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August 07, 2006

The Travels of Mariko Horo


Being Mariko Horo

The Travels of Mariko Horo by Tamiko Thiel: Sometime between the 12th and the 22nd centuries Mariko HMrM, Mariko the Wanderer, journeys westward from Japan in search of the Buddhist Paradise floating in the Western Seas. She does find Paradise, but finds also a chilling, darker side to the West, an island where lost souls are held in an eternal Limbo. She encapsulates her impressions of the places she visits in a series of 3D virtual worlds and invites you to see the West through her eyes.

The Travels of Mariko is an interactive 3D virtual reality installation. The image is generated in real time on a fast gaming PC and projected on a large 9 x 12 screen to produce an immersive experience. Users move their viewpoint through the virtual environment with a joystick or similar navigational input device. Mariko is a fictitious character Thiel invented to incorporate the viewpoint for the project - users will never actually see Mariko, except perhaps in a mirror. In essence they will be Mariko, seeing the exotic and mysterious Occident through her eyes and experiences.


The virtual environment is sensitive to their presence, changing around them as a result of their movements and actions: An empty church fills with saints who vanish into the heavens. A basilica transports the user directly into the Western Cosmos, where angels sing the praises of the Goddess of Compassion. A pavilion takes users deep into the underwater realm of the Heavenly King. A plain wooden chapel leads into a Limbo of constant torment.

Music for Mariko Horo is embedded in the piece itself, localized to specific places within the 3D world. The composer Ping Jin, Professor of Music at SUNY/New Paltz, studied music both in his native China and in the USA. Ping describes the music as "creating a sonic dimension for Mariko's meditation on the mythic West. Created from both sampled and computer generated sounds, there are fusions and juxtapositions of Eastern and Western sounds to enhance the scene and mood of each section."

World premiere:

July 29 - November 26, 2006 :: "Edge Conditions" show, part of the Pacific Rim Theme of ISEA2006 Symposium/ZeroOne San Jose Festival at the San Jose Museum of Art, USA.

European premiere:

As the 2006 winner of the "Young Art/New Media" prize of the City of Munich, curated by Bettina Wagner-Bergelt and Dr. Stefan Urbaschek, "The Travels of Mariko Horo" will form an interactive 3D stage set for a specially commissioned Butoh dance performance by Shinichi Iova-Koga (www.inkboat.com) and Ishide Takuya during the Dance2006 Festival in Munich.

November 10-12, 2006 :: Dance2006 Festival of Contemporary Dance at i-camp / Neues Theater, Munich, Germany.

See also Mariko Horo's Logbook: This is a "preview" or "trailer" that Thamiko did as a brief narrative commentary on the much larger, non-linear VR installation. It was published in the June edition of the online art journal mark(s).

Posted by jo at August 7, 2006 05:05 PM