Purple Magazine
— The Revolutions Issue #40 F/W 2023

mariko mori, the unseen power of energetic fields




artworks by MARIKO MORI


Her prismatic art triggers a paradigm shift, promoting a symbiotic union of nature, light, and technology, and inspiring a new age realm.


OLIVIER ZAHM — I’ve been looking at your work, and I find it’s becoming deeper and more interesting. It fits with the idea of revolution because we’re in a period of fear and transformation, and I believe that artists can help us to discover new directions. You yourself have taken a radical new direction in your work since the ’90s, right? You went from manga-inspired artworks, a bit pop and futuristic — I remember the cover of Purple in 1994/’95 — to a more peaceful, abstract, and almost scientific direction. One of my first surprises  was seeing your beautiful house on Miyako Island. What was the idea behind it? Is it an artwork?

MARIKO MORI — I wanted to make a place like a sanctuary. The site itself, according to local mythology, is a sacred place. Below the land, there’s a cave that’s sacred, and a village… I wanted to create a space that liberates us from everyday life, but also a space without any purpose. I could work there, draw there, and meditate, but I wanted to have an open space, a place to open our minds.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, opening consciousness is very important for you today.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. But also very important was the location of the house, which offers a view of nature, the ocean. In a way, it reflects human nature as nature itself. When we look at nature, we are reminded not only that we belong to nature, but also that we are nature.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Can people visit the house, or is it a secret place? 

MARIKO MORI — I finished the house last summer, and I moved in at the end of last year, so I’m still learning what would be the best way to use it and how to open it to the public. I’m testing myself because the space is very remote, so I cannot easily see friends or go to a store. I have only a big rock in front of me. I want to see how much this isolation from the world will open up another dimension that I may not yet have discovered.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Are you looking for an invisible dimension in your art? You make a lot of connections with the cosmos and with particle physics and energetic fields. How do you capture this invisible dimension in your work?

MARIKO MORI — Through my personal experience, including meditation, I had the chance to encounter a great light, which is invisible. It’s not the light that we can see with our eyes, but we can feel it. So, I try to understand how that experience can be interpreted. Buddhist ideas of enlightenment or reincarnation or a deeper consciousness are very close to how I think that can be described. I really feel that in prehistoric times, our remote ancestors had a more direct understanding of life and rebirth. But because we are in a society that does not allow us to activate our senses to understand life, death, rebirth, or even the meaning of our life, our senses are buried; our antennae are no longer functioning. As artists, making artworks, we experience coincidences that are out of our control. When great things happen — we can call it miracles. Because we experience that, we may be better in touch with our senses, like our remote ancestors, to be more sensitive.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, in a way, your art is very spiritual or transcendental.

MARIKO MORI — I would like to dedicate my work to that. I would like to be like a crystal flag.

When I look at prehistoric sites like Stonehenge or other stone circles from between 3000 to 5000 B.C., people didn’t have sophis­ticated technology, they didn’t have borders, and they had a universal language of expression and a very similar way of living. I feel that humans were more connected and deeply rooted in nature. They respected nature; they respected a higher being and expressed that. I want to extend these traditions through my own work.

OLIVIER ZAHM — There’s a lot of mystery around these prehistoric sites because the stones are so massive that we still don’t understand how they were able to technically achieve such constructions. We still don’t
understand the cosmic logic of the organization of these sites.

MARIKO MORI — These sites are naturally very powerful.

OLIVIER ZAHM — I read in an article that your abstract luminescent culture of stones has a system of lighting that is connected to particles and atoms.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. It’s connected to Super-Kamiokande, which is a neutrino-detecting system. The work is a connected network, and every time it detects a neutrino, it displays this in the work. Every hour, I use a program to show the neutrino of a supernova.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s this invisible light coming to us, right?

MARIKO MORI — Yes, in particles.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, each time a neutrino is detected, a light glows?

MARIKO MORI — Yes. The work’s light changes when it captures solar neutrinos or atmospheric neutrinos, in real time. I wanted people to pay attention to supernova neutrinos. A massive number of neutrinos pass through the Earth; the system captured that in 1997, I believe. And I use the original data captured. Supernovas happen everywhere in the universe, but because of the distance, they can be detected about once every 50 to 100 years. We may not see them. That’s why I have programs, so every hour you can experience that.

OLIVIER ZAHM — For me, one of the most transcendental experiences is seeing how vast the universe is. I saw a video that showed the distance between us and the sun, the distance between the solar system and the center of the galaxy, and the number of galaxies that we can detect. But there’s even more behind our detection systems.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. I had the chance to work with a team who produced a digital galaxy; they put in a program all the galaxies that NASA had. And when you zoom out, the digital galaxy looks almost like the synapses in the brain — they’re all connected. I was interested in the multiverse and also in Paul Steinhardt’s theory of the endless universe, the ekpyrotic universe. It’s the idea that the universe did not begin with the Big Bang, but that it actually repeats, almost like a reincar­nation, in a continuous circle, and not simply one time — multiple ones could exist. Modern human beings are already visualizing the scale of what we can imagine, but reality may not be something that we can imagine. I suspect there was no beginning. Light already existed, so there was
no beginning.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And no beginning also means no time. Time is an illusion.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. There can be no ending, either.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, this may be a way to approach and think about the universe and everyday life, and to reconnect with nature in a different way. Maybe the universe can kind of replace religion or spirituality?

MARIKO MORI — Science is probably the closest thing that modern society can trust in or believe in. The theories and discoveries of scientists about the universe are knowledge that
we share, but it doesn’t mean that they explain reality. I suspect that what we don’t know is eternity.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And if there’s no time, eternity is now.

MARIKO MORI — I feel that life knowsbeverything, but our mind doesn’t know.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And, for you, is art a way to show people this possibility or to get a perception of it? Because it shouldn’t only be through the rational mind, right? It’s also something that has to be emotional, that connects with this abstract idea or sense.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. Some people feel that they have already seen certain images and sculptures that I’ve produced. Almost like a shared knowledge, and they’re not necessarily my creations. Maybe I’m just remembering something, or I’m able to visualize images that live deeper in our consciousness, so it feels familiar when you see them. And experiencing or seeing them reminds you of that because we are all the same.

OLIVIER ZAHM — In French, we call it réminiscence — when you have a memory of something that was inside your brain, but you didn’t know. Remembering something that you actually never experienced but was already in you.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. I try to bring that into the world. The work reminds you of something…

OLIVIER ZAHM — This possibility. What you’re trying to do is a very ambitious, complex task. It requires a lot of sensibility and concentration.

MARIKO MORI — Yes. But I’m still alive. [Laughs]

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you see a connection between your work and James Turrell’s universe?

MARIKO MORI — Yes, I respect his work very much. I think he’s a very significant artist of our time. The dynamism and scale… We’re in a really great, fundamental period in art history.

OLIVIER ZAHM — The concept of this issue is that revolutions can emerge from an alliance between art and science. Do you agree with that? That the connection between art, physical science, and cosmology can help us to change?

MARIKO MORI — It certainly can be a stepping stone. But the reason I wanted to bring in prehistoric ideas is that our remote ancestors had a better connection with nature and the senses, whereas ours have decayed — we just haven’t activated them. And now is the time to really start to activate them, and to not rely on science and technology so much.

OLIVIER ZAHM — That’s very important: to come back to a period of time that has totally disappeared because we don’t know so much. We have a few signs, like those big stone monuments, but it’s certainly a form of civilization that was highly advanced in terms of their connection with the cosmos and the energetic fields that you are looking for.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Can you say something about your beautiful cycloid sculptures? They’re also very complex to produce.

MARIKO MORI — Again, it’s a visualization of invisible energy, such as the cycle of the universe or life and death or energy from nature. It’s two Möbius forms, but bonding with each other to create a new energy. It’s really making the invisible visible.

OLIVIER ZAHM — I know you’re very minimalist, but are you also interested in psychedelic art? In mushrooms, for example.

MARIKO MORI — [Laughs] Mushrooms! I know, in the ’70s… And Native Americans or some tribes in Brazil have used them as natural medicines to experience different dimensions, and they understand that there is an invisible world that we don’t see. They were used for initiation or guidance. But you don’t need them. You can just go to the woods or under the ocean, and you can feel these energies.


Mariko Mori, Sun Pillar, 2011, layered acrylic, installation on Seven Light bay, Miyako island, Okinawa, Japan, copyright Faou Foundation, mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, photo Richard Learoyd Mariko Mori, Plasma Stone II, 2017-2018, dichroic coated layered acrylic, corian base, 49 1/4 x 33 1/8 x 20 3/4 inches, installation at Sean Kelly, New York, copyright Mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, courtesy of the artist, photo Jason Wyche Mariko Mori, Plasma Stone I, 2016-2018, dichroic coated layered acrylic, 74 3/4 x 32 7/8 x 38 1/8 inches, installation at Sean Kelly, New York, copyright Mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, courtesy of the artist, photo Jason Wyche Mariko Mori, Cycloid V, 2016-2018, painted stainless steel, painted steel base, permanent installation at Toranomon Hills Business Tower, Tokyo, copyright Mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, courtesy of the artist, photo Jason Wych Mariko Mori, Yuputira, 2018, Mariko Mori Residence, Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan, copyright Mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, courtesy of the artist, Photo Sahira Construction Co. Ltd. Mariko Mori, Eternal I, 2019-2021, aluminum, paint, lacquer, permanent installation at Comico Art Museum Yufuin, Yufu, copyright Mariko Mori, ADAGP, Paris, 2023, courtesy of the artist, photo Nhn Japan corp.

[Table of contents]

The Revolutions Issue #40 F/W 2023

Table of contents

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