Approaching the Parc de La Villete in Paris was an adventure in itself. I had to wander through the Parc des Buttes Chaumont with its famous Temple de la Sibylle, and its history. As a former quarry that existed close to the site of Gibbet of Montfaucon where bodies of executed criminals were displayed, there was almost an eerie feeling.
But one delicious mint/lime water later- the diverse 19th arrondissement took on a new meaning. And there I found the Parc De La Villete. With bright yellow sculptures and a fountain to greet visitors it completely changed my day. I had some time before my river tour of Canal Saint-Martin and was struck by the Grande Halle right at the entrance of the park.
I saw it was hosting an installation from TeamLab, and since spontaneity suits me, I decided to take a peak. Behind the imposing exterior there was a welcoming world known as Au-Dela des Limites (French for ‘Beyond the Limits’).
I couldn’t help but smile. There were flowers, shooting stars, cloud whirls, and waterfalls, all in LED. The exhibit space was completely black and underwritten by beautiful classical music. It was kind of primitive the way you walked in without light- senses were heightened. I naturally had to slow down because I didn’t know where I was going, plus you didn’t really know what was in front of a you, a wall, a step, or a person.
Finally inside, the LED technology lit up the atmosphere. TeamLab is a Japanese art collective that coalesces technologists from all different specialties (engineering, mathematicians, architects, animators, and artists). Their goal with Au-Dela des Limites was to explore the infinite relationship between ourselves and nature. We impact the world, just as the world influences us, and this exhibit underscored the ambiguous boundary between us. The music, art, and light display was continuous, non-repetitive, and interactive. THAT was one of the coolest parts. When I touched a flowered it dispersed. When I stood under the waterfalls the streams diverged. It was amazing to see this plus all the other people in the room intersect with my movements.
One room I sat in for a good 20 minutes and started getting me into a very ß mode. It was a smaller more intimate room tucked in the back with a celestial theme. Stars and galaxies started to whirl slowly, then really really quickly. Actually if I didn’t stay grounded I could feel myself getting a little dizzy.
I was inspired by all the strangers collected together immersed in the same technological experience – sharing the awe and beauty. We have so many problems in the world, physical, emotional, political, spiritual and while technology is addressing some of them it is also worsening others.
But here technology was just used to amplify all that we already have, namely the gifts of sight, touch and sound. This is beta in itself. How often do we take for granted our ears that allow us to hear the humor in Mozart, or the eyes that show us our loved ones? I guess technology, for its precise capability, in the end can also make us, just more us? Malleable, emotional, and profound HUMANS.
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