▶ New works by tech art superstar Mariko Mori

Posted on: December 23, 2013

Japanese technology art artist Mariko Mori currently has two  major exhibitions, in Tokyo and New York.  I like the way how Mori illustrates fundamental human experiences by creating high-tech, polished  science fiction-like environments and installations. And being one of the genuine superstars of tech art, she has to be included in this blog. So a post on these new works of Mori to focus some attention on her and her recent art work:

Mariko Mori started her career as a fashion designer and model in the late 1980s. Not surprisingly, Mori’s early works use her own body as the subject and she costumes herself as a  technological alien woman in everyday scenes, loosely playing on Japanese pop culture and the cyborg theme.

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As more Japanese artists do,  Mori liked to juxtapose Eastern mythology with Western culture, often through layering photography and digital imaging. Her early work was rooted in Manga, kitsch and urban cyber culture, often depicting Mori herself as a cyborg from an alternate, pop-futuristic reality. In her early photographs, such as Subway (1994) and Play with Me (1994), Mori appears as the cyborg heroine of a film who navigates the streets of Tokyo:


However, from 1999 onwards Mori departed from the use of her own image and instead began to create entire environments to facilitate the viewer’s own transcendental experience. Her work did expand beyond the colorful hyperreality of Play with Me to include a fascination with ancient cultures. Among cultures explored in Mori’s work are the prehistoric Jomon culture in Japan and Celtic traditions in Europe, investigating a more abstract minimalism and celebrating the enlightening and expansive qualities of technological innovation and its interaction with its surroundings.  

Her theme “has shifted from the body to (human) consciousness” in her own words*. In one her most well-known works,  Wave UFO (1999–2003) which was exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale, viewers enter a biomorphic pod and are fitted with brain-wave electrode headsets capable of projecting images of the wearer’s brain waves. As extra-sensory information is transformed into visual imagery, the participants enjoy a novel form of communication for a few minutes before Mori’s animation Connected World appears on the rounded ceiling of the inner chamber of the pod:

By juxtaposing divergent cultures and disciplines such as Buddhism and science, or traditional tea ceremonies and Manga, Mori creates an aesthetic vocabulary that points simultaneously forward and backward. And so does her new work “Primal Rhythm” which is a land art piece created on Miyako Island, near Okinawa in Japan. The first part of it was built in 2011, the next part still has to be completed:

The work is part of an exhibition called Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori  at the Japan Society in New York which contains 35 sculptures, drawings, photographs, sound and video work which together  deliver a narrative of birth, death and rebirth—a continuous circle of life force that Mori observes on a cosmic scale.

Simultaneously, Mariko Mori also exhibits in the luxurious Espace Louis Vuitton in Tokyo. This exhibition is called  ‘Infinite Renew’ and amasses sculptures and installations in a series of works that -again- metaphorically reflect the never-ending circulation of life and death. The sculptures are interactive and react to the movements of the viewers: the lights of the sculptures change according to the energy level of the visitors according to Mori:

I missed the 2007 survey exhibition Oneness of Mariko Mori in the Groninger Museum (which by the way apparently became the world’s most visited contemporary art exhibition with 538.328 visitors) and New York or Tokyo are too far away for a visit. Therefore, lots of links to additional sources of online information on Mariko Mori’s art below instead:

* Art Review September 2006

More information:

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