Outer space is the final frontier, and it turns out you don’t need a rocket ship to explore it.
Japanese studio teamLab is examining the beauty of outer space right here on Earth—more specifically in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. The exhibit, entitled Universe of Water Particles Under Satellite’s Gravity, consists of two parts: a giant model of the ALOS-2 satellite and a stunning projection-mapped waterfall rendered in ridiculous detail.
teamLab constructed the physical ALOS-2 model to rest in the museum, but they also created a meticulous representation of the satellite in digital space, even down to the gravitational mass the satellite possesses. Once they had that rendered, the team stuck the satellite in a simulation of absolute zero gravity and added about one waterfall’s worth of H20 into their simulation. Their finely tuned physics engine calculates the rest, beautifully simulating how the water would cascade toward the satellite, since it’s the only source of gravity around. Back in the Museum of Contemporary art, the image of the waterfall is projected over the physical satellite, creating the wonderful illusion of weightlessness.
The creators compare the effect to traditional Japanese painting, writing that, “In traditional Japanese painting, oceans, rivers and bodies of water are expressed as a curvilinear series of lines. These lines give the impression of life, as though water itself were a living creature.” All the same, if Katsushika Hokusai saw this thing, he’d probably wet himself on the spot.
Universe of Water is the most recent in a teamLab series exploring aquatic aesthetic. You can see the others, including Vortex of Water Particles and The Waterfall of Saga Castle on the teamLab website.