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A Digital Universe At The ArtScience Museum

ArtScience Museum’s first-ever permanent exhibition is an experiential destination with 15 high-tech digital artworks by Japanese art collective teamLab. Stephanie Peh writes.

BY Janice Seow

6 April, 2016

Top image: Crystal Universe, Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of teamLab

Occupying almost a quarter of the ArtScience Museum, FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science – unveiled 12 March 2016 – is the Museum’s debut permanent exhibition. Through digital technology, Future World takes visitors on a journey in contemplation of the natural world, urban landscapes and cosmic universe.

The 15 installations on display were conceived by interdisciplinary Japanese art collective, teamLab. Co-curated by the ArtScience Museum from teamLab’s body of work, Future World marks the art collective’s first and largest permanent exhibition outside of Japan, and is slated to be updated over time. “We intend to continually refresh the exhibition as science and technology evolve. In doing so, we hope to encourage visitors to keep coming back to the exhibition and co-create with other visitors in the space,” says Mr. Toshiyuki Inoko, founder of teamLab. 

Media Block Chair, Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

Segmented into four chapters, Nature, Town, Park and Space, some installations were designed to be reactive to the audience presence and participation, or natural occurrences such as the four seasons, as these installations evolve dynamically over time, ensuring that no two visits to Future World will be identical.

The important thing for us when we were imagining the show is that we really wanted to create a world, rather than a traditional exhibition experience. It is a bit like going to a national park or garden where you go back again and again. And every time you go back, it is an incredibly enriching experience,” says Ms. Honor Harger, Executive Director of ArtScience Museum.

Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Year; Ever Blossoming Life II – A Whole Year per Year at Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

‘Nature’, the first installation, consists of three artworks, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Year; Ever Blossoming Life II – A Whole Year per Year; and Dark and Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders. Moving projections of flora and fauna fill a room and gently transform throughout the year, in tandem with the four seasons. At the same time, the plants and butterflies respond to the presence of visitors, in exploration of the intricate relationship shared between mankind and nature.

100 Years Sea Animation Diorama at Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of teamLab

Future World helps to generate the understanding, where art and science meet – the coming of age of the digital world,” says Harger. The final showcase of ‘Nature’, 100 Years Sea Animation Diorama depicts the scenario of rising sea levels over a century brought about by climate change, based on data retrieved from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).

Condensed into a ten-minute period, the peak of the installation sees the viewer being swallowed by the rising sea. “To address some of the challenges we face today, we need to understand that we are in and not outside of the natural world,” she added.

Universe of Water Particles, Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of teamLab

A lighthearted piece, Sketch Town, portrays an artificial town in a large projected screen inspired by Singapore with key landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, or the Merlion. Visitors of all ages are invited to infuse the artwork with their own paper cars, buildings or spaceships that becomes animated, adding life to the town.

Sketch Town, Future World at ArtScience Museum. Photograph courtesy of teamLab

On why teamLab was chosen for its first permanent exhibition, Harger says, “We believe that where art and science meet, the future is made. So, we are naturally drawn to teamLab’s extraordinary work. Their fluid combination of artistic expression, technological ingenuity, scientific enquiry, and their insistence that, ‘we are the future’ makes them ideal partners for ArtScience Museum.”

Visit FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science at the ArtScience Museum.


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