Back in college, I walked into a friend’s room – a place we all seemed to gather when the requisite amount of desire and boredom hit – to get high. Through the sticky-smelling smoke snaking from the end of a lit joint, I saw an acquaintance curled up on the end of the couch in the small room, his tall frame folded awkwardly together, stuck in a bad trip.
“He took some ‘schrooms earlier,” someone said, as he twitched and grimaced.
I’d never been tempted to try magic mushrooms, largely because I have enough self-awareness to stay away from anything that will suddenly heighten everything that I’ve been suppressing and bring it to hallucinatory life. “You just have to concentrate on positive things,” someone once said, in response to how best to avoid being reduced to a trembling pile on a friend’s couch, as if that was not only possible but that it could be done with ease, while under the influence of a semi-controlled substance.
“Have you met me?” I wanted to ask.
The purchase of narcotics that could lead to terrifying experiences is further compounded by the fact that, with the exception of my monthly weightlifting membership, I’d like some guarantee of a pleasant experience in exchange for my hard-earned money. A 50/50 shot at a good time seems like a coin toss with my hidden demons that I’m bound to lose.
Luckily, for Tokyo residents and visitors adverse to psychedelics, there’s TeamLab Borderless. An interactive, digital art museum, it’s a giant space where thousands of lights, sensors, projectors, mirrors and algorithms come together to warp your perception of both time and space. Elephants made of flowers lumber past in the hallways, water lilies lazily swirl past from the ceiling, images of water can be diverted. I laid on a giant hammock-like net with about 20 other people and watched the room spin, rise, and fall. Dark hallways partially hide curtained doorways that lead to rooms filled with lanterns, lights, and mirrors. It feels like an Alice in Wonderland-esque scavenger hunt on a wildly mind-altering substance that gave me the kind of vibrant imagination I could only wish I had.
Buzzed from the sensory overload, we wandered around, exploring the space for what ended up being five hours. We bounced giant balloons, jumped on a trampoline painted with projections of planets, and got caught in a downpour of LED lights.
We emerged to a sterile, stable Tokyo sky, starving, but still humming from TeamLab.
Mori Building Digital Art Museum
Odaiba Palette Town 2F
1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo