Inochi (Japanese for "life" or "spirit") are four human-sized figures with bulbous, alien-like heads over small bodies made of (plastic) flesh and machinery. Murakami directed videos to accompany the Inochi, consisting of a film sequence of an Inochi in school with a schoolboy-like crush on a girl; the Inochi tries to fit in, gets in trouble, and doesn't understand what is happening to its body when it begins to respond to the crush.


Murakami has earned a place in the pop art pantheon for his witty combination of contemporary artistic and advertising motifs in his bright paintings and sculpture, as well as for collaborations with Kanye West and Louis Vuitton. Unlike much of his Superflat work, which is either strikingly two-dimensional or rounded and exagerrated in three dimensional representations of anime physicaly, his Inochi seem grotesquely real, to the extent that alien-robot hybrids can seem "real". This indicates the uncanny nature of the Inochi, who live in that borderline between recognisably human and recognisably nonhuman. Unlike the provocations of The Chapmans and their Zygotic acceleration, biogenetic de-sublimated libidinal model (enlarged x 1000), the Inochi are initially personable, almost cute figures; as stars of a series of videos, they seem to have some psychological depth as outcasts trying to fit in, trying to understand what is happening to their bodies when they fall in love. As such, the piece does not just effect a sensation of uncanniness in the observer, but is a powerful reflection on and metaphor for adolescence.


Created in 2004. The online art link above provides a link to the web site of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where there is a video of the artist discussing and showing Inochi (Exhibition Tour, Part 4).

Primary Source

©Murakami. Catalogue of an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City, April 5-July 13, 2008. Organized by Paul Schimmel (New York: Rizzoli International Publications)2008, p.2