Design Feature #24

Flower of Life

teamLab

Written by Kit Chan
Translated by Derek leung
Photos by teamLab

A completely dark room sees one walking in and standing still, followed by illuminated images of blossoms and greens suddenly flying out from the individual's body, and when the one is about to leave, the flowers and leaves look conscious and will gradually scatter, fade and vanish...

One will always be in the spotlight whatever the movement is. This is the fate of the flowers, the living of a life, and the repetition of reincarnation.

These images illustrating the life of flowers compose the work of teamLab, a multimedia creative team from Japan, showcased this summer. Originating from Tokyo and digitally projected, all flowers and plants mutated organically from one's actions. Rather than an exhibition, it was indeed an experience that opens one's heart and various senses, thus the life-unveiling title of Transcending Boundaries being able to show its eye-catching side of underlying brilliance.

Founded by Toshiyuki Inoko in 2001 and composed of a huge group of some 400 professionals including painters, engineers, animators, mathematicians and architects, teamLab has been making frequent contribution of ambitious works combining numerous elements of vision, music, interaction and animation. This is its dedication to the construction of a world of extraordinary magnificence and of fantasy with oriental sense of Zen that earns its overwhelming popularity in recent times.

While Transcending Boundaries is among teamLab's thematic art projects this year that takes "flowers", an object somehow vulnerable but indeed mighty, to materialise the infinity of Nature, another named Infinity of Flowers inside Small Things shows the relationship of a flower and merely a daily tiny cup of tea: the floating flower blossoms upon tranquility of tea and silently vanishes when the teacup is on hold, whereas the flower show comes to an official end upon finish of the tea.

Meanwhile, the flowers projected to meander along the stream in the canvas-like screen in Flowers Bloom in the Gorge of Oboke Koboke, Northern Tokushima, Shikoku demonstrates the inexplicable splendour within and beyond reality.

When asked out of curiosity if a flower epitomises infinity and vicissitude of life, teamLab responded a flower is by all means an aesthetic symbol since even a short-lived plant like sakura or shara in Japan in particular represents both the glee of the living and the grief of the demise. This is why the last spring visit to the Kunisaki peninsula covered by a hill of sakura and brassica flamed a sentimental touch beyond art: the ignorance of the quantity of natural and mangrown ones in the sea of flowers draws a delicate and exquisite line between human behaviours and Nature.

Besides the stunning beauty, teamLab has another definition for the flower and fruit bearing plants. "Unlike the seedy species including pine and cypress, they make extra efforts to bring the good by offering food and energy for the biological world ranging from bees and birds to humans."

Other than the practical and functional needs humans' love to flowers is simply an inborn aesthetic. "It seems somewhat too much but flowers somehow remind us of the protection of Nature once they still exist when Nature is being destroyed by modern civilization," claimed teamLab.

This probably explains why they carry out instant illustration through e-programming instead of advance image production or replication. From their perspective, the audience accounts for an essential part in the creation and only with this in mind will there be a poetic bonding between the flowers and the people, which are "to see and be seen".

Flowers aside, conventional Japanese symbolic images including crows, fish, water painting and calligraphy are always incorporated into the most advanced technology for reinterpretation of the vintage classics.

"After years of evolvement, people probably forget how those in the past appreciated the world. If we had dug into details of the past, we should have figured out some clues in tye future," explained teamLab.

Hence, not only is teamLab presently engaged in multimedia creative development, but it also serves as an intermediary to present through e-language the relationships among the people, Nature, the society, the history and the arts, pinpointing the importance of reflection after appreciation as well as the desperate difference between the affecting art of life and the affected life.

Though fantastically visible, every single work of teamLab is uncontrollably individual, where you can only try your best to embrace and enjoy before letting it go.