I’ve been excited to discover Japan’s immersive / interactive theater scene and there’s been scant information on the English web. This week we tried two immersive experiences: TeamLab Borderless and The Lighting Art of Kabuki

TeamLab Borderless

Borderless was an extremely high production value immersive space spread over two floors and myriad exhibits. Most exhibits involved interesting animated art projected on walls with varying degrees of interactivity.

One highlight was a tea room where digital flowers grow out of your tea cup and the petals flow around the room.

There was a mirrored room with dozens of synchronized spotlights that danced around and reacted to the attendees.

And a hybrid virtual and analog town where the roads and rails would rearrange themselves as you moved around buildings.

Almost all of our friends raved about their visits to Borderless. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. I would have appreciated more narrative, more integration across installations, and even more interactivity. Overall though great to see experimentation on this scale!

The Lighting and Art of Kabuki

This was a small exhibit in Shibuya where a team of artists retold a classic Kabuki story through interactive digital means. The focused on a few key beats of the story and used a different interactive mechanism for each.

In one area, we carried lanterns (tea lights on top of Vive controllers) which illuminated a scene animated through shadows. The shadows reacted in real-time to us moving around the lantern, which was a pretty cool effect.

Another allowed audience members to puppeteer characters and make them dance around (using Kinect), while a third area used holographic pedestals to let folks play a virtual drum.

Overall, the experience felt more like a string of thematically linked tech demos than a narratively coherent interactive experience but it was still nice to check out.

We’ll be looking for more interactive experiences to check out so let us know if you find any!