Aug 02 2017

Sketch Town: TeamLab in Hong Kong

by Zoe Tsang
Sketch Town (2014– ) by TEAMLAB is installed at Hong Kong’s IFC Mall. All photos by Zoe Tsang for ArtAsiaPacific.
Sketch Town (2014– ) by TEAMLAB is installed at Hong Kong’s IFC Mall. All photos by Zoe Tsang for ArtAsiaPacific.

Well-known Japanese “ultratechnologist” art collective teamLab has mounted their interactive digital installation Sketch Town (2014– ) at Hong Kong’s IFC Mall. Sketch Town is part of the group’s “Learn and Play! Future Park” project, which is an educational initiative aimed at children. Within this project, there are also other installations similar to Sketch Town, such as Sketch Aquarium (2013– ), Sketch Animals (2015– ) and Sketch People (2014– ). The purpose of this project is to teach children about how relationships form between people or things that share the same place. TeamLab believes that humans learn about the world through interactions with others, and that many achievements can result from collaboration and collective play. Each installation in the project carries its own theme and elements. Sketch Town includes automobiles, architectural structures and even spaceships, each of which has its own role in the simulation.

Interaction with Sketch Town begins with a drawing. A visitor first chooses one object from many to color in. The drawings are then scanned and rendered in three dimensions on the screen. These objects move around in the town, and the audience can also change their behaviors by touching the screen. The design of this installation in IFC Mall is shaped like a box, creating a half-open space with enough room for tables and chairs for visitors to use as they personalize their components. Coloring materials are all provided, and staff members offer assistance with scanning the drawings. Sketch Town is projected on a wall inside the box, where ambient illumination is low to ensure the images are crisp and colorful. To participate, a purchase at designated shops within the mall is required, and the cost to redeem two additional tickets will be donated to Save the Children Hong Kong.

Although Sketch Town may seem like an installation meant only for children, I believe it is a fun and playful environment for visitors of all ages. Not only does Sketch Town highlight interaction between digital objects, it is a channel through which teamLab draws out the creativity in the individuals who decide to stop and play for a moment.

TeamLab’s Sketch Town is installed at IFC Mall, Hong Kong, until August 28, 2017.

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