Mariko Mori’s current exhibition “Invisible Dimension”, on view this month at Sean Kelly Gallery, presents 7 new sculptures that push the boundaries of new materials, techniques, and far-out scientific theories.
These sculptures are inspired by cutting-edge astrophysics theories, notably “Ekpyrotic Universe” (stay with me on this). As I understand it, the idea posits that the Big Bang was not the beginning, but something more like the middle: a cyclical collision of 2 parallel universes. That’s not why I love these sculptures, nor will I dive farther into theories I barely understand, but if you DO want to venture into this scientific rabbit-hole, here’s a short explanation on YouTube from the physicist himself.
I should also note that Mariko Mori takes her research and knowledge of science incredibly seriously, as evidenced in her interview in Brooklyn Rail, but you the viewer DO NOT need to understand any of that to be mesmerized by this show.
The two central sculptures, “Cycloid V” and “Ekpyrotic String VI” have an alien-like pearlescent surface, structurally made from stainless steel & glass fiber reinforced polymer. And unlike anything I’ve ever seen, they EMBRACE the columns in the gallery, as if those columns have a greater gravity than the floor. Their placement and curves invite you to walk circles around them, causing you to literally “orbit” the columns too.
The clear sculptures in an adjacent room are created from “dichroic coated layered acrylic”, which does two strange things. First, the material shifts color with every step, and second, the light bends in unpredictable ways. Though they SEEM clear, you rarely see through them – instead they function more like holographic mirrors, revealing a reflection of yourself or another part of the gallery.
The largest of these, “Plasma Stone I”, stands at just over 6 feet tall. It’s a scale that is so specifically human that it feels very much like an aura of someone, or something.
Downstairs, “Spirifer I” and “Spirifer II” are also made from dichroic coated acrylic and intended to represent the “invisible fire of the spirit”. Like the sculptures upstairs, their placement is no accident. To see them, you must descend to the private-feeling “basement” of the gallery below.
Taken as a whole, there’s not just a connection between the mass of the sculpture and the air in the gallery, but also a connection between the wonder of the cosmos and the equally-mysterious internal “soul”. It’s a show that makes you feel tiny in the expanse of cosmic time while also connecting you more closely to it. And if you’re not into any of that, it’s just simply beautiful to see.
All photos © Mariko Mori, Photographed by Jason Wyche, Courtesy Sean Kelly New York.