Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life

teamLab, 2020, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi


Life is an order of energy.
In this artwork space, like life, we created an order of energy. In doing so, a giant white mass is born, and emerges afloat.

The sculpture, a giant white mass, neither sinks down to the floor nor reaches the ceiling, floating as though transcending the concept of mass. The contour of this floating sculpture's existence is ambiguous, becoming smaller when it tears and growing larger when the masses come together. People can enter this sculpture with their entire body, and even if the sculpture breaks, it naturally repairs itself like a living thing. But, as with living things, when the sculpture is destroyed beyond what it can repair, it cannot mend itself, and collapses. Even if people try to move or push this floating sculpture, they cannot do so. If they stir up the wind, the sculpture will scatter.

What is life in biological terms? Viruses, for example, are considered to exist somewhere between living and inanimate because they do not have cells, the smallest unit of biological life, nor do they have the ability to self-reproduce. What separates the living from the inanimate cannot be defined biologically to this day.

Objects like stones and man-made creations maintain a stable structure on their own. A stone can continue to exist in a closed box, sealed off from the outside world, but life cannot sustain its existence in such a box because it is not an independent structure that can exist on its own.

Life is like a vortex created in the ocean. The vortex cannot maintain a stable structure on its own; rather, it is created and sustained by water that continuously flows inwards and outwards.The vortex is an existence within the flow, and its contour is ambiguous.

The same is true of life. It consumes external matter and energy as food and discharges it, sustaining its ordered structure as the energy dissipates. Life exists within the flow of matter and energy, and its contour, like a vortex, is ambiguous.
Life is a miraculous phenomenon that emerges in the flow of matter and energy, and its structure is the order of energy created by that flow.

In terms of material substance, the only things that exist in this space are ordinary soap, water, and air. The bubbles are soap bubbles.
Although life cannot be strictly defined with modern biology, everything that is structured upon cells, metabolizes, and self-reproduces, is conveniently labeled living things. In other words, all living things are composed of cells. All cells are surrounded by a cell membrane composed of a lipid bilayer with the hydrophilic part facing outwards and the hydrophobic part covered within the layers. Both the inside and outside of the enveloping membrane are liquid.
Soap bubbles are similarly enveloped by lipid bilayer membranes, and the membranes of the bubbles that make up this sculpture are structurally identical to cell membranes. However, contrary to cells, the bilayer of the bubble membrane floats in and encloses air, so the hydrophobic part faces outwards, while the hydrophilic part is covered within the layers. In other words, if we consider cells to be pouch-shaped membranes in liquid, bubbles are pouch-shaped membranes in air.

The space is filled with soap bubbles to create a unique environment in which an order of energy is born. By doing so, an immense white mass emerges from this sea of bubbles that floats steadily in mid-air.
This sculpture is created from substances composed in the same ways as cells, the structuring units of life-forms, and the order of energy created from this unique environment.