Records of Japanese gardens can be found as early as 720 in the Nihon Shoki and enjoyment of these aesthetic spaces used to be the privilege of the ruling class. These days, of course, traditional Japanese gardens, old and new, can be found all over the country and can be visited by anyone at all who is looking for a peaceful stroll.

Now, thanks to Team Lab’s digital art, there’s an exciting new way to enjoy this historical pastime by merging the beauty of tradition with the beauty of new technology.

Ritsurin Garden in Kagawa prefecture, which was constructed during the early Edo period and is one of the most important historical gardens in Japan, has become Team Lab’s latest setting for one of their famed digital art events. The art collective is known for their brand of interactive exhibitions which blur the lines between the art and viewer and challenge our perceptions of the relationship between the two.

There will be eight installations in total, all of which will be affected by the presence or physical touch of the viewer, as well as by forces of nature such as the wind.

For example, seasonal flowers from throughout the year all bloom in the space of one hour upon the wall of Mount Shiun in a piece called ‘Ever Blossoming Life Rock Wall’.

Water is an intrinsic feature of a traditional Japanese garden, and Ritsuin Garden’s Kansui Pond will play host to two installations, ‘Floating Resonating Lamps’ on the surface of the water, and ‘Life is Continuous Light’ in the trees, stones and island. The presence of a person beside the water will cause a Venetian glass sphere on the pond to change colour and emit a particular tone. This resonates through the lamps and reaches the trees on the island, where other participants can experience it.

Allowing not just the viewers to interact with the art, but for the installations themselves to affect and work with each other is a common element of Team Lab’s exhibitions.

Early bird tickets (which can save you a few hundred yen) are currently on sale until 24th January, but tickets can be bought on site while the event is going on also. The event is running from 25th January until 8th March 2020 and will only be open in the evenings. More information is available on Team Lab’s website.

By - Jess.