UFO Landing


Mariko Mori, whose sweetly cyber-spiritual vision never fails to astound, has done it again. Wave UFO has touched down among the bamboo trees in the atrium of the former IBM building (590 Madison Avenue, through July 31). The spacey, opalescent capsule may not be as dazzling as Nirvana, her 3-D state-of-the-art video, or as enmeshed in Japanese tradition as her Dream Temple. But, with its fat futuristic form like a happy teardrop or a cosmic spermatozoon, this spaceship is a crowd pleaser. It appears capable of transporting us into an otherworldly future, sheltering benign medical experiments, or vanishing in a benevolent blink. Every few minutes, it disgorges two or three people from an ocular entrance and swallows others, ushered by white-garbed attendants who proffer booties and attach electrodes.

Once aboard, you settle into a Technogel lounger for a three-minute light show on the dome overhead: a real-time visualization of your own brain-wave activity. It’s a passive-interactive inner-space biofeedback experience. If you emit alpha waves, the hovering globules—representing your left and right lobes—will glow celestial blue. Attain mental harmony with your capsule mates, and you’re treated to another special effect. Everyone gets an encore: three communal minutes of cosmic effervescence from Mori’s own bubbly image bank.

Of course, she didn’t create this piece alone but worked with a team of experts, as befits her message of interconnectivity between self and universe, individual and group. Meanwhile, six adorable aliens on leave from the mother ship, and fashioned from the same gummy Technogel, hold hands in a circle at Deitch Projects (18 Wooster Street, through June 14). Hug one: Its heart pulsates and its eyes light up. Team up with five other earthlings to hug all six, and the base lights up too. It’s a cute trick, in a galaxy far away from Jake and Dinos’s mutant kids. If Mori’s oddly unthreatening, blithely optimistic, touchy-feely, sci-fi spirit seems as shallowly deep as Takashi Murakami’s materialistic art is deeply shallow, never mind. Both navigate a culturally specific universe that values the infantilized and compliant. Cutting to the heart of different clichés, this art is the diametric opposite of our own aggressively infantile national fantasies.