Mariko Mori: Sculpture, Photography

Fans of sci-fi and fantasy will likely be drawn to the artist Mariko Mori. Some of her work looks like it could be a still from the movie The Fifth Element, with its bright colors and futuristic backgrounds. Mori disregards typical standards for modern art and explores what she is interested in, instead. In short, her pieces are really, really cool to look at.


Mariko Mori

Mori was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1967. One of her parents was an inventor while the other was an art historian, which seem to explain a lot about Mori’s passions. She followed in their creative footsteps by eventually studying fashion design, and later art. Her work blew up in popularity in the 1990s, when she was only in her early twenties. At this point in her career, her pieces were largely influenced by manga and presented futuristic “cybergeishas” (is that not the most awesome word, or what?) in modern day cities.




Tea Ceremony III, 1995                                               Subway, 1994

Mori often used herself as the models for her photographs. As you can see, her pictures show these spacey, dream-like characters that seem to be almost stuck in their urban environment. There’s clearly a disconnect between these women and modern society.

In addition to photography, Mori also plays with some more interactive elements with her art. Some of her pieces feature videos and sound– one, known as Pure Land from 1996, brings viewers wearing 3D glasses into a theater playing her film, while they are “treated to burst of cool, scented air on their faces.”


A still from Pure Land. It looks just as strange and whimsical as the experience above sounds. She starts incorporating some Japanese traditions and cultural elements in her art during this time in her career.

Mori further delves into the ideas of spirituality and nature with her project called Primal Rhythm which she began in 2010. She plans on putting one permanent installation on every continent (minus Antarctica), which will be nondestructive to the environment. In doing so, she is trying to embrace the history and culture of each place, by reacreating “modern version of celstial sites.” Her first installation, which was finished in 2011 in Miyako Island, Japan, features a tall, reflective “Sun Pillar” meant to observe the solstices.


Her next project is planned for Brazil. In the meantime, she’s also making art based on some astrophysics-y kind of stuff. Mori’s pieces are looking at different theories of the universe, and are often twisted, spiral shapes which don’t have any set start or end. They are meant to show the “theory that the universe is filled with infinite cycles of energy, and even parallel universes.” She accomplishes them by using 3D printing (another clear indication of her interest in technology) and gives them a white, pearlescent hue. They really do look almost otherworldly.


Ekpyrotic String II, 2014

Mariko Mori is probably the most “out there” sort of artist I’ve covered– and I love her for that. Everything she does is so ethereal and odd… I feel like she’s almost more alien-like than human-like! Nonetheless, her artwork is fascinating, and I hope you enjoyed learning more about it.


Visualizing an Endless Universe: Mariko Mori Makes the Cosmos Life-Size


2 thoughts on “Mariko Mori: Sculpture, Photography

  1. Gabby Giotto says:

    Her work is really awesome and original! I’ve never really heard of an artist that has done so much work in that many different fields. I think it’s also impressive that she wants to put an installation on every continent. That would be a huge accomplishment!

  2. Brooke Juice says:

    Mori’s work is truly beautiful. It is so unique and unlike any art I’ve ever seen before. Out of the ones you showed, I think i like Subway, 1994 the best. I’m sure her next project will be another great one. Just curious, who’s your favorite artist?

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