If you're in Paris this summer, (or anytime before September 9) you must go see teamLab's incredible digital installation Au-delà des limites. It's located at Parc de la Villette, in the 19th arrondissement in the north side of Paris. A bit of a trek admittedly, but once you are there, there are a ton of options for all ages. A great park that has many attractions for kids: for the younger a wind and dune park, kids theater with biweekly performances, for teens, ziplines and trampolines and an outdoor garden bar and book shops for adults.
Inside the main hall at La Villette is teamLab's Au-delà des Limites, which literally translates to "Beyond Limits". Part of Japonismes 2018, a way to showcase Japanese art and culture throughout France. TeamLab itself is an art collective, interdisciplinary group of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects. Founded in Japan in 2001, it turns the traditional notion of the exhibition space on its head. Instead of a static viewing experience between spectator and art, it's a fully immersive and interactive experience. As you wander through the rooms, the light projectors pick up on your movements and they become part of the performance piece.
What is so remarkable about Au-dèla des limites is that the scenes are rendered in real time, neither pre-recorded animation nor imagery on loop. The work as a whole in in constant flux: the states and interactions observed and experienced are totally random and thus never repeated!
Graffiti Nature- Mountains and Valleys
The exhibit is broken down in to separate rooms with different themes. The first room is Graffiti Nature- Mountains and Valleys representing the interaction of the ecosystem. You can sit and draw animals and flowers and it becomes part of the projected design. The room itself has ramps on the sides so you can climb up and slide down. Meanwhile as you move, the scenes change. If you step on crocodiles too long they will die, yet if you stand still, flowers will blossom around you. And when you walk, the flowers will scatter. You can even climb up the carpeted ramp and down the other side to where the next room starts.
Graffiti Flowers Bombing
As you flow into the next room: Graffiti Flowers Bombing, by sweeping your hands across the walls, you bring flowers to life. They bloom, scatter and die with a touch of your hand. As the flowers disseminate, the trajectory of their petals draw new lines and patterns.
Peace can be realized even without order - dancing people and animals beyond borders.
In this artwork: Peace can be realized even without order - dancing people and animals beyond borders: there are countless translucent figures, yet each character is independent and behaves in an autonomous way. They play instruments and dance, and each individual is influenced by the sounds emanating from the figures nearby.
These two rooms overflow from one wall to the next as you can see in the picture above, with a separate room with clear glass panels that the images are projected onto. When you enter the room and a character senses it, it responds by stopping playing music. If you stay still or quietly leave the room, the figure will start playing music and dance again. This causes a certain tension between viewer and the art, with movement disturbing the harmony of the scene.
One panel flows into the next. Above, bamboo sprouting and growing.
Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well, transcending space
This room: Crows are chased and the chasing crows are destined to be chased as well, transcending space is also separate, but it's more of a looped video performance that projects on all four sides. Unlike the other rooms, they ask you not to touch the walls and to either sit or stand in the center of the room. It has a loud Asian instrumental soundtrack blaring from the speakers which helps to further immerse you in this alternate reality. As they fly around you, the crows leave radiant trails of light in their paths. They chase one another and in turn become chased themselves. When they are about to collide with one another or come too close to you, they scatter, turning into flowers. The animation moves so quickly, that I sat through this one several times as there was always something new to observe. Pretty much everyone sat, but one man stood up in the middle of the room and held his arms up throughout the video.
Universe of water particles on Au-dèla des limites
The waterfall room is the final room and the most impressive. It's an enormous room, like a giant auditorium with the images projecting on all four walls as well as the floor, so the boundary between the wall and the floor disappears. It creates a three dimensional feel to the quickly moving artwork. When you stand or touch the waterfall, you obstruct the flow of water like a rock, thus stopping or modifying its flow.
The laissez-faire attitude is so refreshing about this exhibit. The rooms are not timed, you can stay as long as you like and view them on repeat. You can sit, stand, lay down, dance or just people watch.
Spirits of the flowers
The giant flowers of the four seasons bloom, scatter and blossom before their petals begin to wither and eventually fade away. The cycle of growth and decay repeats itself in perpetuity. If you stay still, more flowers appear, yet when touching the flowers and waling around, the flowers scatter all at once.
Au-dèla des limites is one of the most unique and truly innovative art exhibits I've seen in a long time. Not only is the art technically beautiful and dynamic, but the relaxed nature of the visit is spiritually restorative. One could stay all day if you wanted, there were no time limits or restrictions. Several elementary school classes were there when I visited, contrasting with seniors being pushed in wheelchairs while those in their teens and twenties took selfies. It was the ultimate convergence of young and old, fast and slow. It would be amazing to do a yoga or meditation class in there. We felt relaxed and refreshed as we stepped out to enjoy other parts of La Villette. A must see, either in Paris or if you're headed to Japan to see one of their permanent exhibits.
Au-dèla des limites until September 9, 2018
Grande Halle de la Villette
211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France
Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10am -7pm / Fri & Sat 10am-10pm
Price: 14.90 euro