Taking the place of Tokyo Designers Week, the annual Design Touch exhibition is a free showcase of the some of the most innovative art installations in Japan, and 2017 marks the event’s 11th year at Tokyo Midtown — a 569,000-square-meter and $3 billion-dollar mixed-use development in Akasaka. Digital Vegetables, the exhibit/event that seems to be getting the most attention, is the brainchild of a big data, VR and IoT digital design company simply dubbed Party, and it’s essentially the coolest greenhouse anyone’s ever seen.
This functional plant shelter is not only lined with countless LEDs flickering bright and brilliant colors across Tokyo Midtown’s garden space, but it also involves touch capability and audio flourishes for a harmonious mash-up of nature and modern technology. Upon interaction, each of the greenhouse’s seven vegetable offerings triggers a different noise, rendered by mingling natural sounds like rustling leaves with melodic instruments from the orchestral palette. For example, cabbages trigger oboes, tomatoes prompt the violins, carrots trigger trumpets and so on thanks to the project’s Sound Designer Ray Kunimoto. During daylight hours, Digital Vegetables sheds its nightclub vibe and reverts back to being a mild-mannered and practical greenhouse, but after dark, it transforms into an immersive, interactive and simultaneously whimsical monument to civic beauty.
While this dazzling display of light emitting diodes in an unconventional environment doesn’t involve any actual digital displays or signage, it does feature a smart and synergistic combination of audio, immersion and touch capability, implemented in a way that could be considered a riff on dayparting. And perhaps we don’t talk or write enough about the auditory aspects of digital and LED installations. When appropriate for the project and its deployment (like Digital Vegetables), its use can be the keystone and/or x-factor that brings everything together into a cohesive whole.
Digital Vegetables will run through November 5, 2017, but just in case you can’t physically make it to Tokyo in the next 10 days, check out the video below to see the light show in action.