Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo: The Constant Gardeners art installation

Category: Installations & Exhibitions; Entrant: Jason Bruges Studio

The Constant Gardeners was created in response to an open call from the Arts Council Tokyo in 2018 for a monumental, temporary public artwork that would coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Against the ­backdrop of this exciting sporting event, Arts Council Tokyo required an exhilarating artwork that would engage and inspire large audiences.

In response to the brief, Jason Bruges Studio envisaged an artwork that would resonate with Tokyo’s identity as a high-tech city that’s also steeped in tradition, and provide an antidote to the high-octane buzz of the Games. Spanning art, technology and sports, The Constant Gardeners was a vast, kinetic art installation combining ancient Japanese tradition with cutting-edge computing and ­industrial robotics.

Taking inspiration from a traditional Japanese zen garden, four industrial robot arms were poised around an expansive gravel canvas before they awakened and started to rake the surface. In a series of ­daily performances, these ‘gardeners’ worked together to create unique, evolving illustrations representing the movements of athletes.

Generated by a series of bespoke algorithms, which analysed video footage of Olympic and Paralympic events, some illustrations depicted a movement unfolding over time, while others shone a light on one spectacular sporting moment.

A meditation on tradition, craftsmanship and the evolving roles of technology, The Constant ­Gardeners offered visitors a peaceful space for quiet introspection. The artwork explored a new narrative around ­robotics, showing this technology to be a force capable of artistic creativity and experimental action.

The Constant Gardeners launched in Ueno Park, Tokyo, on July 28, 2021, and ran until September 5, 2021, to ­coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. During this ­period, almost 50,000 people visited the installation.

Design Studio: Jason Bruges Studio
Festival: Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13
Special Support: British Council Japan, British Council UK
Production Partner: Brilliant Stages, Tait Towers Japan, Murayama
Robot Manufacturer: ABB Robotics
Robot Supplier: Global Robots
Robot Integrator: Phoenix Control Systems