You know those people who always seem to be one-step-ahead of the ‘what’s happening’ scene in London? Yep, that’s not me, either. However, as there is a chance Stag and I will be saying goodbye to this wonderful city soon (more on that later!), I’ve been attempting to find out more about the going-ons and happenings. A zillion newsletters and daily emails later, I’m still not one of those people, but I have managed to learn about a few interesting happenings. One of which ended up being the most incredible art-meets-light immersive exhibition: teamLab’s “Transcending Boundaries.”
Trust me when I say, Stag and I were quite lucky to nab these (gloriously FREE) tickets. The show ran from January 25th to March 11th, operating with small groups for 20 minutes at a time. I’m pretty rubbish at math, but that equals a lot of people and a lot of timings, right? Wrong: the tickets sold out in a flash. I kept reminding Stag, “We cannot be late to this!” I’m sure he appreciated the
On the day of our time slot, we spent the morning working and sipping coffee at Rapha Cycle Club, which is a scant few minute walk away from the gallery and allowed us to leave right on time. We found the Pace Gallery tucked away behind Regent’s Street in Mayfair, and we hurried inside to make sure we were at the front of the queue, camera (and for me, my glasses) in tow.
I know I am a writer, but trying to describe the wonder and beauty that is this exhibition has me at a loss for words. Instead, I’ll share with you how Pace Gallery describes the installation:
“The exhibition will explore the role of digital technology in transcending the physical and conceptual boundaries that exist between different artworks, with imagery from one work breaking free of the frame and entering the space of another. The installations also dissolve distinctions between artwork and exhibition space, and involve the viewer through interactivity.”
Flowing through three rooms, we were ushered into the furthest space to begin, and I tried desperately to shut my eyes as we went through the third ‘main’ room to keep the surprise (although I may have peeked a bit). The entire exhibition is dark, with nothing but the art showing and ‘sparkly’ music playing throughout (that is literally the only adjective I can think of to describe that mystical-sounding music).
Before entering the first room, we were given a white sheet to drape over our shoulders. “This helps to reflect the light and show off the art,” a guide explained to us. Upon entering the room, an array of brightly coloured flowers began furling and unfurling everywhere. This theme of blooming and dying, coming and going, furling and unfurling and creation (and destruction) is a common theme throughout the exhibition — as the title suggests, transcending boundaries.
We were lucky to be the only two in the second room, a space bare except for a long corridor of screens on one wall. Blue waves reminiscent of a Japanese painting crested and crashed, flowing between the screens as if one fluid picture. Although less impressive in some regards, this installation was perhaps my favourite, its simplicity mesmerising and profound. Stag and I stayed in this room for a while.
The pièce de résistance was, of course, the third ‘main’ room, the one that we by far took the most videos and pictures of. An immersive waterfall flowed from ceiling to floor, with the light-as-water responding to touch and movement.
That alone was incredible, but for me, it was the butterfly installations along the walls that most piqued my interest. These butterflies fluttered about, bursting forth from picture to picture along the wall, all different colours and shapes. So realistic, yet nothing but light. As we discovered, touching one of them would cause it to fall and die. Again, the delicate space of transcending boundaries really came through in every aspect of the whole exhibition.
The use of light in this exhibition and the immersive nature of the whole exhibition was nothing less than extraordinary. My only complaint, really, was that I would have liked to have known how much time we had left throughout, so I have spent more time in that last and final room.
However, more than this — and perhaps it’s because of my fascination with liminality, thresholds and ‘transcending boundaries’ (two degrees in English lit, after all!) — it was the interplay between the different installations that really struck a chord with me. It was both beautiful and, in some ways, sad. Definitely one I can imagine will linger with me for quite some time.
teamLab at PACE London
6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3ET