Japan’s teamLab combines museum and sauna in a new digital art experience

TOKYO (Reuters) – A wall of flower petals shatters into a thousand fragments. A huge ball levitates in the air, changing from red to blue and then to purple. Hundreds of butterflies flutter around a screen of tiny water particles.

This is not a museum of modern art, but the latest creation of the Japanese collective of engineers, artists and architects teamLab, anchored around a labyrinth of seven saunas illuminated in shades of red, green and yellow.

The Tokyo-based digital art group took over a wasteland in the glitzy Roppongi district and last year erected a massive tent housing the saunas and three immersive art installations.

“Art is traditionally exhibited in luxurious places like palaces or museums – we wanted to create a luxurious state of mind for people to experience,” said Takashi Kudo, member of the teamLab lab at a demonstration on Saturday.

“TikTok teamLab Reconnect” runs from March 22 to the end of August. For $ 44 on weekdays and $ 53 on weekends, visitors can walk in and out of hot rooms and cold showers, and walk around inside the artwork wearing only swimsuits.

The coronavirus means that the number of seats in the largest saunas has been reduced from 24 to 12 and that ventilation has been adjusted to meet government standards for air circulation.

Kudo stood under dozens of large, mouth-blown glass lamps from Italy. The lamps slowly changed color from burnt orange to magenta, lighting up the dark hallways between the rooms.

The team said they wanted to affect all of the senses, including touch, sound and smell. Aromas such as roasted green tea float in one of the saunas and white birch in another.

“No one goes to an art museum this way because art is art and the sauna is a sauna,” Kudo said, showing off his swimsuit. “What we wanted to try is to combine and offer a very different experience – and a very different experience of this art.”

Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski, Irene Wang and Kim Kyung-Hoon. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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