JAPANESE ARTIST IMAGINES TOMORROW FOR TODAY

In Arts & Life /

by André Voshart
Senior Reporter

There is no category for the world and art of Mariko Mori.

The New York-based Japanese artist’s photographs, multimedia projects and installations appear to stem from an imagined future, mixing influences from science fiction and pop culture.

Last Friday, at Ryerson’s Centre for Computing and Engineering, Mori had difficulties with her English through most of the presentation. Still, her art spoke for itself.

“It’s not so easy to describe it here,” said Mori halfway through the first of three Kodak Lecture Series to be held in the next four months.

Mori tried desperately to translate the meaning of her art to the audience. Her early works were photographs, but she focused on how, in her later works, she moved towards different technologies.

Ed Slopek, chair of image arts, introduced Mori as “a seductive being of a world yet to come” and her art as an “unbridled expression of optimism.” He referenced her work as splendorous, his praise later demonstrated by a video of her museum installations, such as Wave UFO, a U.S.$1.5 million spaceship-like pod sculpture financed by herself through the sales of her previous works.

The piece is an immersive three-person environment that combines real-time computer graphics, brainwave technology, music and state-of-the-art engineering.

For Mori, the challenge was keeping her vision intact yet being able to yield when her vision overwhelmed technological possibilities.

“I think the fruit of this project was the collaboration of different specialties,” she said.

New media students in the audience seemed drawn by the fact her art is so large yet so possible.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think she’s that strong of a speaker,” third-year new media student Jennifer Kwong said. “But the piece spoke for itself. The sheer size of it. (It’s) out of this world. Out of this time.”

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