The world-leading Japanese digital artwork collective teamLab Borderless just unveiled their brand new awe-inspiring museum dedicated to digital art, the MORI Building Digital Art Museum. Produced in cooperation with urban landscape developer Mori Building Co. Ltd., this wonderful permanent museum is a must-see that spreads out over 2 floors in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. Described as one of Tokyo’s most Instagrammable places, the digital museum lives to the expectations. The light projections, the sounds, and the special effects seem to come straight from the planet Pandora! Goosebumps guaranteed!
I have to say that the concept reminds me a lot of the installations of Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese contemporary artist that I love, with the difference that her works are “analogic”. Both, Kusama and teamLab are influenced by abstract expressionism and counterculture, and they add their own oneiric, sensorial elements to create real interactive and philosophical experiences with their art.
I’ve prepared a visitor’s guide that will assist you to get the most from your time in the museum. Here you go 10 suggestions to best enjoy your visit and also a run-through of the highlights, so you won’t overlook anything!
1. Wear white or light-coloured clothes.
Wearing white and light colors make things far more interesting, as you can mingle into the light screens as they float across the body, making a far more immersive experience. Dark-colored clothing will blend into the shadows and most of the effects won’t be visible. It’s the little details that produce a difference, especially when it comes to getting a fantastic Instagram picture!
2. Wear flat shoes
This is important since there are some areas in the museum where heels are not allowed. If you don’t possess the right footwear, you can borrow a pair of sneakers in the reception area of the museum. But anyway, you’ll be better off using a pair of comfy shoes from the start: there’s a lot to see and do, and you don’t want to shorten your visit or don’t do stuff as climbing and jumping (yes, it’s a very interactive visit!) because your feet are aching and swollen.
3. Store your belongings in the locker
The museum has free lockers at the reception area, and for good a reason. A few of the installations are set up in small spaces which could become congested during certain periods, so if you’ve got a backpack on, the employees will request that you wear it in your front before entering a few of the chambers. As this would restrict your movements, it’s better to leave it safely kept in the lockers.
4. Wear pants
This one may seem like an odd suggestion, but if you look down at the floors you’ll notice the extensive use of mirrored flooring, so using skirts is not a good idea. No further details, you got it.
5. Love a one-of-a-kind tea service in the En Tea House
Japan means cutting-edge tech but also tea and ancient tea rituals! It is possible to quit the crowd for a while and take a quiet break, zen-style, with four distinct kinds of delicious green tea available, all priced at 500 yen (US$4.50) each. There are 3 wrap-around chairs indoors where you can sip your tea in dimly lit surroundings.
But there’s a catch:
First, the staff will come and put an empty tea bowl facing you. Then, the tea is poured and the magic starts, as the tea slowly begins coming to life with distinct floral designs forming on the surface!
The light screen continues within your cup till you lift it up to have a sip, then the blossoms burst, sending petals in all directions! The experience reminds me of some restaurants around the world, like Le Petit Chef and Dinner Time Stories.
It is a tech-zen experience which makes you feel as though you’ve abandoned Earth and gone into a different world, with everybody lost in their thoughts as they gaze into the exceptional patterns within their cup! Did you ever think drinking tea could be so fun?
6. Touch everything
Finally a museum where you can give vent to that urge of touching everything that you had to suppress when walking through priceless pieces of artwork! Nobody will let you know about it prior to going in, but if you touch the pictures on the walls around you while you walk around, the graphics will respond to your touch!
For instance, the installation below, called Peace can be Realised even Without Order includes a seemingly infinite number of life-sized holograms, which respond to moves independently and collectively!
Also amazing is the installation A Musical Wall Where Small Men and Women Live: Seeing the small people and other adorable little things interact with you is a mesmerizing experience that both kids and adults love!
7. Download the teamLab Apps
If you type teamLab in your search bars at Apple Store or Google Play you’ll notice that more than one result will show up. That’s because teamLab has developed some exclusive apps for some of the installations, plus the general app. These apps allow the visitors to interact with the projections in a deeper way. Within the digital museum, the crystals in the installation Wander Through the Crystal Universe change colors and patterns as visitors take part in the light display with the app!
The installation Story of the Forest, for instance, has its own storytelling app, with which you can choose your kawaii cartoon animals to participate in the life of a luxuriant forest:
8. Be prepared to shed your inhibitions and behave like a child
From scaling mild trees and swings to zipping slides down and stepping out into a floating nest, the museum intends to excite all of your senses! Even if you’re walking throughout the balloon-filled Weightless Forest of Resonating Life, you are going to feel like a kid!
There is even a unique interactive Sketch Aquarium where people can make their own virtual sea monsters, simply by selecting one of the available templates and using the colored pens to bring them to life!
As soon as you take your finished masterpiece to a staff member, it will appear and move on the wall!
9. Make sure to have enough time to visit
There are many installations to go through, and because you’ll be interacting with them, make sure you’ll have plenty of time to stay in the Mori Building for as long as you need. It’s easy to devote a whole day to this place.
The Black Waves area is a gorgeous spot to unwind and take a break, with bean bags at the center and Japanese-style waves projected on the curved walls around you. Some people even take a nap there (which is not unusual since the Japanese are famous for sleeping anywhere, thus you won’t feel embarrassed at all if suddenly you start snoring in your sleep!)
PS: Also remember that the place is crowded most of the times, with lines to enter the digital art museum, and to enter the rooms where the most popular attractions, such as the Floating Nest and the Forest of Resonating Lamps, are located. But fret not, it’s so worthy!
10. Register you psychedelic experiences!!
Each of the installations in the Mori Building is simply begging to be photographed. This is an Instagram junkie paradise! The most photographed installations in the teamLab Museum are, understandably, the beautiful Forest of Resonating Lamps (above) and the Floating Nest:
Victim of their success, the visit is limited to only a couple of minutes.
Bonus tip: Get your tickets online in advance! When the tickets are sold out, no one else is allowed in the museum.
Info about access, tickets, opening hours here.
In Paris there’s also a museum destined to light projections and immersive, interactive experiences, the massive Atelier des Lumières; also, if you cannot make it to Tokyo right now, but Paris is on your radar, the TeamLab has a very similar ongoing exhibition in the city. Until the 9 September you’ll be able to see teamLab : Au Dela Des Limites at Park of La Villete: You can watch the Parisian installation teaser below: