The Constant Gardeners: Connecting Art, Technology and Sports at the 2020 Tokyo Games

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For this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the host city commissioned and promoted cultural offerings alongside the sporting events. “Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13,” an open competition to select public art installations for the city was led by the Arts Council Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government sponsored one of those: an open competition. Jason Bruges Studio (London), was selected from a field of more than 2400 entrants to design and display “The Constant Gardeners,” one of the Festival’s 13 commissioned works.

In Ueno Park, in the center of Tokyo’s cultural district, an art installation features four robotic arms, intriguing residents and visitors alike. Designed by Jason Bruges Studio, “The Constant Gardeners” connects three different themes: art, technology and sports.

The installation’s website sums up the work best:

“Drawing inspiration from the Japanese Zen Garden, a team of four giant robot arms meditatively rake an expansive gravel canvas. In a series of daily performances, these ‘gardeners’ work together to create unique, evolving illustrations representing the movements of athletes. Generated by a series of algorithms that analyze video footage of past Olympic and Paralympic events, some illustrations depict an event unfolding over time while others shine a light on one spectacular movement or sporting moment.”

In a country renowned for its enduring artistic traditions and its simultaneous embrace of modern life and cutting-edge technologies, “The Constant Gardeners” provides a unique interpretation of this cultural juxtaposition.

“By developing new paradigms in robotics and performative arts, we hope to show how innovative technologies can be used in storytelling,” said Jason Bruges, Creative Director and Founder of Jason Bruges Studio. “It offers audiences in Tokyo an accessible, meaningful experience that celebrates the Tokyo 2020 Games and the incredible skill and achievements of its athletes.”

To do this, The Constant Gardeners “creates a new visual language to communicate and celebrate the motion of the professional athletes and their feats of physical prowess,” states a recent press release from Jason Bruges Studio. “The installation produces dynamic, representative patterns, which ‘the gardeners’ precisely rake into a large-scale gravel canvas.”

For those in Tokyo, you can see “The Constant Gardeners” now through September 5 at Ueno Park’s Fountain Square. And for those visiting virtually, check out the Jason Bruges Studio website as well as the SEGD slideshow and videos.