Though the piece is decidedly abstract, there is a story line, dealing with the life cycle through history, from the tree of life through Noah's ark and onward to Admiral Perry's opening of Japan and to the American Civil War. But to be overly conscious of narrative is to miss some of the intuitive surprise of the expedition.

Things are seldom what they seem to be. Nor are they necessarily congruent with Mr. Wilson's storyboard reproduced in the program. I am still wondering where the promised lion was in the first play; perhaps it was subliminal. Other figures are self-evident: a golden-hued robot, a pterodactyl puppet, a mound of Japanese baskets that becomes self-animating, a child with a Buddha head who closes the evening by reading a book of the tree.

Geometric shapes light forms congregate, as if gathering for a meeting. At times they resemble a Mondrian canvas in motion. Then, suddenly, a rear screen is ablaze with Miro-like swirls. Each theatergoer will have his own impressions of the stage pictures. The eighth Knee Play is summarized as "the boat hull sinks below the sea." In actuality, there is a simulated underwater ballet a restless cinematic sea projected on the screen and sensuous dancers (as fish or waves?) rippling on stage.

Suzushi Hanayagi's choreography is as integral to the piece as Mr. Byrne's music and Mr. Wilson's tapestry of images, and an additional asset is Heinrich Brunke's palette of lighting effects, which finds infinite shadings in the black and white design. Only Mr. Byrne's words (spoken by Matthew Buckingham) remain quizzical, although they seem generally to deal with matters of time and travel. As passengers, we sit back and let our senses luxuriate in a pristine performance-art journey.

The show concluded its scheduled four-performance engagement last night at Alice Tully Hall. It should return. While fascinating Mr. Wilson's admirers, "The Knee Plays" might also expand his audience.