Arts and Culture
The emergence of new media art engaged with nature, both at the conceptual and material levels, is premised on two discrete but interdependent trajectories - the internationally growing interest in environmental art and the emphasis on aesthetics and visualization in environmental activism. Taking inspiration from the recent studies that new media art, and especially, ‘digital eco-art’ created in situ in natural settings can inspire environmental engagement, this paper provides critical analysis of Japanese teamLab and their recent artworks reconfiguring the interrelation between human and nature in Helsinki. Founded in 2001, as an interdisciplinary art collective, teamLab has gained appreciation in and beyond Asia with their interactive installations in natural and art institutional environments. While ecological knowledge has claimed to enhance ecological aesthetic appreciation, teamLab argues for liberation of non-physical expression creating ‘massless’ experiences. If we accept Berleant’s (2016) perception that ethical, scientific and aesthetic values constitute case-dependant normative complex and all these dimensions are important for environmental understanding and appreciation, how should we understand new media art where ecological realities have been transcended? Where does this kind of ‘philosophically-guided study of appreciative, that is, normative experience on its own terms,’ position imaginary and even ‘immaterial ecologies’ that do not comply with the natural formations but rather provide surreal take on the material and nature itself? Can these novel art forms enhance environmental awareness and if so, to what extent?