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Ancient Japanese garden turns into living art with kaleidoscopic exhibit

Digital art collective teamLab has unveiled an incredible new exhibition that sees Kairakuen Garden in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture being transformed into a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic open-air art exhibition. The interactive display features 3000 plum blossom trees, all of which are transformed into living artwork, thanks to ground-breaking technology.

Running from 13 February to 21 March 2021, the exhibition is part of teamLab’s Digitized Nature Project. The interactive show responds to the presence of people, and is being held in conjunction with the 120-year-old Mitu Ume (plum) Festival. The concept of the project is that non-material digital technology can turn nature into art without harming it. The eye-catching, dreamy experience sees vibrant digital projections being cast onto trees, rocks and landscapes, all of which morph and move whenever visitors are present. The outdoor setting also makes it easier to implement COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Humans cannot recognize time longer than their own lifespans. In other words, there is a boundary in our understanding of the long continuity of time. The forms and shapes of nature have been created over many years and have been moulded by the interactions between people and nature. We can perceive this long duration of time in these shapes of nature themselves. By using the shapes, we believe we can explore the boundary in our perception of the long continuity of time,” teamLab said of the exhibition.

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Kairakuen Garden was created at the end of the Edo Period (1842) as a garden centred around a pond, and was designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It is considered to be one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, alongside Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa and Korakuen Garden in Okayama. It is home to around 100 varieties of 3000 plum trees and is famous for its plum blossoms, which bloom over a longer period of time thanks to the diverse collection of varieties.

More information teamLab: Digitized Kairakuen Garden on is available at the official teamLab website.

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