FUTURE WORLD: Toshiyuki Inoko’s Speech

FUTURE WORLD: Where Art meets Science, speech by Mr. Toshiyuki Inoko (co-founder of teamLab) at the ArtScience Museum, March 10th 2016.

 Mr. Toshiyuki Inoko and Ms Honor Harger, the Executive Director of ArtScience Museum at the centre of the stage.  

Thank you for coming today! My name is Inoko, and I am a co-founder of teamLab. Singapore is a special place for teamLab. Our debut in the world of art was late in 2011, and the debut did not happened in Japan, but at the Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei. In 2013, when we were still unknown artists, Singapore Biennale gambled on our future, and gave us the opportunity to exhibit a piece called ‘Peace can be Realized even without Order’. It is thanks to the Singapore Biennale that we have become active in the current international art world.

Last year, we were finally able to open a large-scale exhibition in Tokyo that was visited by around 470,000 visitors. Then, last month, we opened a large exhibition hosted by New York’s Pace Gallery that spans 2,000 square meters in Silicon Valley.

We launched teamLab in 2001. I was a young boy who was fond of science, and it was that year, I graduated from the university with a background in physics and mathematics.

Science is about understanding and predicting phenomena by identifying effective rules for understanding the natural world. For instance, I will throw a super bouncy right now. (Mr. Inoko did threw a ball which bounced during the press preview) I think everyone was able to see that. In the past, we did not understand the phenomena that occurred when an object bumped into something. Now, however, science has allowed us to understand and predict such phenomena. Consequently, our understanding of the world has grown deeper than just seeing with the naked eyes. I believe that many of the things modern humans think they see with the naked eyes are visible as the result of science. It may be that the super ball that you all just saw was not seen by your own physical eye – it is possible that you were able to see it thanks to our scientific heritage.

For me, I developed an interest in science from wanting to understand the world around me.

And I think my interest in art also comes from a similar aspect. Many artists in the past have suggested new ways of seeing the world, and new approaches in perceiving the world.

For example – rain. Rain… everyone can see rain, right? We can see rain and therefore we can draw it. Even a six-year old child can draw rain. You draw rain using lines, right?

Around the 18th century in Japan, Ukiyo-e artists drew rain with lines. Prior to that, rain itself had rarely been depicted even in Western art. For example, there is a famous painting called Paris Street, Rainy Day painted by Gustave Caillebotte in 1877. It is a painting of a wet cobblestone street with people holding up their umbrellas, but the rain is not depicted. Although the rain was perceived as rain, it was not seen as a not very well understood phenomenon, and we can say that rain was not perceived as it is now.

However, when artists started to draw rain using lines, other people learned that technique, and the complex phenomenon of rain started to be perceived as something actually quite simple. In other words, the rain became visible. That is why nowadays even small children can draw rain.

Complex phenomenal which often requires logic can hence be perceived as something simple. The difference between complexity and simplicity can be bridged by art.

Art brings us so many approaches. The difference between art and science is that there are no absolute right answers to an artists’ questions. Answers have been selected by people sensing beauty in the answer, being moved in some way, or feeling shocked. Then as a result of the selected answers, people’s understanding of the world has expanded, even to change the value of the society and contributed to the world.

Back in 2001, I wanted to be part of a group that would go on to shape a new society with the implementation of digital technology and networks, and that is when I wanted to make art by digital technology. Fond of science as I was, I decided to create art using a scientific approach. The reason for my decision was that I was more interested in the question of, ‘What the world means to people?’ than ‘What is the world?’. I also wanted to change the way humanity perceived the world and change our values through art.

Then I created a platform for a collaborative creations – which is ‘teamLab’- and produce art together as a group, as I felt that it was precisely group creation and co-creation that would be crucial to this new era.

For more than 10 years after launching teamLab, our work has never recognized as art in Japan. We had stayed active believing only in our future. We appreciate and respect the people of Singapore who strongly believed in and bet on its future.

It is beyond awesome that we are given the opportunity to have the world’s first large-scale permanent exhibition at ArtScience Museum in Singapore, the place embodying art and science – the very concepts of teamLab.

It is our hope to expand humanity values and upgrade our brains through this Future World in such a way that the whole world in the future will refer this exhibition and say, ‘This is where the story began.’

Thank you sincerely for providing us with this forum and thank you for your constant support. We look forward to your continued support moving forward.

Source: teamLab and ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands Singapore