SOTOROJI #1, 2021

Tea practitioners have long admired the subtle and profound world depicted in ink paintings, expressing this worldview in tea rooms and tea gatherings. Tea rooms, including their gardens, are designed to gradually lead visitors into this mysterious world. The space from the entrance of the garden, called the roji gate, to the middle gate separating the secular and mystical worlds is known as a sotoroji, meaning a outer garden in English. Guests participating in a tea gathering cleanse themselves of worldly dust in this sotoroji, immersing themselves in the profound world and indulging in a higher level of play.
The art collective "The TEA-ROOM" expresses the material and spiritual aspects of the tea ceremony world from a contemporary perspective and with contemporary methods. This work is one of the SOTOROJI series that creates a contemporary sotoroji using QR codes, which have been generalized as a means to efficiently connect the physical and informational worlds.
In today's world, where the mechanization of the body has advanced and the externalization of memory has become commonplace, the environment in which information is generated has increasingly shaped our selves. However, the internet, the main source of this information, has become completely driven by capitalism and justifies hacking human desires and making them addictive.
QR (Quick Response) codes exist to efficiently guide users from physical spaces to the internet, playing a part in this process. In the era of smartphone embodiment and widespread QR codes, non-contact recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic have led humans to acquire a new affordance of "QR code and camera activation." Unfortunately, when presented with a large number of QR codes, people cannot resist activating their cameras.
In this work, the new affordance of the times is used in reverse to create a contemporary sotoroji as a spatial device that allows humans to break away from wandering the physical world as slaves to the internet. Through this work, installed at the very beginning of the exhibition, viewers randomly encounter activities marginalized by capitalism each time they access a QR code. After viewing, they receive a sticker printed with part of the artwork and hold a small SOTOROJI in their hands. The movement has now spread to more than 20 cities around the world and can be found in the corners of urban spaces. This work is also a movement to SOTOROJI-ize society.
At first glance, it may seem like there are just a massive amount of QR codes. However, subtle variations in size among the more than 100,000 QR codes reveal an actual image of the sotoroji when viewed from several meters away.
アート集団「The TEA-ROOM」は、茶の湯の世界を構成する事物や精神性を現代の視点と手法で表現している。本作は、効率的に物理と情報を結ぶものとして一般化したQRコードを使い現代の外露地を作り出すSOTOROJIシリーズの一つ。
QR (Quick Response) コードは、物理空間からインターネットへ効率的にいざない、その一翼を担おうものとして存在している。スマホが身体化しQRコードが一般化した時代に、コロナ禍における非接触推奨もあいまり、”QRコードとカメラ起動”という新たなアフォーダンスを人間は獲得した。大量のQRコードを目の前に提示された時、残念ながら人はカメラの起動をあがらうことは出来ない。


QR codes, server system, stickers, tarpaulin
9,000(W) x 2,700(H) cm

Editions / Versions


Artist: The TEA-ROOM (Ryuta Aoki, Souryou Matsumura)
System Design & Dev: Ryuta Aoki (VOLOCITEE)
Server-side Dev: Kokoro Aoki (VOLOCITEE)
Lighting Design: Jiro Endo (SOIHOUSE)
Special Thanks: Shingo Takahashi (MINIMA), Mucha-Kucha

Past Exhibitions

July 24th – Aug. 9th, 2021: Exhibition: Jack into the Noösphere

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