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Steamy spectacle: Immersive sauna exhibition opens in Japan

TOKYO — It's the hottest new exhibition in town: An immersive digital art experience filled with futuristic light installations that doubles up as a sauna complex.

A staff member walks inside an interactive installation "Ephemeral Solidified Light" during a media preview of the "teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna" art and sauna experience organised by teamLab and Tiktok, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo on March 15, 2021.

A staff member walks inside an interactive installation "Ephemeral Solidified Light" during a media preview of the "teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna" art and sauna experience organised by teamLab and Tiktok, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo on March 15, 2021.

TOKYO — It's the hottest new exhibition in town: An immersive digital art experience filled with futuristic light installations that doubles up as a sauna complex.

The sweaty but spectacular art show in Tokyo, which opens Monday (March 22), allows visitors to "experience art in their finest mental state".

People must wear swimsuits but can put indoor clothing on top to enter the exhibition, which contains seven saunas of various temperatures lit up atmospherically in bold colours from magenta to deep green.

After a few minutes relaxing in the heat — followed by a cold shower to pique the senses — they can wander through different rooms to marvel at the artworks in a so-called "sauna trance".

Exhibits include fluttering butterfly illuminations, "solidified light crystals", and a large red sphere that radiates through the darkness.

Some of the viewing spaces also feature streams of cold water or cooling mist to create a physical, as well as esoteric, impression.

A staff member takes a shower at Step into the Light Circle, a cold bathing area with an interactive digital installation during a media preview of the teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna art and sauna experience organised by teamLab and Tiktok, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo on March 15, 2021. Photo: AFP

The exhibition, called Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna, is the latest offering from the Japanese art collective teamLab, which collaborated with video app TikTok on the project.

Internationally renowned for their innovative digital art, teamLab's work combines projections, sound and carefully designed spaces to create otherworldly experiences.

"By taking alternating hot and cold baths, visitors open their minds, experience an ever-expanding physical sensation, and become one with the art," the group said.

But an instruction sheet provided at a preview event acknowledged that for some visitors, it could all get too much — warning them not to "overdo it" in the sauna rooms and to make sure to drink water frequently.

Increasing the sweat factor, visitors are also required to wear a mask inside the exhibition, which will run until Aug 31. AFP

Staff members walk inside an interactive installation Ephemeral Solidified Light during a media preview of the teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna art and sauna experience organised by teamLab and Tiktok, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo on March 15, 2021. Photo: AFP

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