Lonely Planet Writer

Step into a dreamlike digital world inside a former water tank in Shanghai

The newly opened TANK Shanghai museum is home to a unique digital experience called teamLab: Universe of Water Particles in the Tank. The museum’s inaugural exhibition sees a massive former oil tank being transformed into an interactive, ever-changing installation that explores the relationship between people, art and technology.

teamLab, Exhibition view, teamLab: Universe of Water Particles in the Tank, 2019, TANK Shanghai, Shanghai in China. Image by © teamLab

Running until 24 August at Tank No. 5, the exhibition includes a number of different artworks, including Transcending Boundaries, which sees an awe-inspiring waterfall made up of light falling inside the tank. The flow of water changes as visitors move around and interact with the light, creating the feeling that they are part of it.

teamLab, Exhibition view, teamLab: Universe of Water Particles in the Tank, 2019, TANK Shanghai, Shanghai, China. Image by © teamLab

Another piece titled Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together, Transcending Boundaries – A Whole Year per Hour sees a year’s worth of flowers blooming and scattering over the space of one hour. If people stay still, more flowers are born. If people touch the flowers and walk around the space, the flowers scatter all at once. The artwork changes continuously, and is rendered in real time by a computer programme as opposed to being a pre-recorded animation or loop, and the interaction between the viewer and the installation causes continuous changes in the artwork.

TANK Shanghai
A view of TANK Shanghai. Image by TANK Shanghai

Black Waves: Lost, Immersed and Reborn is an installation that sees waves being projected across the surface of the tank, melding together to create a sense of 3D space.

teamLab, Black Waves: Lost, Immersed and Reborn, 2019, Digital Installation, Continuous Loop, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi. Image by © teamLab

Digital technology allows artistic expression to be released from the material world, gaining the ability to change form freely. The environments where viewers and artworks are placed together allow us to decide how to express those changes. This has the effect of blurring the boundary lines between the two sides. The viewers actually become part of the artworks themselves. At the very least, compared to traditional art viewing, people will become more aware of those around them,” teamLab told Lonely Planet Travel News.

teamLab, Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity II, 2019, Digital Work, 12 channels, Endless. Image by © teamLab

TANK Shanghai is a non-profit founded by art collector Qi ao Zhibing. The 60,000-square-metre site has room for exhibition spaces, plazas, gardens, bookstores and restaurants. Along with teamLab’s opening, the museum will present the solo exhibition of Argentinean artist Adrián Villar Rojas titled  Sometimes you wonder, in an interconnected universe, who is dreaming who? Which was conceived especially for the space.

More information on visiting teamLab: Universe of Water Particles in the Tank is available at the official website.