Outdoor Night Museum in Japan Turns Nature Into Art

These days, just being outside can feel like a luxury. Japan’s leading digital art studio is betting that will continue even after the pandemic.

TeamLab, a Tokyo-based company known for its award-winning psychedelic installations throughout the world’s biggest cities, is branching into outdoor exhibitions. The group has formed a new subsidiary dedicated to creating electronic art works for parks and gardens, and is partnering with hotels and museums to exhibit the pieces.

The move comes as virus-weary travelers are already shifting their vacations outside to potentially lower infection risk, ditching luxury hotels for campgrounds and private dining rooms for outdoor grills. TeamLab is piggybacking on that trend by developing attractions specifically for outdoor spaces, which are often underused at night. Moving outside also expands the scale of the works, allowing the studio to transform entire buildings into art sites.

“The meaning of luxury is changing,” said Takashi Kudo, global brand director at TeamLab. “It’s a new relationship between humans and artwork because you can stay inside the artwork.”

Kudo‘s showpiece of luxury for the post-pandemic world is at Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel, located inside a 175-year old garden in southwest Japan. TeamLab has outfitted the 500,000 square meter property with thousands of sensors, lights and projectors, most of which are hidden from plain sight. The result is an experience akin to a theme park, museum, garden and nightclub rolled into one.

Among the 22 artworks on site is a lake that displays fireworks and digital fish at night. Bushes glow when people walk by, creating a soothing ripple of cascading lights.

But as any rained-out restaurant or bug-infested hotel pool manager will tell you, putting yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature is risky. That’s where TeamLab thinks it has already begun figuring out the nuts and bolts of bringing luxury to the outdoors….

“Our output uses light so we don’t destroy nature. During the day you can still walk around in it, but at night it becomes art. We think this is a luxurious lifestyle,” said Kudo.

“Of course we are still bothering nature or animals. Sometimes the animals will chew our cables.”

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