There is no handle on the door that shuts behind you, leaving you standing on a narrow platform surrounded by water inside a mirrored cube, experiencing an infinity of flickering lights… alone… for only 45 seconds.
That room, the most popular of two “Infinity Rooms” by artist Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, presents two nearly impossible viewing challenges. First, the “3 people or less” rule (most opt to go solo) has generated a 4-6 hour line on the sidewalk in sub-freezing temperatures. I have honestly watched the gallery cut off the line at 10AM for fear that the last person wouldn’t make it in by the 6PM closing.
The second challenge is even greater. Visitors are given less than a minute to literally experience “infinity” with an anticipation adrenaline so high that 45 seconds feels like a blink. So though this may be the most Instagrammed exhibition of all time (check out hundreds here), Design Milk was granted permission to spend a little longer to capture the incredible details missed in the rush to take it all in.
Only 75 LED lights generate this flickering galaxy inside Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”. Often overlooked is the surprising beauty and variety of the individual multi-faceted fixtures. I’d estimate most are slightly less than 2 inches in diameter.
The dark water sparkles as it reflects, rippling with the vibrations of your feet on the platform. Tiny bubbles drift slowly across the surface-like planet clusters, barely noticed amongst the stars.
A second and larger room titled “Love Is Calling” contains color-shifting inflatable tentacles in an equally reflective room. It’s scale and lack of water allows 7 visitors at a time to freely move throughout the full space. Though you’re never alone in this one, there’s a special joy in exchanging silent glances of “are you SEEING this?!” with strangers.
I created the animated GIF below. Though the color transitions are gradual in person (fading rather than blinking), they do so rapidly. This is nearly in real time.
The show is closing in a few days and I’m certainly not going to recommend anyone wait 6 hours in a New York winter. However, I wouldn’t worry – it’s only a matter of time before museums around the world add a little infinity to their floor plans.
BONUS: For fans of fashion, check out this month’s W Magazine featuring George Clooney by Yayoi Kusama!!!
All images Courtesy David Zwirner and Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc. Detail images and animated GIF photographed by David Behringer.