Boston Magazine

Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute Displays a Touch-Sensitive Digital Artwork

Featured on Boston Magazine, Oct 21, 2015

There’s a clear, unspoken rule enforced in most museum and gallery settings: Don’t touch the art.

But currently, that’s not the case inside the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where a new exhibition is very much dependent on visitors’ touch.

Titled “teamLab at Radcliffe: What a Loving and Beautiful World,” the interactive exhibition features projections of Chinese and Japanese characters that represent elements from the natural world and cascade down the walls of the gallery. When activated by touch, the characters trigger images of their meanings, as well as sounds, to emerge.

As they’re triggered around the space by multiple people, the images can also interact with each other, constantly creating new animated environments that cannot be repeated.

TeamLab, the group from Japan that created the digital artwork, is an interdisciplinary consortium that consists of artists, programmers, engineers, animators, mathematicians, architects, and designers. Their multimedia installations have appeared around the world, rendering dreamlike, responsive environments such as a floating flower garden and a cosmos-like space filled with thousands of LEDs that give visitors the illusion of standing among stars.

For the exhibition at Radcliffe, teamLab collaborated with professional calligrapher Sisyu and musician Hideaki Takahashi. It’s the inaugural show at the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery, which was recently redesigned and renamed following a gift from Harvard alum Maryellie Kulukundis Johnson and her husband Rupert H. Johnson Jr.

“teamLab at Radcliffe: What a Loving and Beautiful World” is free and open to the public Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m., through November 14 at the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery of Byerly Hall, 8 Garden St., Radcliffe Yard, Cambridge. For more info,

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