in Kyushu would be high on the list.
Set in the 500,000sqm Mifuneyama Rakuen, teamLab’s A Forest Where Gods Live digital art installation is one that demonstrates how nature can become its own form of art. Set to return to Kyushu this summer, this year’s exhibition will be available from July 15 to November 6 2022.
During the day, you can see historical landmarks like the cave of 500 stone arhats (disciples of Buddha) which were hand-carved by the monk Gyoki roughly 1,300 years ago.
Return after dark, however, and the park becomes a transcendental realm where digital art transforms the site’s trees and rock formations into mystical installations.
‘Ever Blossoming Life Rock’
The results are extraordinary. Even an ordinary boulder can become a canvas for a mesmerising digital artwork. The ‘Ever Blossoming Life Rock’, for instance, can be seen covered in bright blossoms that grow, flourish and wither before fading in unique, never-repeated sequences.
‘Universe of Water Particles on a Sacred Rock’
In this installation, a three-metre-tall rock becomes the base of a digital waterfall. The artwork has been calibrated so that the digital water particles wash over the rock in a realistic manner.
‘Life is Continuous Light - Azalea Valley’
Most of the installations are interactive and respond to the presence and movements of visitors. In ‘Life is Continuous Light - Azalea Valley’, you'll find that the azalea bushes light up and change colour as you approach them.
'Resonating Forest - Cherry Blossoms and Maple'
This part of the forest responds in a similar way, with sakura and maple trees glowing different colours as people walk along the main path.
'Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats – Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond'
Other large-scale installations include the one found on the surface of the Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond, where colourful koi fish dart around the water and interact with the small boats that float above them. Like the flowers on the ‘Ever Blossoming Life Rock’, the koi fish have no predetermined movements, which means no matter how long you stare at it, you’ll never see any programmed patterns.
'Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins'
Not all of the installations are found outdoors, mind you. This one is set within the walls of a modern-style public bathhouse, which was abandoned shortly after it was built.
‘Graffiti Nature - Living in the Ruins of a Bathhouse, Red List’
The abandoned onsen also houses a second installation, where colourful renditions of local (and endangered) wildlife are projected on the floor and walls.
Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel
It's not part of the exhibition, but the luxurious Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel is the perfect spot to rest after an evening of exploration in the park. And while the now-defunct onsen facilities may only serve as a backdrop for teamLab’s digital art, you can still catch some spa action here. As well as boasting its own permanent teamLab installation in its lobby, the hotel also offers a stunning onsen that sources natural spring water from Mt Mifune.
The hotel spa and sauna, which was recently renovated, has been highlighted in Saunachelin (a list of the the best saunas to visit in Japan) for three years running.
A Forest Where Gods Live will be held at Mifuneyama Rakuen Park in Taeko Onsen, Saga prefecture, from July 15 to November 6.
Watch this space for updates on opening hours and online bookings as more information becomes available.
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