For those who don't remember the first exhibition, it was a massive effort, staged in a pop-up space (a former car dealership) in Menlo Park. Twenty interactive, immersive exhibits were situated throughout the building in a museum-type installation, with none of the objects for sale. During the course of its 10-month run, over 200,000 entry tickets were sold, which is probably one reason the gallery has invited the group back for a smaller, more intimate show where all the works are available for purchase.
"Digital" is the key word in understanding the basis of teamLab's working method. All of their art is made by computer using complex graphic algorithms. Some pieces also include recorded video.
"Everything we do is digital," teamLab founder Toshiyuki Inoko said, "and everything is the latest technology, so it is natural for us to explore and experiment."
Most of the pieces displayed at Pace have facets of nature (water, flowers, birds, etc.) as subject matter.
"We want to always explore the relationship between humans and nature, and also the boundaries between humans and nature," Inoko explained.
The way the teamLab artists explore this relationship may use ultra-modern technology, but the imagery reflects a very traditional approach and one that is uniquely Asian, the use of "ultrasubjective space." Collective member Kazumasa Nonaka explained that, unlike Western art, which relies upon various uses of perspective to achieve depth and space, the teamLab artist strives to give the viewer the feeling of being one with the art. He cited "Waves of Light" (2018), a piece that involves a continuous series of calligraphic lines that look like waves ebbing and flowing in the ocean.
"This piece was not rendered in perspective because that separates us from the world," he said. "We want the viewer to get inside the frame."
"Our work is all about continuity," noted Inoko. "It is about the flow of life, of time, of water — the rhythm of life."
That sense of continuity is sometimes presented in a very literal way, as in the "Fleeting Flower Series, Chrysanthemum Tiger (2017)." In this single-channel work, thousands of colorful flowers bloom, flow, float and eventually form a large peacock that slowly moves his head. Stay a while longer and the flowers morph into a tiger.
There are two works that take a more abstract approach: "Enso" and "Impermanent Life" (both 2017). These pieces operate on a continuous loop and depict swooping black brush strokes against a gray background. The strokes change and move in a circular manner, influenced by the Zen paintings made by monks for thousands of years.
As with the "Waves of Light," watching the strokes flow and reform across the nine monitors is mesmerizing; one can imagine sitting in a living room and enjoying a meditative session of quiet reflection while gazing at the continuously changing scene.
The largest installation, for which the show is named, is a riot of color, movement and transfiguration. It gives you the feeling of standing over a tide pool, watching the plants and flowers gently wave from side to side, followed by an explosion of blue, red, purple, and yellow petals that take over the screen. Befitting its name, this nine-channel work loops continuously.
If you can't pop into the gallery, stop by and look into the front windows. All of the pieces will be running, with several changing ("Waves of Light" will transition from gold leaf to a black background) after dark — very appropriate for an exhibition that addresses the contrasting concepts of continuity and impermanence. The exhibition runs through Jan. 13 at 229 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. Go to pacegallery.com.
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