"In the mind there are no boundaries between ideas and concepts," reads a quote that marks the beginning of Transcending Boundaries, digital art collective teamLab's new exhibit at London's Pace Gallery. "Boundaries are created when ideas and concepts are materialized in the real world."
Though the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, an "idea" is defined as "a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action," while a concept is "an abstract idea." In the mind, conception and action flow into each other — as teamLab says, it's only "in the real world" that the two are separated. In creating works that know no confines, seamlessly bridging idea and concept, teamLab transcends not just boundaries, but the "real world" itself.
The first of the exhibit's three rooms contains six works, though teamLab makes it incredibly challenging to identify what these individual works are. They aren't six paintings on the wall, or six separate sculptures. Instead, these swirling, colorful digital pieces literally transcend the boundaries that usually divide works of art. Digitally rendered butterflies from Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, Ephemeral Life flit across the space with no respect for the sovereignty of the room's other pieces. They dance into Enso, which is one of the exhibit's more traditional works, in that it's contained by a frame and hangs on a wall. Enso takes its title from the zen art of drawing circles with single brush strokes, and the piece features such circles being created from the digital ether over and over, rendered in three dimensions. The same butterflies merge perfectly with the room's most awe-inspiring installation, Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries. In it, a waterfall flows serenely down the far wall and onto the floor, catching visitors up in the stream.
The second room contains only one work, the calmest and most meditative of the group, made all the more so by its isolation. Dark Waves simulates the movement of water in 3D. The motion of the work is just as hypnotic as that of real water, but the piece has a sinister edge as dark as its title promises.
Between the second and third rooms is a small room lit with blindingly white light. It's a shock to the system, like emerging from warm water after an evening swim, and resets your eyes before entering the final piece. Flowers Bloom on People is the most interactive work of the exhibit, so interactive that without the presence of observers, it doesn't exist. It's much as the title says — when people enter the room, projected flowers bloom all over their bodies, while more blossoms spread on the ground at their feet. Each interaction between visitor and work is unique, as the flowers generate neither on a loop nor are they pre-recorded. In the other rooms the viewer is observer, but here she's a participant, becoming herself part of the work.
"When we came across teamLab, it seemed like they were a unique collective of artists at the forefront of art and technology, especially involved in immersive experiences," says Pace London Director Elliot McDonald. "They keep pushing the boundaries of physicality, light, and space. The decision to represent them and stage exhibitions worldwide was a pretty easy one to make."