Robotic arms depict athletic motions in a Zen garden, in Jason Bruges’ Tokyo installation

The Constant Gardeners invites viewers to meditate on the potentially symbiotic relationship between nature and technology.

28 July 2021


As the Tokyo Olympics are in full swing, a new performative robotic art installation by British art studio Jason Bruges has been revealed in the city's Ueno Park, as part of the games' cultural programme, the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13. Analysing past footage from a vast range of sport and physical activities, The Constant Gardeners aims to make what its creators call “a visual language” to depict athletic motions. The robots within the installation produce representations of movements which the “gardeners”, a team of four industrial robot arms mounted on linear rails, rake into a gravel canvas.

The practice is inspired by the act of raking sand and gravel beds in traditional Japanese Zen gardens which is intended to represent ripples in water and induce meditative states. The act attempts to strip nature back through an insistence on minimalism.

The “gardeners” will work together daily to form roughly a hundred and fifty illustrations throughout the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The British design studio led by Jason Bruges wishes to explore relationships between nature and technology through the installation, which it hopes will encourage visitors to reconnect with their surroundings.


Jimmy Cohrssen: Jason Bruges Studio (Copyright © Jason Bruges Studio, 2021)

In the interest of sustainability, the studio reclaimed second-hand industrial robots which used to work in factories, giving them a new lease of life. Thereby, the studio hopes to reflect on the role of machines in our daily lives and suggests new narratives around robotics, highlighting their potential for experimental creativity and “how innovative technologies can be used in storytelling,” says Bruges. Because robotics can often become incomprehensible forms of technology, the studio aims to change perspectives through using modern machines to induce meditations on tradition and holistic craftsmanship.

The artwork, which Bruges hopes will celebrate “the incredible skill and achievements of the Olympic Games’ athletes”, is commissioned by The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo and is being delivered in partnership with the British Council as part of their UK/JAPAN bilateral season. The installation will run until 5 September.

(Copyright © Jason Bruges Studio 2021)


Jimmy Cohrssen: Jason Bruges Studio (Copyright © Jason Bruges Studio, 2021)


Jimmy Cohrssen: Jason Bruges Studio (Copyright © Jason Bruges Studio, 2021)

Hero Header

Jimmy Cohrssen: Jason Bruges Studio (Copyright © Jason Bruges Studio, 2021)

Share Article

About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.