*[Floating, Resonating Spheres. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2016, from




We Believe that Digital Technology can Expand Art.

Digital art can create new relationships between people.

Digital Technology Releases Expression from Substance and Creates an Existence with the Possibility for Transformation

Digital technology enables freedom for change and complex detail. Before people started accepting the concept of digital technology, information had to be embodied in some physical form. The same applies to artwork. Creative expression has existed through static media for many years, often mediated by the use of physical objects such as canvas and paint, giving rise to the familiar adage of a painting coming to life. The advent of digital technology allows human expression to become free from these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely.

Expansion and Space Adaptability

No longer tied down to physical specificity, digital technology has made it possible to expand artworks, as seen in the use of projection mapping. Digital technology has also allowed us to develop space adaptability, which provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space where the artwork will be installed. Because we are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces, viewers are able to experience artwork more directly.

Digital Technology has allowed us to Express Change in Itself

The ability of digital technology to enable change allows us to express much more than we were able to prior to the digital age. Artworks can now express change much more freely and precisely. Through these works, artists can also now show how one person is able to instigate perpetual change, and how the viewers—as well as the installation in which they find themselves—can also instigate change. By creating an interactive relationship between the viewer and the artwork, viewers become an intrinsic part of the artworks.

Changing the Relationship between Artworks and Groups in Order to Influence the Relationships among Viewers

With interactive artworks, the viewer’s actions and behavior can influence the state of the artwork at any particular moment. The line between the artwork and the viewer becomes ambiguous and the viewer becomes a part of the artwork itself. The artwork becomes alive by incorporating the viewers. Paintings prior to the digital era stood independently of the viewers, with a clearly defined boundary between the viewers and the objects being viewed. Painting remains the same whether someone has seen it five minutes before, or if someone experiences it simultaneously next to another viewer. How does each viewer feel after seeing a painting? What do they think? These are important questions. An artwork comes to life based on its relationship with an individual. However, the incorporation of the viewer causes the viewer and the artwork to become more like a single entity, changing the relationship between the artwork and an individual into the relationship between the artwork and a group of people. Then the important questions become: Was there another viewer there five minutes ago? How is the person next to you behaving? At the very least, even when you are looking at the painting, you will start to wonder about the person standing next to you. Change in the relationship between artworks and groups, has the potential to influence the relationships among the viewers of the artwork.

Ultra Subjective Space

Pre-Modern Knowledge and Ancient Japanese Spatial Recognition

The World as a Japanese Painting

We explore what contemporary society has discarded as a result of a lack of compatibility. In particular, teamLab explores a sense of spatial awareness interpreted in pre-modern Japanese art.

Until the late 19th century, people in Japan depicted the world differently than today. This ancient Japanese sense of spatial recognition has been lost in modern times. With our work, we explore whether the world itself has changed spatially, or if people have lost sight of how they once saw things.

Traditional Japanese painting is generally described as “flat” or ideological. We believe that our ancestors saw the world exactly as depicted in ancient Japanese paintings, to the same extent that contemporary Japanese are aware of space when they see modern perspective-based paintings or photos.

In other words, we believe that our forebears developed a logical structure of spatial recognition that differs from the Western Renaissance perspective. Since influences from neighboring Asian countries greatly shaped pre-modern Japan, it might be said that this specific spatial awareness applied to ancient Asia as a whole.

Ancient Japan’s Spatial Awareness as Ultra Subjective Space

We are attempting to use a scientific approach to discover the logical structure of Ultra Subjective Space by employing new, digital methodology. We use a computer to build a world of 3-D objects in a 3-D space. Then, we explore the logical structure of that space in a way that makes the 3-D space appear flat, as in traditional Japanese art. We call that logical structure Ultra Subjective Space.

We are not animating by drawing a picture on a plane. We are creating 3-D objects in a 3-D space and then flattening them using the logical constructs of Ultra Subjective Space. This logical structure enables the production of creative works that are interactive and continuously changing. The creative process allows for the discovery of special features and phenomena that exist in Ultra Subjective Space. Through this exploration of space, we can generate new viewing experiences and raise questions about how modern people understand the world. [figs. 1, 2].

[Figure 1]
View of 3-D objects in a 3-D space, flattened using perspective (from Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12: Prosperity and Disaster)
[Figure 2]
View of 3-D objects in a 3-D space, flattened using the logic of Ultra Subjective Space (from Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12: Prosperity and Disaster)

Mov. 1:Finished painting (from “Flower and Corpse Animation Diorama”)

How the Human Eye Sees

In simplified terms, the Western perspective originated from hand drawn paintings [fig. 3], which depict a linear system where objects recede in space [fig. 4]. The viewer sees the world, as depicted in paintings and photographs, through a hand drawn perspective.

Let’s assume that people in pre-modern Japan saw the world as a Japanese painting [fig. 5], where figures and objects exist on a single plane of depth [fig. 6]. It may seem impossible to perceive dimensionality from this alternative vantage point; however, it can also be argued that it is unnatural to only see the world from a single point perspective.

What the human eye sees in a given moment is much more narrow and shallow than people realize. We do not see the wide perspective often depicted in paintings or photographs. The natural movement of our eyes and the way we switch focus determines a timed axis in human perception. The range of narrow and shallow focus is synthesized in the brain, and we believe that people merely feel that they are seeing the perspective in a photo or picture.

We believe, in other words, that people use their eyes as an extremely weak camera. They continuously take infinite numbers of photos of their surroundings, synthesizing the huge volume of obtained images in the brain using a fixed logical structure, thereby creating an understanding of those images spatially. If you think that the synthesis in the brain uses a logical structure that differs from perspective, it would not be strange if the world were seen as shown in figure 6.

[Figure 3]
Mona Lisa
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Michel Urtado / distributed by AMF-DNPartcom
[ Figure 4 ]
[ Figure 5 ]
Honensho picture scroll
[ Figure 6 ]

Become Part of a Picture or Photo

If you pretend that you are a character in a perspective based picture or photo [fig. 7, Red human figure], the visible landscape changes. If the portrait is front facing, you will see the world as seen by an external viewer [fig. 7, pink part].

Assuming that the pre-modern Japanese population viewed the world as shown in figure 8, a viewer pretending to be a character [fig. 9, Red human figure] in a traditional Japanese painting will see the pink part of figure 9. The character in the painting, in other words, sees almost the same landscape that an external viewer of the painting sees [fig. 9]. So, viewers can continue to view the landscape in the picture even if they step into the shoes of a character depicted in the painting. While viewing a painting, a viewer can pretend to enter and move around freely within the space of the painting. The viewer does not hold a dominant perspective over the subject matter, and instead is merged into the comprehensive experience.

[ Figure 7 ], [ Figure 8 ], [ Figure 9 ]

Viewer centricity

Suppose that you make one large photograph by combining a number of photographs depicting objects [fig. 10]. The result will differ completely from a photograph taken at a distance of the series of objects as a whole [fig. 11]. In the Western perspective, even if we create one big plane by combining several planes in the vicinity of the point of view, where a small area is reflected in the projection plane subject to space [fig. 10], it is not possible to make a large plane that reflects the entire space in the distant perspective, where the entire space is reflected on the plane [fig. 11].

In the case of Ultra Subjective Space, recognizing a plane that combines multiple detailed planes [fig. 12] is logically the same as recognizing a plane of the entire space [fig. 13]. The plane consisting of combined parts of spac—each recognized in detail—is equivalent to the plane where the entire space is recognized.

This means that viewer centricity is possible. When you view a painting from a position where it can be seen in its entirety, you are inside the entire space represented in the painting. Step closer to the painting so that you can see only one part of it, and you enter only that part of the painting in the represented space [fig. 12]. You can see the picture freely from anywhere. There is no limit to the point of view, and the point of view can move freely [fig. 13].

Traditional Japanese picture scroll and paper screen paintings are created on this basis. Scroll paintings are placed on a table and their separate scenes are viewed by unrolling the scroll with the left hand. You look, in other words, at the individual parts of a larger whole. Paper screen paintings are also painted on the understanding that the individual screens will be moved.

[Figure 10]
A plane that is pieced together from planes that each recognizes a part of the space in perspective
[Figure 11]
A plane that recognizes the entire space in perspective
[Figure 12]
A plane that is pieced together from finely detailed planes that each recognize a part of the space in Ultra Subjective Space
[Figure 13]
A plane that recognizes the entire space in Ultra Subjective Space

Split, Fold, or Join

Ultra Subjective Space allows us to freely “split” the plane into parts. If you view only part of a painting, you enter the space represented by only that part. You can also divide by “folding” the plane. With perspective-based photos or paintings, it is not possible to fold, split, or join the image, as is common practice with traditional Japanese art.

Byobu screens are by definition a folded canvas. Fusuma sliding doors are a split canvas. If ancient people saw the world in Ultra Subjective Space, the world they saw would remain almost unchanged regardless of the canvas it was presented on. They easily and completely entered the images depicted in the art of their time and saw it as they saw the world. They readily felt themselves to be an integral part of their world, whether seeing it in real time or in art.

No Boundary between Viewer and World in Ultra Subjective Space

When you are looking at the world as depicted in the Western perspective, the world appears to be different and you cannot fully become a person in that world.Understanding this, we can conclude that it is possible to gain a new way of seeing the world that stems from the connection between the appearance of the world and our behavior within that world.

The behavior of our Japanese forebears toward nature was not a target of observation. Their belief that they were a part of nature was not the result of a way of thinking, but simply that they fully entered the world which they were observing, and easily understood how they were a part of that world.

If you have seen the world through the Western perspective, you can understand how there is a clear boundary between you and the world you are observing. It is not possible to exist in that world. In other words, the world is one to be observed, and this perhaps is why science evolved in the West.

It is common to hear people of today chant, “We are a part of the Earth.” However, many people behave as if there is a clear boundary between themselves and the world, and they act as if the world is different from the one that they are in. Perhaps this is a result of the abundance of photos and live videos currently presented in modern society, which force us to remove ourselves from the world that we are observing.

Ultra Subjective Space and Digital

Ultra Subjective Space: The New Spatial Awareness through Digital Technology.

Ultra Subjective Space adopts the concepts and representations of spatial awareness found in the art of pre-modern Japan and interprets them using digital technology. It provides immense possibilities for digital art by allowing viewers to interact directly with artwork.
As a viewer walks freely through an art space, the artworks transform based on the viewer’s behavior and movement. Viewers are able to experience art in a new way—through movement, interaction, and collaboration. Ultra Subjective Space allows pre-modern knowledge to flourish in a new and previously unimagined way.

“Fold, Divide or Joint” and “Space Adaptability”

An art space that has been flattened through Ultra Subjective Space can be folded and divided without making the image or space feel uncomfortable. The new space is extremely adaptable and compatible with digital techniques. Splitting, folding, or joining these surfaces and reconstructing them into a physical space that viewers can enter enables teamLab to continuously create new forms of such spaces.

“Gigantic Space” and “Shifting of Viewpoint”

Art in the tradition of the Western perspective uses a fixed focal point, or single-point perspective. Ultra Subjective Space, however, does not adhere to fixed vanishing points, making it possible for viewers to shift their position and point of view. It allows for the creation of vast spaces in which viewers can move freely and experience multiple perspectives. Viewers can take part in an artwork from their own individual positions, without priority over another, appreciating the influence of participation on the work.

All Viewers can Experience the Artwork Interactively from their Own Centric Positions

The ‘flat’ space of Ultra Subjective Space is one in which there exists no fixed viewpoint or barrier between the viewer and the projection surface. This Ultra Subjective Space , facilitates the interaction between the viewer and artwork, and allows the viewer to instigate changes in the work. Not just one, but all the viewers can interact with the artwork from their own individual positions, without any priority over anybody else, appreciating the influences they and others around them exert on the work.

Transcending Bounderies

In the brain there are essentially no boundaries between thoughts and concepts. Thoughts and concepts exist in the presence and under the influence of each other. When these thoughts and concepts are mediated as a substance in the real world, that substance gives birth to a boundary.

Digital releases the artwork from physical substance and the boundary between artworks becomes ambiguous. The artwork, whilst being influenced by other artworks, continues to change. The artwork remains independent, but the boundaries between artworks dissolves.

**[Concepts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2016, from




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