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In Crystal Universe (above), you feel like you're creating your own night sky.

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Inoko (above) says that people become part of the artwork when they cause the space to change.

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In Flowers & People, Cannot Be Controlled But Live Together (above), if you stand still and observe, the flowers will bloom.

What art looks like in the future

Japan's most famous "geek" collective teamLab is set to take ArtScience Museum to the next level.
Feb 26, 2016 5:50 AM

HERE'S art everyone can like: high-tech, shimmering, wonder-filled worlds that take you out of the present and into the realm of the fantastical. Blending art and science seamlessly, these large-scale installations are guaranteed to thrill the young. And even the most jaded of tech geeks or art buffs won't quibble with the high level of artistic and technological sophistication.

The works are designed by teamLab, Japan's premier artist-technologist collective comprising some 450 artists, architects, 4-D animators, engineers and mathematicians. So cutting-edge are these works, they make the "trick eye" museums that were something of the rage last year look like cheesy, old-school attractions.

These works are set to show at Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum's first permanent collection next month.

Toshiyuki Inoko, teamLab's crystal ball-gazing co-founder, says: "These 15 works that ArtScience Museum selected are the best showcase of what teamLab does."

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Among the highlights of the 1,500 square metre exhibition is an interactive virtual garden called Flowers & People, Cannot Be Controlled But Live Together. The room-sized work surrounds the viewer with flowers budding, blooming and withering. If a person stands still and observes, the flowers would bloom. But if that person touches or steps on the flowers, they fade and in their place new flowers emerge.

Real time

Inoko says: "We don't use pre-recorded images or looped animations. The work is being rendered in real time by a computer programme. The interaction between the viewer and the installation causes continuous changes in the artwork. Previous visual states can never be replicated and never re-occur."

The principle of the artwork reinventing itself for each unique visitor applies to other artworks. Crystal Universe, for instance, is a three-dimensional light space filled with "little stars" that change colours and intensity based on your interactions with them. You feel like you're creating your own night sky.

Inoko says: "We believe in using digital means to expand space and influence the relationships between people in the space. Up till now, the presence of people when viewing art has been seen as disruptive. But at a teamLab exhibition, the presence and interaction of other viewers enrich the art experience for each viewer. When people in the digital art space cause the space to change, they become part of the artwork."

The ArtScience Museum's exhibition isn't teamLab's first foray into Singapore. In 2012, Ikkan Art Gallery brought in their works which proved to be a hit with collectors. At Art Stage 2013, Ikkan sold more than a dozen teamLab artworks priced from US$35,000 within a day.

Later that year, teamLab's massive installation Peace Can Be Realised Even Without Order at the Singapore Biennale 2013 was an audience favourite. It filled a large room with various animated human and anthropomorphic characters who play music for you when you come across them.

teamLab exhibition at the ArtScience Museum will be open to the public on March 12. Ticketing details will be released later