Intersections: Mori Mariko and the Art of Global Connectedness
Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 23, November 2009

Mori Mariko and the Art of Global Connectedness

Allison Holland

  1. Mori Mariko is one of the many contemporary artists who live in, and respond to, an increasingly global culture that contributes to the formation and expression of personal and professional identity. Attempts to categorise or label artists by nationality risk an oversimplification of their identity and do not fully acknowledge the continued effects of globalisation on the individual. In the case of Mori, some may be inclined to emphasise the artist's identity, and her creative production, as essentially 'Japanese.' Mori's relationship with the Japanese art community is elusive and rarely discussed—a key factor when considering national inclusiveness.
  2. In analysing Mori's oeuvre several threads emerge—one in particular is the dominance of the artist's performative body within the visual field of her early works and its subsequent disappearance. The theatrical setting and costuming of her early photographs undeniably reflect the trends in Japanese popular culture, especially that of adolescent Japanese girls, known as shōjo culture.[1] Even with the body absent the Japanese aesthetics of Mori's later installations encouraged a continued interpretation of her work as an expression of nationhood. Such analysis however, stands in contrast to Mori's intention to promote universal communication and connectedness. From the late 1990s onwards, Mori definitively moved outside of the specific identifiers of global cultures to increasingly use an extraterrestrial and space aesthetic. This significant shift in Mori's oeuvre from performative body to absented body, from pop subculture to extraterrestrial aesthetics will be considered in the context of its reception by a globalised art audience.
  3. The trajectory of Mori's international art career has been exceptional. Born and educated in Japan, Mori moved to London in 1989 to study painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Mori's experience of living in London during the late 1980s and early 1990s pervaded her work. The economic, political and social climate of this cosmopolitan, European city challenged Mori's understanding of the constructs of self and nation, ethnicity and gender. Mori would have been aware of the racial tension and political instability that challenged Thatcher's ideal of a cohesive and homogeneous 'Britishness' throughout the 1980s.[2] On a broader level the music, fashion and art subcultures that Mori encountered presented her with alternative histories and forms of creative expression that embraced difference and promoted an urban 'tribal' connectedness.[3]
  4. One of Mori's student works, Proud to be British (1992), reveals that her identity was determined by global, national, communal and familial hegemonies. In particular, her days at Chelsea provoked an understanding of identity based on the current mass media constructs of celebrity, fashion model and artist. Having previously studied fashion design and worked as a model in Tokyo, Mori drew on the transnational design tropes of women's fashion magazines for Proud to be British. The artist presents a constructed self—dressed in a double-breasted suit, pearls and 'crown' she glances sideways with her chin coquettishly resting in a gloved hand. Alongside the image in Japanese script (katakana) and in English are the captions 'U.K. street elegance' and 'Queen of United Kingdom.'
  5. Proud to be British conveys a sense of parody that alludes to Mori's predilection in other works of this period to critically assess the tropes of blonde supremacy. The crown Mori wears was pivotal to Vivienne Westwood's Harris Tweed autumn/winter collection of 1987–1988. The Harris Tweed collection exemplified the designer's ongoing obsession with royalty and, in particular, the conservative outfits of Queen Elizabeth II as a young princess. Mori's dark hair and eyes contrast with the blonde curls and blue eyes of Sarah Stockdale, Westwood's favourite model, who spearheaded the collection's advertising campaign. As a model-princess, Mori also refers to the media's promotion of the demure, blonde and blue-eyed celebrity royal Diana, Princess of Wales as a quintessential English beauty.
  6. In 1992, after completing her honours degree at Chelsea, Mori enrolled in the Independent Study Program (ISP) at the Whitney Museum of American Art. New York offered Mori a different cultural milieu and the ISP broadened her experience of critical theory and diverse artistic practices. The key issues that were transforming the social milieu of New York and dominating the course in the 1990s were AIDS activism, postcolonial theory, and the politicisation of gender.[4] More importantly, the program positioned Mori close to the centre of the global art market, offering unique opportunities to launch her profile as a viable emerging artist. Mori was establishing herself as a production studio artist working across the media of commercially produced photographs, video and installations. In the immediate years after the ISP Mori lived and worked in both New York and Tokyo, producing a series of works which I will refer to as the Tokyo photographs. Like the artist's student works, these images emerged from Mori's understanding of what it was to be a woman living with familiar local and disparate global stereotypes of feminine beauty.

    Figure 1. Mori Mariko, Play with me, 1994. Fuji Super Gloss print, wood, pewter frame, 305 x 366 x 7.6 cm. Courtesy of Shiseidō Art House, Shizuoka; Deitch Projects, New York.

  7. In each of the Tokyo photographs Mori is a self-constructed idol, or idoru, ubiquitous in the world of J-Pop, anime or digital gaming.[5] These idols reflect the pastime of cosplay (kosupure, or costume playing) that has been popular amongst Japanese urban youth since the mid-1990s. In Play with me (1994) (see Figure 1), Mori has immersed her cute, blue-armoured idoru in the visual codifications of the advertising banners outside the storefront of an electronics store in Tokyo's Akihabara. In another photograph, Warrior (1994), Mori is armed and wearing a futuristic survival suit within the darkened interior of a generic gaming arcade. As with many of the fantastical characters conjured by Mori, despite their directed gaze and implied superhero strength they go unnoticed by people around them. Like gaming avatars or anime characters, these idols lack agency—appearing to be controlled by an unseen game player.
  8. In Love hotel (1994), a uniformed schoolgirl kneels on a circular bed in a themed room. Concealed inside a silver unitard with angular ears this idoru is suggestive of Tezuka Osamu's universal robotic hero Tetsuwan Atomu, or Astro Boy (1951–1967).[6] The mise en scène is potent with ambiguity as Mori's idol asserts a youthful naïvety and vulnerability. This Lolita does not recline submissively on the hotel bed nor provocatively engage with the viewer. In Red light (1994), the idol wears a shimmering pink dress and pointy-eared silver unitard. Standing amidst the neon lights and signage of Kabuki-chō back streets (a well-known 'pink' or red light district of Tokyo) the idol takes a call on a mobile phone. Like the photographs of Yanagi Miwa,[7] Mori's generic settings and cute idoru are dramatic and relatively formulaic. In retrospect, we can see that the work of artists such as Yanagi and Mori coincided with the global promotion and popularity of Japanese subcultures, in particular anime and manga. Mori's cyborg lovers appear to perpetuate the entertainment industries' use of the female body as a site of desire and pleasure—a stereotype that many young women photographers challenged throughout the late 1990s as social conditions in Japan changed.
  9. Birth of a star (1995) is a three-dimensional backlit Duratrans, or colour durable transparency, with accompanying sound track in which Mori plays at being a virtual J-pop star. Microphone in hand and surrounded by colourful bubbles, this teen idol reflects the machinations of the Japanese music industry and its construction of celebrity. Mori's use of costume, such as the white go-go boots and plastic tartan skirt in Birth of a star, plays a significant role in reinforcing cultural stereotypes.
  10. The Tokyo photographs only obliquely explore the social expectations placed on young Japanese women during the mid-1990s. Although Mori dismisses any political intent, these playful idols do, however, subvert and disavow any one perspective of the artist's identity.[8] The works also visualise the intersection of artistic narcissism with popular culture at this time, characteristic of young female photographers such as Hiromix and Nagashima Yurie.[9] Although not technically the photographer of the Tokyo works, Mori had full conceptual control over her creative team and her presence in the visual field was always dominant. The artist's preference for constructed self-portraiture, her baroque use of colour and theatrical mise en scène positioned her alongside other contemporary photographers. Like Tracey Moffatt, Cindy Sherman and Morimura Yasumasa,[10] Mori relies on physical transformation to comment on gender and ethnic construction and yet her nationality and gender are always apparent.
  11. Mori's performative use of anime cosplay may offer her a vehicle for transformation. However, as Mori shifts from one idoru to another, one can discern schisms in her masquerade. The interruptions between one avatar and the next offer glimpses of the artist's unmediated self. This mapping of various constructed avatars onto Mori as an artistic individual makes apparent transgressions or ambiguities that question social order. Mori's immersion in Japanese society and her familiarity with British and American culture necessitates an appreciation of her relatively detached, and therefore potentially more critical, perspective on Japanese society as well as Western feminist discourse. The Tokyo photographs became signature images of the artist in the Euro-American, rather than the Japanese, art market—perhaps indicating a continued orientalisation of the Asian 'other' by the West. Equally, it could exemplify an astute understanding of the art market on the part of the artist. That is, Mori utilised Japanese elements in her work and constructed a persona that set her apart from her contemporaries. However, to what degree Mori self-orientalises for market appeal and what comes about in response to her own experience of Japanese youth culture is difficult to determine.
  12. Kuroda Raiji in 'The other side of the other: Asian artists in the West,' comments on the artist's agency in the construction of a self.

      Artists who are familiar with Postmodernist ideas in the West are aware that it is impossible for a 'true' self to exist without the intervention of the 'image' or representation even if one tries to escape from racial prejudices and stereotypes. If one desires to show his or her true self…it is done by quoting the existing representations of Asians produced by Euro-American Society and transforming and subverting them.[11]

    Kuroda argues that self-portraiture and the use of the physical body are as close as an artist can get to the true self. That is, 'race,' gender and age are evident even in the use of masquerade, which is clearly the case for Mori.
  13. By the late 1990s, the artist's professionalism and developed practice resulted in her meteoric rise to fame. Mori was now well positioned in a global market, having established representation with the high-profile galleries of Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris and Jeffrey Deitch in New York. Mori was also establishing her profile in Tokyo as a Japanese national living overseas with a solo exhibition at Shiseido Gallery. At the same time, Mori was seeking representation with the prestigious Gallery Koyanagi, ensuring her a place amongst the elite in the national art community. Mori's creative production, especially her Tokyo photographs, reflected a negotiation of Japanese culture and identity within a transnational flow of marketing and consumption. However, unlike artists based exclusively within Japan, Mori was living and working in more than one significant global art community.
  14. By the late 1990s, Mori's cyborg idoru had evolved into an 'other-worldly' meld of deity, alien and girl-next-door. A performance-based video, Miko no inori (Shaman girl's prayer) (1996) opens with the artist wearing a space age costume within the streamlined interior of arching glass and steel of Kansai International Airport. The synthetic fabric of Mori's white-on-white costume shimmers in the ambient light, replete with winged shoulders, white wig and a small silver 'tiara.' A wide band of subdued colour has been applied across Mori's eyes and cheeks, like shamanistic totemic markings. Here the idol is endowed with a supernatural power, her eyes flash momentarily when the ambient light hits her reflective contact lenses. Mori caresses a crystal ball, suggesting that as a Shintō shrine maiden, or miko, she has the ability to prophesy and to commune with higher powers.
  15. On either side of the miko's solid form are two transparent replicants, like time-shifting apparitions. Emerging in Mori's work around this time are concepts of the past, present and future. Alternatively, the miko figures might reflect the triads in Buddhist sculptural traditions or the three modes of the Buddha as discussed in the Trikāya Doctrine.[12] According to this doctrine the central figure is the nirmanakaya or physical body subject to the effects of time and space. On either side are the sambhogakaya, or a sublime celestial manifestation of the Buddha, and the dharmakaya, or originating Buddha that embodies the principles of Enlightenment. In this way Mori merges Shinto with Buddhist elements through the lens of contemporary art and popular culture, denying any singular reading or interpretation.

    Figure 2. Mori Mariko, Pure Land, from the Esoteric Cosmos series, 1996–97. Glass with photo interlayer on five panels, 305 x 610 x 2.2 cm. Courtesy of Deitch Projects, New York.

  16. In Nirvana (1996–1997), and the derivative photographic work Pure Land (see Figure 2), Mori's creative reinterpretation of Japanese traditional iconography blended with innovative three-dimensional cinematography resulted in a watershed moment for the artist and set her apart from other contemporary media artists. Floating above a calm sea, Mori appears as the popular Heian deity Kichijōten who embodies ideal beauty and is harbinger of prosperity and happiness. The avatar holds in her hand the attribute of the nyoi hōju, or wish-granting jewel, symbolising the Buddha's universal mind, or nirvana. It is believed that the jewel has the power to expel evil, cleanse corruption and fulfil wishes.[13] Orbiting around Kichijōten are clouds on which colourful, animated aliens play musical instruments. The heady scent of sandalwood, dispersed by an artificial breeze, drifts overhead to extend the audience's immersive experience. Murakami Kanji developed this technological blend of moving film and animation,[14] while Mori provided the creative heart in her role as scriptwriter, director, producer and actor. In an ironic twist, Mori uses the illusion of entertainment technologies to merge an age-old goddess of fortune and Enlightenment with global consumerism.
  17. In the photographs from the Esoteric cosmos series (1996–1998) Mori visualises the cardinal points and four of the five elements—earth, water, fire and wind—of the ancient cosmological principles of the universe.[15] In Mirror of water (1996) Mori appears as a multitude of futuristic idoru floating, along with a transparent alien head, in a cavernous underworld. The mirror-like pool featured refers to the clarity of mind associated with Enlightenment. In Burning desire (1996–1998), four seated figures engulfed in flames levitate above an arid canyon near Huo Yan Shan, or Flaming Mountain, in Xinjiang Province. In the centre and slightly above the others, Mori is dressed in a white robe seated cross-legged, encircled by rainbow light. The coloured costume of each figure and the derivative Tibetan monks' hats they wear suggest the Five Dhyani Buddhas common to the Vajrayana mandala. A student of Tibetan Buddhism, Mori has developed her own iconography to visualise the state of nirvana, which is achieved when the 'fire' of sensory-based desire has been extinguished.[16]
  18. These futuristic avatars and icons of Japan's historical and religious past make apparent the artist's concern for the disparities between contemporary scientific investigation and spirituality. As a cyborg-deity, Mori hypothetically merges robotics and biotechnology with the human body. This is not merely a reflexive machine, devoid of feeling and belief, but is rather modelled on the Japanese popular imaginings of humanoid 'shells' animated by an intangible metaphysical energy that could be described as the 'Buddha nature.'[17] Costume, setting and the avatars' religious attributes help to promote a 'techno-orientalist'[18] reading of Mori's work by her predominantly Western audience. That is, the technologically innovative nature of Mori's work and the artist's performative role as robot-idoru-deity reaffirm Japanese stereotypes of individual and nation, and their position as 'other.'

    Figure 3. Mori Mariko, Beginning of the end – Angkor Wat, 1999. Cibachrome laminated on curved wood museum box. Courtesy of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris; Albion Gallery, London.

  19. In the media-based installation Link, and the associated panoramic photographs in the Beginning of the end (1995–2006) series (see Figure 3), the spatial and temporal conditions of the artist's identity are manipulated. Mori traverses the world and history encapsulated in the Body capsule (1995) to twelve locations considered as 'present,' 'future-present' and 'past' cities, including Times Square, Shanghai, Paris and Angkor Wat. Filmed at different times of the day, and on occasion with audience engagement, Mori's avatars are both present in, and yet detached from, their picture-postcard environs. Each of the world cities and heritage sites is immediately identifiable as a tourist location, and as such is integrated within the global economic and cultural network that underpins contemporary consumer-based civilisation.
  20. Mori has a more personal connection to some of the locations in Link, primarily through the activities of her family's ideologies of optimistic and ordered views of future civilisations. In contrast, the world heritage sites featured at the end of Link, such as Angkor Wat, are vestiges of the great achievements of past civilisations where ritual observances of deity-kings ensured communal prosperity. In the final moments of Link, Mori's avatar disappears from the Body capsule, alluding to the avatar's corporeal shift into a parallel existence. More importantly, it marks the artist's corporeal withdrawal from the visual field of her work.

    Figure 4. Mori Mariko, Dream temple, 1997–99. Installation: metal, glass, plastic, fibre optics, fabric, Vision Dome (3-D hemispherical display), audio, 500 x 1000 cm. Courtesy of Fondazione Prada, Milan; Deitch Projects, New York.

  21. An architectural vision of dichroic glass, Dream temple (1997–99) (see Figure 4) was not conjured entirely from Mori's imagination but was based on a Japanese national icon, a sacred site and tourist destination. It is a small-scale reinterpretation of the Palace of Dreams, or Yumedono (739 CE), a memorial to Shōtoku Taishi (574–622) at Hōryūji, near Nara.[20] The Yumedono symbolises the regent's vision to unify the nation and to disseminate the higher consciousness of Buddhism to all his subjects. Projected inside Dream temple is 4'44", a computer-generated immersive experience based on thirty drawings by Mori.[21] The abstract nature of 4'44" positions it beyond the linguistic and the symbolic, activating the audience's engagement on a subconscious level. Mori says the work was meant to open the viewer to the universe and take them back to before their birth.

      …it is a communication. You probably don't see it. You probably don't feel it, but it has already happened unconsciously. It is a matter of synchronization. It is like when you have an empty glass on the table and if there is a vibration the glass starts to vibrate even though no one touches it.[22]

  22. Referring to a performance by John Cage that lasted for four minutes and thirty-three seconds, the presence of 4'44" within the Dream temple suggests that Mori's art serves as a site of self-alteration rather than self-expression. This shifts the emphasis of appropriation of Japanese elements away from being nationalistic signifiers[23] toward globally recognisable indicators of sacred space and personal transformation. One should also consider the nostalgia for nation and family commonly expressed by artists living and working abroad. According to the artist, it was precisely her position outside of Japanese society that allowed her to reinvest traditional iconography with contemporary meaning. This was a freedom perhaps not open to those working under the critical gaze of the national art community.[24] Thus, depending on one's perspective, and considering the interdependency of particularism and universalism, Mori's work is open to layers of interpretation.

    Figure 5. Oneness, 2003. Technogel®, acrylic, carbon fibre, aluminium, magnesium, 493 x 1134 x 528 cm. Courtesy of Deitch Projects, New York.

  23. It may have been the technological limitations of Dream temple, or its 'Japanese-ness,' which prompted Mori to revise her initial concept for a portable and experiential space to produce Wave UFO (2003). In this totally immersive and interactive media installation, extraterrestrial motifs replaced religious iconography to affect a broader cultural appeal. Coupled with the circle of aliens in the installation Oneness (2003) (see Figure 5), Wave UFO shifted Mori's symbolism outside the specificities of nation-based cultures and toward a Jungian understanding of a collective unconscious. The tear-drop form of Mori's UFO has a plurality of metaphysical readings as a cosmic map, or mandala, as an apotropaic (protective) circle, an alchemical microcosm, and a modern symbol of order.[25] In addition, Mori's use of interactive media effectively replaces the specificities of her performative body, and the associated readings of gender and nation, with that of the audience.
  24. The alien 'other' in Oneness offers a site where three different, yet interrelated, aspects of identity can be played out. In general terms, Oneness visualises the sense of alienation an individual may experience within contemporary society. A more complex reading considers the alien 'other' within the community as defined by physical appearance, gender, nationality, religion or ethnicity. Kuroda suggests that Asian immigrant artists are different from Asian artists living in their country of origin in that characteristically their work protests against the dominant culture.[26] They tend to visualise their subjective experience of being objectified and give expression to the psychological difficulties of living outside of nation and culture. As outsiders of both resident culture and 'original' culture they feel alienated—in short they suffer from an identity crisis. Although the various notions of alienation are worth considering in the case of Mori, the veracity of this interpretation is dependent on the artist's unequivocal expression of it. Due to the highly subjective nature of this state of alienation, to what degree and over what period of time it affected the artist's creative production is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain.
  25. A more appropriate interpretation would consider Neil Badmington's notion of 'Alien chic,' one which ties in with Mori's use of cyborgs, avatars and idoru. Badmington suggests that post-humanism has positioned humanity in opposition to the alien in an effort to differentiate 'us' from 'them.'[27] Therefore, Mori's use of the alien encourages a realisation of what it is to be human, given humanity's current movement toward a more technologically integrated and socially detached existence. That is, the alien 'other' serves to unify humanity's construct of the human as a species. This notion is also in keeping with Mori's intention of connectedness.
  26. Mori has maintained a transitory presence in her post-body installations through performance. These occasions have been understated in published literature yet they are of great significance. In the ritualised opening of Dream temple, Mori performs as a miko, or Shintō priestess, and seemingly activates and energises the installation as a portable, sacred site. Similarly, in Rei-okuri (2004–2006), Mori's measured performance around her reinterpretation of a Jōmon (c.14000 BCE–400 BCE) stone circle Primal memory (2004), was symbolic of rejuvenation and rebirth. Whether this was an act of rejuvenation for global or personal benefit remains unclear. However, Mori's prescribed role as a mediator, or shaman, connecting the parallel spatial and temporal modes of earthly existence with otherworldly realms was implicit.
  27. Embodiment has actually offered Mori a site and a meta-language with which to communicate more esoteric ideas to her audience. Using controlled expression, mudra (ritual hand gestures) and choreographed movements in the media works Miko no inori and Nirvana, Mori used her body to mediate the ordered and benevolent power of the metaphysical world. In the traditional practices of Japanese Noh theatre, the mask is key in the transformation of the actor into a character. Similarly, the replica Jōmon mask Mori wears in Rei-okuri indicates the transformation of her performative body into a universal communicator. Although animated by ambient light and complemented by the artist's posturing, the abstracted and static nature of her mask offered an anonymity that allowed the audience to freely project their own feelings and beliefs without conflict.
  28. Mori's identity (as determined by nation and gender, ethnicity and belief) as an individual, an artist and a performer has always remained apparent. Mori is a woman, born in Japan, living in a global society, engaged with art, spirituality and science, and who promotes a vision of the future where individuals will be connected to the greater, economic, social and cultural community. Jen Webb, in her essay 'Art in a globalised state,' proposes that,

      [d]espite the formidable effect of globalisation on the lives of everyone, there can be no such thing as a truly global arts culture, and hence no general homogenisation of image or practice, because identity and cultural attachment—which are expressed through art—rely on emotional and traditional resonances.[28]

  29. I would agree that there is no homogenous global culture per se. Globalisation, however, has been responsible for the development, propagation and dissemination of an image-based communications culture that has nurtured local specificities and difference. As an effect of her transnational status, Mori has repeatedly expressed her belief in the efficacy of universal communication and its ability to resonate on an individual level. I would disagree with Webb that to elicit an emotional response one must rely purely on local cultural iconography. To some extent, the human condition, which is not limited by cultural or temporal boundaries, has played a significant role in the widespread and continued efficacy of art. It is evident that Mori is aware of this efficacy and in her use of performance and her growing preference for other-worldly aesthetics has attempted to transgress cultural, linguistic and spiritual boundaries.


    [1] On Shōjo (girls') culture, see: Hiromi Tsuchiya Dollase, 'Early twentieth century Japanese girls' magazine stories: examining shōjo voice in Hanamonogatari (Flower Tales),' in Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 36, no. 4 (2003):724–55; Sarah Frederick, 'Not that innocent: Yoshiya Nobuko's good girls,' in Bad Girls of Japan, ed. Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 65–79; Special Issue on 'The girl, the body and the nation in Japan,' in Asian Studies Review, vol. 32, no. 3, September (2008).

    [2] For an analysis of Britishness in this era, see: Kobena Mercer, 'Welcome to the jungle: identity and diversity in postmodern politics,' in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. J. Rutherford, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990, pp. 43–71.

    [3] Mori Mariko, 'Artist interview: Mariko Mori,' in Bien, March/April (2000):45–48.

    [4] Simon Leung (ISP class 1988–1989) quoted in Howard Singerman, 'A history of the Whitney Independent Study Program—in theory and practice,' in Artforum, vol. 62, no. 6, February (2004):112–17, p. 116.

    [5] My use of the spelling idoru rather than the direct transliteration of the Japanese term aidoru creates an association between Mori's constructed avatars and the holographic pop icon in William Gibson's novel Idoru, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1996.

    [6] Philip Brophy, Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2007.

    [7] Yanagi Miwa, Elevator girls, Kyoto: Seigensha, 2007.

    [8] Angeliki Avgitidou, 'Performances of the self,' in Digital creativity, vol. 14, no. 3 (2003):131–38, p. 133.

    [9] Louis Templado, 'Young women focus upon themselves,' in Japan Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 3, July–September (1996):61–69, p. 61.

    [10] On Morimura, see Vera Mackie, 'Understanding through the body: the masquerades of Morimura Yasumasa and Mishima Yukio,' in Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan, ed. Mark McLelland and Romit Dasgupta, London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 126–44.

    [11] Raiji Kuroda, 'The other side of the other: Asian artists in the West,' in Contemporary Art Symposium: The Potential of Asian Thought, Tokyo: The Japan Foundation ASEAN Cultural Center, 1994, pp. 99–111, p. 106.

    [12] Guang Xing, The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory, New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.

    [13] Louis Frederic, Buddhism, Paris: Flammarion, 1995, p. 49.

    [14] Murakami Kanji in interview with Allison Holland, Tokyo, 26 February 2007.

    [15] Merrily C. Baird, Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design, New York: Rizzoli, 2001, pp. 29–30.

    [16] Mori Mariko, 'Interview,' in Bijutsu Techō, vol. 51, no. 775, September (1999):86–98 p. 89. I would like to express my thanks to Suganuma Katsuhiko for translation.

    [17] Mori Masahiro, The Buddha in the Robot: A Robot Engineer's Thoughts on Science and Religion, Tokyo: Kosei Publishing, 1981. Mori Masahiro proposes that robots have Buddha nature (that is the potential for attaining Buddhahood) and as such deserve respect and compassion in their engagement with humans. In a narrative which is congruent with Mori Masahiro's understanding, in the animated film Ghost in the shell (directed by Oshii Mamoru, Bandai Visual, 1995) the protagonist Major Kusanagi Motoko has a cybernetic body, or 'shell,' fused with remnants of her original biological form. The 'ghost' refers to traces of the protagonist's residual memories and her metaphysical essence.

    [18] Toshiya Ueno, 'Japanimation and techno-orientalism,' in The Uncanny: Experiments In Cyborg Culture, ed. B. Grenville, Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 2003, pp. 223–31.

    [19] Mori Mariko's uncle is Mori Minoru, president and CEO of Mori Building Co. Ltd, Tokyo.

    [20] Mori Mariko, Mariko Mori: Esoteric Cosmos, exhibition catalogue, Ostfildern bei Stuttgart: Cantz, Kunstmuseum Wolfburg, 1998.

    [21] Monty Di Pietro, Mariko Mori at the Gallery Koyanagi, 2001, URL:, site accessed 22 October 2002.

    [22] Germano Celant, 'Eternal present: Germano Celant vs Mariko Mori (interview),' in Mariko Mori: Dream Temple, ed. Germano Celant and Miuccia Prada, Milano: Fondazione Prada, 1999, 2001, unpaginated.

    [23] Gunhild Borggreen, 'Performing nationhood: Mori Mariko and her self-staging projects,' Performance Studies International Conference No.10, Singapore: 15–18 June, 2004.

    [24] Mori Mariko in interview with Allison Holland, New York, 16 November 2005.

    [25] Carl Gustav Jung, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of the Things Seen in the Sky, New York: Routledge, 1959, 2002, pp. 21–25.

    [26] Kuroda, 'The other side of the other: Asian artists in the West,' p. 100.

    [27] Neil Badmington, Alien chic: posthumanism and the other within, London: Routledge, 2004, p. 157.

    [28] Jen Webb, 'Art in a globalised state,' in Art and social change: Contemporary art in Asia and the Pacific, ed. Caroline Turner, Canberra: Pandanus Books, 2005, pp. 30–45, p. 39.


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