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teamLab Goes Underground and Massless at Amos Rex

What does it mean to make art in a world that is increasingly digital? Japanese collective teamLab embrace the massless-ness of the non-physical at Amos Rex

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Under the ground in a public square in Helsinki an exhibition without any objects is taking place.

To celebrate the opening of Amos Rex Art Museum, the city’s newest cultural institution, Tokyo-based artist collective teamLab showcases an immersive collection of digital artworks. Entitled teamLab:Massless, the exhibition is truly a mark of the 21st century where digital innovation and technological sophistication allow creatives to abandon the constraints of the physical and imagine the act of making anew.

Amos Rex opened in August, earlier this year, after five years of development. The ambitious “building” designed by architectural firm JKMM. It’s construction saw 13,000 cubic meters of rock excavated to create a monumental underground gallery space that is topped with a series of glass dome skylights that protrude into the plaza above, creating a moon-like landscape.

Kai Kartio, Director of Amos Rex, said: “The opening of Amos Rex is one of the biggest events to occur in the cultural life of Helsinki for a generation and will offer unrivaled facilities for the display of art, exhibitions, film, and performance.”

Karito also hints at the exploratory nature of the shows that will take place at Amos Rex in the statement: “Art used to be something you hung on the wall and went respectfully to contemplate. Today art is increasingly interactive and conversational.” Their choice of teamLab for their inaugural exhibition, therefore, could not be more fitting.

Inspired by the unique domed ceiling of the gallery space, teamLab’s biggest installation in their exhibition projects an inverted abstract waterfall onto every surface of the space. Entitled, Vortex of Light Particles viewers are enveloped by water that defies gravity and runs upwards. This work is characteristic of teamLab and marks a new way that art is experienced and also how people interact with it an each other in exhibition spaces.

Another monumental work is Graffiti Nature Lost: Immersed and Reborn (2018). This interactive digital installation, with sounds by Hideaki Takahashi, is a colorful ecosystem where visitors can create their own creatures and watch them interact with other animals – eating things, multiplying and being eaten. If one stands still flowers will bloom and disperse as you take a step. Butterflies, crocodiles, geckos, whales and more move around you, underneath you and above you in a dizzying magical landscape.

Also inspired by motifs of nature are the installations Crows are Chased and the Chasing Crows are Destined to be Chased as Well, Transcending Space (2017) and Black Waves (2016) where again, light and movement hypnotize those interacting with them. Their work Enso (2017) reflects on the Japanese Zen practice of drawing a brushstroke in a single line in a work of spatial and digital calligraphy.

Both Amos Rex and the works of teamLab defy the limits of architecture and art respectively. Coming together they offer visitors a glimpse into what is possible with imagination and boldness in the 21st century.

‘teamLab:Massless’ will be on display until January 6, 2019

Cover image: Crows are Chased and the Chasing Crows are Destined to be Chased as well, Transcending Space, teamLab, 2017, Interactive Digital Installation, 4min 20sec, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab

Vortex of Light Particles teamLab, 2018, Digital Installation, Continuous Loop © teamLab
Graffiti Nature: Lost, Immersed and Reborn teamLab, 2018, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab
Black Waves teamLab, 2016, Digital Installation, Continuous Loop, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab
Enso teamLab, 2017, Digital Work, 18min 30sec (loop) © teamLab
Amos Rex Art Museum © Tuomas Uusheimo
Amos Rex Art Museum © Tuomas Uusheimo

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