TeamLab Borderless: a new digital-art museum is coming to Jeddah in 2023

Emilee Geist

The Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia has announced plans for a new digital-art museum in Jeddah to showcase work by teamLab.

The space, called TeamLab Borderless Jeddah, will open in 2023 and will house experiential pieces by the interdisciplinary collective, which comprises artists, programmers, engineers, computer graphics animators, mathematicians, architects and graphic designers. Founded in Tokyo in 2001, teamLab have become famous for their embrace of digital technology and the importance that they place on the symbiotic relationship between art and the viewer.

Their work is articulated in light, sound and touch, programmed to respond to multisensory stimuli. In one piece, Multi-Jumping Universe, visitors spring on enormous flexible floors as their movement directs the flow of light and music around them; in Hopscotch for Geniuses: Bounce on the Water visitors hop on to shapes that appear on the floor, triggering the appearance of fish, insects and other animals. Other installations travel across gallery spaces, changing every time with new visitors.

In 2018, teamLab opened its first permanent exhibition, teamLab Borderless, at the Mori Museum in Tokyo, in which their work is spread across 10,000 square metres. A second, teamLab Planets, also opened that year in Tokyo, and will run until the end of 2022. The permanent teamLab Borderless Shanghai outpost opened last year. “Borderless” refers to the way the artworks travel across rooms and other established parameters of interactivity.

The Jeddah museum will open in 2023 near Al Balad, the city’s old town and Unesco World Heritage Site, and plans are under way for a second museum to open later in Riyadh. A children’s section will focus on science and arts education and the museum is intended to be a tourist attraction for those in the city as well as across the region. Saudi Arabian artists and creatives will also be involved in the project, though the exact capacity of this collaboration has not yet been confirmed. The teamLab agreement is for 10 years and is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 framework and the Quality of Life programme, under which the country is developing its cultural outings.

A member of the Japanese art and technology collective teamLab posing in June 2018 at teamLab planets in Tokyo. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) 
A member of the Japanese art and technology collective teamLab posing at teamLab Planets in Tokyo, June 2018. AFP

With teamLab Borderless Jeddah, the Ministry of Culture is investing in a museum that chimes with the popularity of digital art in Saudi, as well as in the Gulf, such as the Rain Room at the Sharjah Art Foundation.

TeamLab’s work follows in the Japanese tradition of immersive tech environments and interdisciplinary workplaces, from Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms to the “Superflat” ethos of Takashi Murakami’s art.

Updated: September 14, 2020 07:22 PM

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