While visiting Kyoto during the summer, I went to see the magically whimsical light installation put together by teamLab at Tadasu no Mori and Shimogamo Shrine that took place during the last two weeks of August.
teamLab: Resonating Trees
In Tadasu No Mori (Forest of Correction), the trees along the forest path leading to Shimogamo Shrine were lit up in an installation called Resonating Trees. Each tree was lit independently and had a hidden speaker nearby that emitted musical tones that corresponded to the changing colors. The colors (and their corresponding musical tones) changed according to the presence and movement of people. The color of light shining on an individual tree could also radiate out to affect other trees, which would begin to resonate with the same color and musical tone. You can see his effect in the video by teamLab:
When I was there, however, the effect was very different. As there were a lot of people there at the event’s opening, the lights and tones were changing rapidly, as in the following video:
teamlab: Resonating Spheres
The courtyard at Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社) was filled with large glowing floating spheres. These spheres would change color (and musical tone) when touched by people. As in the forest installation, the colors of an individual sphere could radiate out and cause other spheres nearby to resonate with the same color and give off the same musical tone. If thre was a sphere left unattended, it was almost impossible to resist the urge to reach out and touch it.
The Installation’s Aim
According to teamLab, the aim of the installation was to change relationships among people by making the presence of other people a positive experience. As people walk through the forest path and into the courtyard of the shrine, their presence and movement cause the colors and musical tones around them to change. Thus, a stranger walking by is no longer someone to ignore or be annoyed with; he/she becomes a co-conspirator in a shared artistic experience.
The positive nature of human contact is also presented through the idea of resonance. Like the manner in which the light color and musical tone emanating from a tree or sphere can influence the lights and sounds around them, our own moods can influence (and be influenced by) those around us and radiate outwards, ‘infecting’ more and more people.
Setting the light installation in a sacred forest and an important Shinto shrine also draws the visitors’ attention to their relationship with nature, tradition and spirituality.
The light festival at Shimogamo-jinja and Tadasu no Mori (糺の森) opened during Obon, the annual festival in which Japanese honor the spirits of their ancestors. Activities related to this festival often revolve around lanterns, which are floated down rivers or across ponds or are attached to graves. These lanterns are intended to guide the spirits back to their homes. Could the glowing spheres of this installation also serve as a more modern representation of the traditional Obon lanterns?
According to teamLab’s website,
teamLab is a collective, interdisciplinary creative group that brings together professionals from various fields of practice in the digital society: artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects, web and print graphic designers and editors. Referring to themselves as “Ultra-technologists,” their aim is to achieve a balance between art, science, technology and creativity.www.team-lab.net
Comprised of Shimogamo Shrine (www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/english.html) and the surrounding sacred grove of Tadasu No Mori, Kamo-jinja is a Shinto sanctuary complex that is said to protect Kyoto from malign influences. It is situated in northeast Kyoto within the delta of two rivers: Takano-gawa and Kamo-gawa.
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.
More about the Installation
Official Website: light-festival.team-lab.net/en/
Another Article about teamLab
teamlab Planets (Tokyo): An Amazing Interactive Art Experience
The teamLab collective has really taken off in recent years. In Tokyo, they now have a permanent exhibition space in Tokyo as well as a year-long exhibition (Planets). I visited the Planets exhibition and wrote about it here: artjouer.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/teamlab-planets-tokyo/
Higher resolution images (e.g. 2048 x 1365) can be viewed online at:
- Flickr: Chion-ji Handicrafts Market, Tadasu no Mori, Shimogamo Shrine, teamLab light exhibit
- Google Photos: Chion-ji Handicrafts Market, Tadasu no Mori, Shimogamo Shrine, teamLab light exhibit
- What do you think about this installation?
- What was the effect of having a temple and sacred grove as the setting for their installation?
- What was the effect of using spheres? Why do you think spheres (and not other shapes) were used?
It would be quite a challenge to try to mimic this installation, but have you tried light painting? The challenge this time is to create a light painting photo. You can find out more about light painting here: lightpaintingphotography.com.
~ text and photos by longzijun
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