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Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life

teamLab, 2020



A giant cloud floats between the floor and the ceiling within the confines of the space, as though transcending the concept of mass. People can immerse their bodies in this cloud, blurring the boundaries between the artwork and the body.

Even when people push through the floating cloud and break it, it naturally repairs itself like a living thing. But, as with living things, when the cloud is destroyed beyond what it can repair, it cannot mend itself, and it collapses.

What is life? What separates the “living” from “inanimate” cannot be defined biologically to this day.

That you continue to be tomorrow who you are today is against the “law of increasing entropy,” wherein tangible things collapse. Entropy (a measurement of the lack of order in a system) is being maximized in this universe, but life goes against this direction.

Physicist and 1977 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Ilya Prigogine, observed that in the natural world, when energy is absorbed from an external source, internal entropy is generated, then released. Prigogine discovered that there exists a non-equilibrium state that is only realized when this entropy is released. Prigogine proposed this general idea of “dissipative structures,” and defined “self-organization” as the phenomenon of order being spontaneously realized in such dissipative structures. Through the dissipation of energy (or matter) and the removal of entropy outside of the system, internal entropy is reduced and order is realized.

Living creatures take in energy from the outside in the form of food, disposing of entropy in the form of excrement, thereby preserving entropy. The phenomenon of life can be thought of as a sort of dissipative structure: living by constantly lowering entropy, self-organizing, and maintaining order. Therefore, life can never be considered separate from its environment. Life cannot exist independently, it is part of a continuity with its external surroundings.

In this artwork, self-organization is tested. Universal gravitation and centrifugal force are opposed, and the clouds rotate while floating in the space between the floor and ceiling. And, just like life, they endeavor to repair themselves.