Exhibition Review: Mariko Mori: Rebirth, Royal Academy of Arts, London, until February 17 2013
Mariko Mori’s Rebirth is the kind of exhibition you want to tell your friends about. After all, where else would you find a five-metre tall glass monolith that beams the light patterns of cosmic rays as they are picked up by a computer in an observatory in Japan?
Tom Na H-iu II may sound zany, but it’s an incredibly sophisticated concept. Connected in real time to a research lab in Tokyo, it monitors the presence of neutrinos emitted by the sun, the earth’s atmosphere and super nova explosions in outer space.
This is an impressive technological feat. And with Mori citing Buddhist spirituality and prehistoric Jomon culture as influences, it’s clear there’s more at play than just clever science.
Named after a Celtic portal said to guide souls back to earth for rebirth, Mori connects the dots between competing ideas of science and spirituality - a theme that is consistent throughout the exhibition.
© Mariko Mori Studio. Photo: Richard Learoyd
Other highlights include Transcircle, where nine acrylic "totems" representing the solar system change colour according to planetary movements in space, and White Hole, which leads you into the dark, cavernous reach of the gallery to watch as Mori’s imaginings of life beyond the death of a star swirl across the ceiling.
There’s also a chance to see the first of Mori’s six site-specific installations, Primal Rhythm - shown here on film in Okinawa Bay, which reacts to the changing light of the winter solstice and transforms from red to blue and five other colours in between as the earth moves through the lunar cycle.
Gazing at energy patterns in space and tracing the movements of the solar system may not seem like the typical agenda for an afternoon pottering around the Royal Academy. But as Mori explains, her work is designed to "visualise the world you don’t see".
As a result, this is an exhibition which prompts a thought-provoking, goose-bump inducing consideration of life, the universe and just about everything in between.
Come to think of it, Rebirth is the kind of exhibition you want to discuss with just about anyone who’ll listen.
- Open 10am-6pm (10pm Friday). Tickets £6-£10 (free for under-12s). Book online. Follow the Academy on Twitter @RoyalAcademy.
Follow Ruth Hazard on Twitter @RuthHazard.
© Mariko Mori Studio Inc. © Mariko Mori Photo: Richard Learoyd
© Mariko Mori Studio. Photo: Ole Hein Pedersen