Mariko Mori And Wave Ufo Cultural Studies Essay

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Mariko Mori is a Japanese artist that grew up with a real talent for art. She was born in 1967 to a wealthy Japanese family, but there is only a small amount of information that Mori wants published about personal life. It is known that her uncle is a well known Japanese construction tycoon who built Mariko's art museum in Tokyo in 2003 (Artnet). Her artwork has developed from a mixture of art and technology, Buddhism, and the idea of universal spiritual consciousness (Deitch). Born in Japan, after graduating multiple art schools, she made her journey across the Pacific and into the United States. Married to Ken Ikeda, she now resides in New York and is one of the most popular western cultured artists in America (Artnet).

In her early career, Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo and worked as a fashion model there. After graduating in 1988, Mori started down the path of her own self-proclaimed innovation. After finishing Bunka Fashion College, she went to London and studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and Chelsea College of Art (Cedar Gallery). She had graduated both institutions by 1992. During the early nineties, she used the techniques of make-up, photography, costuming, and fashion she had learned from all three colleges for her fantasy-based photographs (Artnet).

In her earlier artworks, Mariko used many self-portraits where she was conveyed as a stereotypical Japanese woman. Mori raised current gender issues with the concept of cyberfeminism by dressing up as a school girl, office-worker, and a prostitute. Since she has a background in the fashion industry, she was aware of the influence that an image can have on popular culture (Artnet). Cyberfeminism is the change of the woman's role as a female in today's society (Artbiog). Women are now losing old identities and gaining new ones and Mori wanted to use her photographs to depict that. Mariko dressed as a "cyborg", or cyber organism, to create a sense of how we cannot escape the advancement of technology so we must respect and embrace it with openness and use it for our self -betterment. Some of her famous artwork that is depicted during her early career is "Red Light" and "Play with Me" (Artbiog).

As her career progressed, Mori's cyborgs began to look less human and take on more alien features. Each artwork began to be more technologically advanced and the media she used also began to become more complex. Her artwork began to turn from self-portraits to videos. Mori used these videos so the viewer could not only "see" the art, but now they could also understand and hear it. One of her most famous pieces is "Empty Dream".

After creating several video masterpieces, Mori decided to push the space-age realm even further. For her next project, "Wave UFO", she pushed the technological envelope by using the viewer's brain to create the art. "Wave UFO" fuses real-time computer graphics, brainwave technology, sound, and architectural engineering to create an interactive experience for the viewer (Public Art Fund). Mori used these specifically designed computer programs to interconnect three viewers to the new world at a time. These programs read and monitor the viewer's brainwaves to produce a light show gathered from all three viewers' heads. This form of art was based upon the Buddhist principle that all forms of life in the universe are interconnected. This is also called "oneness", a concept of the world existing as one unified organism (Deitch). It is a symbol of the acceptance of "otherness" and a model for overcoming national and cultural borders. "Wave UFO" unites a person's individual physical experience with Mori's singular vision of a cosmic dream world (Deitch).

"Wave UFO" is a sculpture made of aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, and fiberglass (Public Art Fund). Mori used these different materials to make a light-weight and teardrop shaped "vehicle" that seems to float in midair (Public Art Fund). The outside of the sculpture, which is 34 feet long x 17 feet wide x 14 feet tall, is made of fiberglass (Public Art Fund). This fiberglass shell houses an inside capsule, which viewers enter by steps made of aluminum. Once seated in the capsule, each viewer connects six different electrodes to their head. These electrodes upload real-time brainwave information. According to the Public Art Fund,

[This information is instantly transformed into visual imagery and projected onto a screen inside the capsule. The instant feedback thus incorporates the experience of watching the projection, and the interaction between the three viewers. The forms change shape and color in response to three types of brainwaves, showing which type is most dominant. Alpha (blue) waves indicate wakeful relaxation, Beta (pink) waves indicate alertness or agitation, and Theta (yellow) waves indicate a dreamlike state. When the two cells come together, that demonstrates coherence between the two lobes of the brain. Mental functions such as thinking in other languages or doing math problems immediately transform the characteristics of the graphics] (Public Art Fund).

The second part of the projection links the viewer's experience to the universal experience through a graphic animation sequence based on a series of paintings created by Mori (Public Art Fund). Colorful abstract forms slowly expand and evolve into shapes like single cells and molecular structures, which is said by the Public Art Fund to create a dream world that is at once "primordial and ethereal". With this sequence, Mori brings the viewer from the live biofeedback stage into what she describes as "a deeper consciousness in which the self and the universe become interconnected" (Public Art Fund).

Mori's work, which was finished in 2003, was built under the "Global Present" style. In this type of art, technological advances express how the world is getting smaller and smaller. The late nineties and the beginning of this decade were the time of rapid technological advancement. The internet, television, and international migration caused people across the world to become somewhat neighbors (Preble, pg. 489). Mori created this piece for it to be a refuge for the hyperactive workers in the new global service sector (Preble, pg. 489). Globalization has changed the world and made foreign trade grow exponentially. As technologies grow, so does the art created around the world. New ways of expressing one's ideas and how we interpret the contemporary world are beginning to be seen. This new type of space-aged art expresses worldly issues and the forever-growing global advancement we face today. Mori has been a well-known asset to this new type of art, and with her cyborgs, cyber feminism, and fashion background, she will continue to be a frontrunner in the global present style.

Work Cited

"Artbiog." SHEBORG TO SHAMAN. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

"Biography." The Art of Mariko Mori. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

Frank, Patrick, and Duane Preble. Prebles' Artforms: an Introduction to the Visual Arts. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson /Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.

"Mariko Mori." Cedar Gallery. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

"Public Art Fund: Mariko Mori." Public Art Fund. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

"Public Art Fund: Mori: Press Release." Public Art Fund. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

"Tea with Mariko." The Art World Online. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

"Wave UFO." We Make Money Not Art. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.