TeamLab’s Tea Time in the Soy Sauce Storehouse brings a whole new meaning to the term “tea light”.

TeamLab has been making quite a stir in Japan’s art scene since their art collective formed in 2001. Their interactive pop-up installations have wowed thousands with how they seamlessly blend technology and real life, using filigrees of filtered light to create gardens, kaleidoscopic corridors, ocean scenes, and dazzling halls of mirrors.

As of April 15, TeamLab’s latest venture, Tea Time in the Soy Sauce Storehouse, will be open to the public (with social-distancing caveats). The installation is set in the Fukuoka Soy Sauce Gallery, a historic former soy sauce warehouse in Okayama City of Okayama Prefecture. Within its shadowy spaces TeamLab has set a host of lamps afloat in the inky blackness, creating an eerie and beautiful backdrop that you yourself can influence with your actions.

▼ A guest gently rests her hand on one of the lamps in the storehouse.

The red lamps bobbing in the dark water conjure up a stately, mysterious mood—and also harken back to the dark soy sauce originally stored within the walls of the storehouse, back when it was built in the Meiji period. However, when touched or when the visitor begins their personal tea time, the lamps will glow, dim, and rhythmically pulse with light in response.

The teacups themselves give off fluorescent light in four colors when filled, setting off chain reactions that will spread through the lamps nearby and affect the scenery for everyone in the room. Drinking the tea until the cup is empty will rob it of the power to influence the lamps around it, so make sure to enjoy its luminous properties while your cup is full.

▼ Your teacup itself is a beacon.

These reactions will diffuse throughout the room and attempt to stabilize, much like a cloud of fireflies or a cluster of cells within the body. TeamLab created this setup to cause visitors to create their own patterns, and even contrast the flow of lights to the act of entropy—the universe’s gradual decline into disorder—to see how even something as unpredictable as lights impacted by various guests can knit together and create their own strange sense of harmony. TeamLab also cites a passage from Okakura Tenshin, the author of the historic treatise The Book of Tea, as a core concept: “I am doing quite well with the universe and am grateful for what the universe has given me”.

▼ Food for thought…or perhaps drink for thought.

The exhibition costs 1,000 yen (US$9.25) as an admission fee, which also covers the cost of the single cup of tea received by each guest. Sip away and enjoy a moment of cosmic closeness with strangers drinking at least six feet away from you!

Museum information
Tea Time in the Soy Sauce Storehouse
Venue: Fukuoka Soy Sauce Gallery / 福岡醤油ギャラリー
Address: Okayama-ken, Okayama-shi, Kita-ku, Yumi-no-cho 17-35
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.)
Closed Wednesdays

Source, images: PR Times
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