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August 1, 2014

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Tea time with artist Mai Ueda at Cosmo’s P3 Studio

The Details

Tea Ceremony on the Moon
April 20-21; 6, 7 & 8 p.m.
Surprise Tea Ceremony
April 27-28, times TBD
Both at Cosmopolitan’s P3 Studio, free, reservations at eventbrite.com/org/1797067025

For her first tea ceremony inside the Cosmopolitan’s P3 Studio, New York City artist Mai Ueda had guests in panda suits moving through the space, speaking no recognizable language. On this particular night, Friday, April 13, she’s presenting a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. But it’s technologically augmented: While we’re on the floor in a darkened room, sipping the last of our tea, a live feed of the ceremony is projected onto the floor and reflected in mirrors onto the wall. So while we’re journeying inward, we see ourselves being inward. As with traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, we’re leaving the real world behind, but we’re watching ourselves do so. This is Tea Ceremony in a Parallel Universe.

Ueda has led an underground tea ceremony in Milan and an “under the water” electronic tea ceremony in Italy. She says this is her first parallel universe ceremony. Like the other ceremonies this month at P3—Tea Ceremony as Pandas and this weekend’s Tea Ceremony on the Moon—it’s experimental.

Ceremoniously, she cleans the cups with a cloth napkin that she tucks into her kimono and whisks water with powdered green tea for each individual cup that’s passed from one to another before reaching its intended recipient. Her soft voice is swallowed by the ambient noises in and outside of the darkened room. A microphone in the middle of the floor is supposed to project and echo the sounds, but it doesn’t work. Through the window we see the crowd in the seating area of P3 Commons, perched on stylish chairs, eating pizza, walking past and sometimes looking in at us in both of our universes.

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