Since having children, my priorities have shifted somewhat, to say the least. One of the areas that has changed is what art exhibitions I look for when taking my girls with me. Of course I would love for them to appreciate "traditional" art forms, too, but the last time I tried, we were hushed so many times that it was not fun for anyone involved. That's when I started looking for more interactive exhibitions where it's okay for children to act like...well, children. My little one in particular wants to touch Every. Single. Thing. she sees, which is probably normal for her age, but it has made going to museums rather...um...challenging. My older child isn't like that, but I had to adapt my approach to keep all of us happy.
One recent exhibition we visited was DMM.PLANETS Art by teamLab, which is an art collective. It was part of a summer festival type event happening in Odaiba, Tokyo and I thought that this would be a nice way to kick off our summer holiday.
I had seen some amazing photographs from the exhibition before we went, and I was particularly excited about the "Wander through the Crystal Universe" installation. This was my favorite part of the whole exhibition. Digital modern art. There is no way my photos can recreate the experience of winding your way through the maze of LED lights and mirrors, but I hope these will give you some idea of how magical it felt to us.
I should mention that when we entered the exhibition maze, the first room we fell into (because I did literally fall into the room) was the "Soft Black Hole." The floor was all cushioned and it was like trying to walk on super soft sand. Unfortunately, I could not get a decent photograph inside because it was so dark and because I kept stumbling, but it really was like sinking into...a soft, black hole, hahaha. I guess the title tells you what you need to know!
There was a room with a planetarium-type set-up, where you could lie on cushions on the floor and experience wave after wave of flowers floating overhead ("Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers"), but what my girls enjoyed the most was what they called "The Water Room." The actual title is "Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People." Yes, a bit of a mouthful, that.
We walked through the dark passageways, turning this way and that before we reached a hallway where the water started out shallow and then went up to our knees once we stepped into the room. My girls were fascinated by the images of flowers and koi projected onto the white water, and at one point I thought my little one was going to take a dive going after the fish!
Looks a bit freaky, but trust me, those are koi swimming about in the water. Needless to say, it was a good thing that I brought a change of clothing the way she tried to catch them.
When I asked them which part of the show was their favorite, it was unanimous. The Water Room, of course. If you're in Tokyo this summer, the exhibition goes until August 31, 2016.
The other exhibit we went to was also really fun for the kids -- oh, who am I kidding? It was really fun for the adults, too! It was the "Magical Art Museum: Illusion of Light and Shadow" show at the Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art in Shinjuku, Tokyo. (You can read about it in English here.) It runs until August 28, 2016. There were so many fun parts of this exhibit that I will just share a few favorites.
The first room ("Lifelog Chandelier") was my personal favorite; the kids were not as impressed as I was. I loved the play of light on all the feathers, and the way that they moved in the wind, creating shadows all over the walls, was really magical. I think I could have stayed in that room the entire time, but the girls were eager to see what else there was in store.
I also liked the idea that "Pixel Forest" was proposing. You were given blank books and asked to discover all the different stories by following the moving images around the room.
"Ensemble Silhouette" was also really popular with the children. At first, they were puzzled as to how to make music, but then they quickly figured out that the rotating digital "guitar" would play music based on where you put the moveable black stars. So in effect, the stars were the musical notes. It's a lovely concept, and the collaboration between light and music was very appealing.
My older daughter's absolute favorite part of the whole show was the "Dancing Mirror" where you stood in front of a giant screen onto which you were projected at a few seconds' delay -- and with all your movements speeded up. It was hilarious to watch, and everyone doing it (as well as everyone watching) was cracking up the whole time. I'm just sorry I don't have a video to share with you.
This one's from "Immersive Shadow." I don't think I really captured the spirit of it, but I can assure you the girls loved it because it looked like their shadows were floating in water, which seemed so magical to them.
I will leave you with one last image from the installation. It's of the girls dancing in front of projections of giant butterflies. I was surprised they liked this one because it was quite simple compared to some of the other ones. But I suppose sometimes all you need are some rainbow-colored shadows and magical butterflies to inspire some impromptu dancing.