29/03/2015 - Universe of Water Particles

Video captation of the projection mapping of a waterfall simulation onto the Grand Palais by TeamLab during Art Paris Art Fair at Paris from March 26th to March 29th, 2015.

The simulation of the waterfall was created by calculating the movement of water as it was allowed to fall on a 3-D model of the Grand Palais in a virtual 3-D space.

The water is expressed as continuum of hundreds of thousand of water particles that flow in accordance with how the computer calculates the interaction of the particles. Lines are then drawn over the particles to express the waterfall. The waterfall video artwork consists of a 3-D waterfall created in a 3-D virtual space in accordance with what we call “Ultra Subjective Space”.

Concept of “Universe of Water Particles”

In traditional Japanese painting, oceans, rivers and bodies of water are expressed as a curvilinear series of lines. These lines give the impression of life, as though water itself were a living creature.

Did our ancestors perceive the world in the same manner as they depicted water in painting, as a living entity?

Why did our ancestors express water, the living energy coursing through rivers and oceans, in this way?

Is it because they perceived the world in the same manner as they depicted it in painting?
What implications did the notion of Nature being a living creature that they are an integral part of, have on their perceptions of the world?

We feel that Universe of Water Particles embodies an integration of the modern objective world, as regulated by common sense, and the subjective world of our ancestors.

Based on these ideas, we created water particles in a virtual 3D environment and expressed the materiality of water as a continuum of particles that flow in accordance with the laws of physics. We thought about how the ancient Japanese might have understood space and time. We reasoned that while compiling visual information in their minds, they would have experienced time on a longer axis. Stemming from this idea, we created a time lag during the simulation of the particles that left an afterimage. Following which, we formed lines from the afterimages.

When viewing the work, if one feels that rather than just it being a physical simulation of a waterfall, there is something within the lines from which they feel a presence of life, then perhaps there is an element of that subjectivity of our ancestors that is extant in our objective perceiving of the world today.

Furthermore, if one, drawn in by this universe of particles, feels as though they are immersed in the work, and does not feel a barrier between them and the waterfall – such as one might feel when looking at a video recording of an actual waterfall – or maybe even feel one’s soul fusing with the lines of water/living energy, then perhaps they will be able to comprehend the connection between the ancient Japanese’s system of perception and their attitudes and behavior towards the world.

Nature is not just an object of our observation. We believe that the concept of being an integral part of Nature and the behavior it entails arose because our Japanese ancestors viewed rivers, oceans, etc. as living entities, and this made it easy to attach the concept onto themselves. Meaning to say, such modes of perception make it very easy for one to feel no boundary or separation from their environment.

This begets the question in today’s context, why is it that despite seemingly having an innate understanding that we are an integral part of this macrocosm, do our behavior and actions portray the opposite, as though we as individuals are independent of the world.

Today, despite seemingly having an innate understanding that we are an integral part of this macrocosm, why do we act as though there is a boundary between us and the environment, that we are independent of the world?

It is our hope that through this approach to perception in our work, we will somehow be able to reach into the past and rediscover some of these lost connections with the world that our ancestors embodied in relation to that of current ways of seeing and interaction.

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