Twenty years ago you could walk through Tokyo and stumble across small plots of farmland. And a small stand would sell fresh vegetables that had just been harvested. Those urban farms have virtually disappeared. But now, in one of the most unlikely spots, a farm encapsulated by a digital, technicolor greenhouse, has sprouted up, and is welcoming visitors in to smell, touch and learn about agriculture.
Digital Vegetables, or Digi Vege, as the project is being called in Japan, is the work of PARTY and is located in Tokyo Midtown’s garden space. It’s part of the venue’s 2017 Design Touch event and, true to its name, encourages visitors to step into the digitally equipped, futuristic greenhouse and touch the 7 different kinds of vegetables growing inside.
Touching them triggers a series of lights and sounds, all controlled by a meticulously programmed system and designed to spark ideas about the shapes and colors that are growing beneath the soil. “Start off by touching the 7 types of lives now growing strong in the soil,” says Naoki Ito, who was in charge of overall direction. “Then, bathe in the design of vegetables, enhanced by videos and sounds.”
Sound designer Ray Kunimoto recorded sounds of rubbing seeds, touching leaves and eating fruits. “Tomatoes are violin, carrots are trumpet, cabbages are oboe, mini radishes are flute, sweet potatoes are piano, eggplants are harp, pumpkins are clarinet,” says Kunimoto, who mixed actuals sounds from vegetables with orchestra instruments.
Digital Vegetables is on display in Tokyo Midtown through November 5th, 2017. It’s free but we recommend going between the hours of 5:00 – 9:00pm to see it lit up at night.