Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cosmic Womb With A View: Mariko Mori's 'White Hole'

Video teaser of Mariko Mori's White Hole.

From the absence of light, energy is reborn into the universe, though maybe not this one. So goes the poetic, circular and interdimensional theory of white holes, the astrophysical yang to black holes' yin.

White holes have never been observed and may not even exist (though you can make an Earth-bound approximation in your kitchen sink), but their time-bending, space-expanding conceptual power fueled the imagination of Mariko Mori, giving birth to the star of her survey of recent work at Japan Society Gallery.

Making its North American debut at the Society exhibition, Mori's White Hole is an immersive installation presenting a visual and physical approximation of the white hole phenomenon. A Turrellesque play on space and light, the piece stems from years of thought and is even referenced in a series of meticulous, meditative drawings featured in the exhibition.

According to the exhibition catalog, "Since 2006, Mori's drawings and installations have been inspired by the idea of invisible light as a natural and cosmic energy force that can restore the balance between nature and man." The catalog explains:
In recent years there has been increasing debate concerning white holes—that is, inversions of the space-time phenomena known as black holes—that may suggest solutions to the Einstein field equations. Mori became fascinated by the theoretical existence of white holes as possible reversals of black holes, cosmic entities that, transcending our normal imaginative horizons can swallow up vast quantities of physical matter and even light itself…
Mori envisioned black holes feeding on stars and wondered how that energy would return. "Death is not the end, but a new beginning. It leads to rebirth," she says in the catalog. "I envision white holes as the cosmic womb of the spirits of stars… giving birth to new energies… I hope this work serves as a simulacrum of death and rebirth, promoting us to rethink the multidimensional universe that defies our imagination."

For such a grand vision of the invisible, the resulting work is a sensorial masterpiece. The Daily Beast called it the "pinnacle of the exhibition…completing the circle of life that is a constant theme throughout the show."
Walking through the spiral hallway into the almost pitch black, circular room, the senses become immediately disoriented. A convex lens is fixated on a slanted ceiling emanating a faint amount of soft white light. This light becomes instantaneously hypostasizing as it swirls into different patterns. Looking up at the swirling lights, the body immediately relaxes - everything disappears from consciousness allowing a brief time of personal meditation" 
Time Out thought "it appears for all the world like a UFO ready to beam you aboard, or maybe a moonlit cloud, glowing against a blackened sky. Somehow, it’s no surprise to learn that the artist created the work in collaboration with an astrophysicist."

White Wall called it "the most impressive of all the pieces… It is in this muted and peaceful space that the viewer is able to feel something and transcend."

It is the transcendent genius of Mori's Rebirth that in the same vessel that visitors are carried back several millennia to the cradle of Japan's ancient Jōmon culture, they are catapulted though infinite possibilities of space, time and imagination.

Mariko Mori's White Hole VII (2009). Courtesy of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, Tokyo and Sean Kelly, New York


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