I was underdressed. I only had some khaki pants, a t-shirt, and some running shoes. My other mistake was coming alone. Who was going to take my picture and there would be many of them.
These thoughts came to mind as I entered the TeamLab exhibition at the OCT Bay Centre in Shenzhen. Team Lab uses a combination of light and dark to create pieces of art which looks nice, but this show is more about making money than the experience.
At the door, the cost is 200 RMB during the week and 260 RMB on the weekend. There are discounts online if you know Chinese and as low as 130 RMB. No cash at the door only Alipay or UnionPay. The crowd was young and were in their best clothing. Many had bulky DSLR’s and expensive Leica Cameras, and almost everyone had an iPhone I had a cheap unknown Chinese branded phone. It was uncomfortable.
The first room was *The Forest of Lamps* a collection of lights surrounded by plastic coverings which dim in different colours and are placed at various levels. The walls are mirrors giving the allusion of never-ending light but making it hard to move around. It looks beautiful, but there are too many people squished into a small area. If the organizers tried to control the flow of people and only allowed a lesser amount with a short amount of time, then it would be more comfortable.
The rest of the exhibition felt bland but was more focused on interacting with the light and patterns. I had no children, and maybe it explains my feelings. There were drawings which could be scanned and made part of the moving collection of light art on the walls.
There were shows of light which told a story, but the lights looked dimmed and not as bright. It felt like the projectors needed to be cleaned as it seemed blunted. The black background was worn and was turning to a lighter shade of grey.
The building is lovely, but a majority of the installation took place in temporary wooden structures around the exhibition hall. The floors were uneven at times. The corridors connecting the different rooms were dark, narrow and not well signed. There was always this feeling of “Is this the right way?” People were trying to guide you along, but mostly they were looking on their cellphones or murmuring in Chinese which was barely recognizable.
The final exhibition piece *Crystal Universe* was nice. There was enough room and enough mirrors to make it look larger than it was. Yes, lots of people were taking pictures. Moving through the lights took some time with the posing and preening in front of the lights, but the effect was lovely. If anything it would have been better if it were possible to make the first and last installations larger to accommodate the space but allow the same amount of people. It would have set the pieces off more and made it a lot more enjoyable.
The show runs until tomorrow.