Part of the UK’s contribution to the Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13 was “The Constant Gardeners”, a large-scale outdoor art installation capturing Japanese culture and art in a Japanese Zen Garden in homage to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The project was produced in conjunction with the British Council, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Arts Council Tokyo and was art directed by Jason Bruges Studio.
Based at Ueno Park in Tokyo, the installation inside a 500m2 pavilion and consisted of a 74m2 gravel pit with over 14 tons of crushed black basalt and Cobot robotic arms at each corner, mounted on linear rails and supplied by ABB Robotics. AI software analysed historic Olympic and Paralympic footage, isolating the athletes’ movement data and creating unique, computer-generated illustrations based on the information. The four robotic arms then inscribed the illustrations in the gravel via aluminium, rake-like appendages. Each piece of art created by the performative art installation was a unique, never-to-be-seen-again creation, since the arms were designed to ‘erase’ their work after each performance.
TAIT’s Wakefield, UK location, Brilliant Stages, created the interlocking decking system for the Zen Garden installation. The brief was to create a portable staging structure with an unlimited lifespan, designed to move from place to place as required for future installations. The caveat being that it needed to appear to be a permanent installation.
Lottie Wellesley, Lead Studio Designer, talked about the challenges of the brief, “To create something that had the permanence that the team at Jason Bruges Studio wanted, was strong enough to support the installation, but that was also logistically flexible and could be easily taken apart and moved from place to place created a few design obstacles, but we got around them.”
The Wakefield team put together a 30x16m interlocking decking system that was able to handle the rigors of outdoor use and the weight of the installation but could also be easily torn down and rebuilt in a new setting quickly and efficiently.
Business Development Manager, James Chapman, was a key part of the collaboration, “The team at Jason Bruges Studio put a lot of faith in us to create something spectacular that realised their artistic vision. We pride ourselves on delivering in these kinds of situations and the result was a truly ground-breaking piece of AI-driven performance art.”
The unique travel landscape of 2021 ruled out the possibility of the installation being built and tested in Japan, so the team at Brilliant Stages created the staging system in the UK in collaboration with the project partners before shipping to Japan in time for the event.
One of 13 art installations at Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13 in support of the Olympics, The Constant Gardeners was exhibited between 28 July and 5 September, 2021.