teamLab & TikTok, teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna
Report Part 2
22 March – 31 August 2021
◆ Three TeamLab immersive art installations
After each set of sauna and cold shower is the time to take a rest with one of the three art installations. Each art space is dimly lit, like a cocoon of comfort and silence – chatting is not banned here, though.
[Art 1: Levitation – Flattening Red and Blue & Blurred Violet]
A sphere is floating in the space in front of you. This balloon-like object, not tied to a wire, levitates or sinks in three dimensions, jiggles from one side to another, and comes back to the center.
It’s a strange movement that doesn’t look like following the law of universal gravitation. The sphere just goes along with the flow of air generated by the movement of people in the room.
[Art 2: Proliferating Immense Life – A Whole Year per Year]
This art installation resembles a Japanese painting on the folding screens, at least in the beginning. The animation starts like a piece of folding-screen art from the medieval Azuchi-Momoyama period, with a stalk of flowers wonderfully structured and spaced in one corner, set against a background of subdued shades of brown, instead of gold-leaf screens.
Then the plant grows, burgeoning and blossoming. It proliferates across the canvas, almost triumphantly, occupying and conquering every single corner. But before long, it starts decaying and dying, scattering flower petals.
In this animation, the three-dimensional image projected on the two-dimensional screen transforms its shapes in reaction to the presence of the audience. Moreover, the featured flowers change from season to season. So there is no flower that blooms in the same way again. It is a once-in-a-lifetime flower that shows a different appearance each time you visit.
While I sat with fellow visitors in front of the picture screen in silence, I felt alone, becoming aware of the inevitable solitude in the universe, the impermanence of this existence, in a perpetual cycle of life and death.
[Art 3: Ephemeral Solidified Light]
If the first art installation seems “atemporal” and the second “temporal”, the third installation feels futuristic, a bit like in a sci-fi movie scene.
The space is enchanted with filaments of light falling like rain from the ceiling. In actuality, they are threads of cold water, glowing with light effects. Depending on how the light hits it, a thread may look like dripping down, or the other way round, rising upward. When you touch a certain tone of colour with your hand, that shade spreads and dissipates in the space.
The nice thing about this art is that you can immerse in it to substitute for a cold shower after sauna!
◆ Sauna people, few “grammers”
We visited on a Monday, around noon. Yet the place was busy, with a mixed crowd of men and women, young and middle-aged; alone, in couples or with friends; professionals, free-lancers, students and more.
The teamLab installations usually attract flock of young instagrammers, like at the teamLab Planets in Toyosu or the teamLab Borderless in Odaiba. But the case seems different here. Few snap selfies, even though it is allowed (as long as your camera tolerates heat and humidity).
Most of the visitors just take pleasure in sauna and cold shower, and quietly immerse themselves in art – at their own pace and in their own terms.
◆ Art beyond sauna
The crux is that this does not stop at a mere sauna complex. You are to take, not just one, but three sets of sauna and cold shower.
And in between, you spend time with an immersive art.
Art is woven into the sauna sessions as part of the ritual sequence. It is a soothing respite, a meditative intermission, a bit like sitting on the engawa of a zen pebble garden.
It is this “space” that will take you to reach “there”, to the point where sweating in a sauna alone cannot. Thanks to the immersive art sessions, the sauna and cold shower effect will be deeper, more intense and lasting. This is something that I have never obtained from a spa experience alone.
◆ Mindfulness for the lazy
The impact is curiously close to that of “forest bathing”, like immersing yourself in nature – even though the setting is a modern indoor sauna complex combined with digital art installations. Added to this restoring effect is a feeling of a warm, relaxed and detoxed body.
But much more than that, the teamLab Reconnect turned out to be a superb “mindfulness” experience.
That was exactly what I felt when sitting calmly in the room of “Levitation” after a sauna set – and even for the life after the visit.
The sphere and I are separate entities, but a strange feeling creeps up on me, as though we are connected. As I am aware of this, I watch that happening from somewhere outside of it. Like in a mindfulness meditation, as I realized.
Your bodily senses transform through sauna, which in turn transforms the way you connect yourself with art, surroundings and nature. You “reconnect” with them. This quiet time of sitting offers you a chance to live that experience.
For me, this peculiar feeling continued, even after leaving the teamLab complex. For the next 24 hours or more, my senses sharpened and I became aware of the surroundings, while keeping a soothing sense of serenity.
The greatest thing is that you don’t have to go through any intricate rituals in order to achieve that state. No muscle pains are required, either, to get into a trance or a runner’s high.
Just enjoy sauna and art.
That is the marvel of the teamLab Reconnect.
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