Category Archives: Week 12

Experiencing the Kusama exhibit

dsc_0130By Jing Chen, Shalina Chatlani, and Zhihui Yu


Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit, Infinity Mirrors, is worth all the hype. Featured at the Hirshhorn, the exhibit includes 6 of Kusama’s mirror rooms alongside some of her other iconic artwork. At the same time that her artwork is confusing and chaotic, she constructs the rooms in such a way that is also so unique and beautiful. Each room, with its random shapes, colors, and themes provides the observer with a different sensory experience. For instance, the room with the polka-dotted phallic shape riddled floor is fun and vibrant, while the room with the lanterns is solemn and reflective. dsc_0147

One criticism of the exhibit that we and several of the observers had was that the 30 second time limit in each room made it very difficult to adequately observe and take in the experience of her rooms. Moreover, without background research, the purpose of the rooms themselves get lost in how fantastical they are. The way the exhibit was organized did not offer the visitor as much context as it could have, which means that so much valuable insight into the artwork gets lost. The exhibit generally felt very rushed and overwhelming, but still very interesting and fun. One of the downsides of the exhibit’s popularity is that observers cannot fully experience the artwork. Many do not realize that the artwork itself was a way for Kusama to overcome her psychological issues and that each room targeted a different sentiment.

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There are four ’60s “Net” paintings at the Hirshhorn, but you can also see the motif germinating in a clutch of visionary works on paper that Ms. Kusama made while still in Japan. The “Net” motif was further spurred by the sight of the Pacific Ocean as she flew to America, and her impatience with Abstract Expressionism once she got here.

The mirrored rooms include “Love Forever,” from 1966, which presents a floor of tiny lights whose changing patterns and colors you view through a peephole. The most affecting mirrored rooms are “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” (2009) and “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” (2013), in which tiny colored lights or ones in lantern shapes create the impression of overlooking a sprawling city or drifting in an immense galaxy. The light scattering of paintings, sculptures and works on paper placed in the gaps between the environments offer a tasting menu of Ms. Kusama’s greatness. They seem intended to make the mirrored rooms the ultimate expressions of her vision, her repetitive motifs and her obsession with infinity, which she also likens to obliteration, or a form of death. But this doesn’t quite work. This is partly because the show sanitizes dsc_0148Ms. Kusama; it gives very little sense of her psychological problems or of her genuine wildness, a glossing-over that may be necessary in the capital’s new climate.

“Media aesthetics, then, can focus on how we perceive the world in and through new technologies and new forms of media”

In Jo Applin’s book Infinity Mirror Room — Phalli’s Field, she references Claire Bishop’s analogy comparing Kusama’s use of mirrors to the theory of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan — specifically, his belief that “the literal act of reflection is formative of the ego.” Looking in the mirror, we encounter ourselves as a deceptively discreet unit, a whole person, a simple and complete. We’re toddlers understanding our personhood for the first time all over again. Look at ourselves in an infinite wonderland of mirrors, however, and we’re everywhere and nowhere, multiplied and fragmented.

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Kusama utilized lights and mirrors to express herself in the exhibition. And the museum encouraged social media in the infinity rooms, using the hashtag #InfiniteKusama. And there’s a saying goes that Yayoi Kusama invented the Photo-friendly Art Show for people. “Digital technologies remark our processes of perceiving and thinking”, Snapping a selfie in one of Kusama’s contained wonderlands contributes to the senses of disorientation and proliferation her work hopes to achieve — that dissolution of boundaries that turns viewer into participant into aesthetic element and back again.”

Group Project 

Georges Seurat, Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), 1887–88, oil on canvas, 39¼ x 59 inches. THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK, BEQUEST OF STEPHEN C. CLARK, 1960

Inspired by the ongoing exhibition, Seurat’s Circus Sideshow in metropolitan museum of art, we hope to explore more about the Neo-Impressionist and a Pointillist Georges Seurat and his famous work, The Circus. The nighttime scene in The Circus is a demonstration of Seurat’s pointillism technique, creating an image in oil paint using only dots of color. As a native of Paris, Seurat  portrayed his hometown in views of public entertainments mid-performance. In the late nineteenth century, circus was frequented by avant-garde artists such as Degas, Renoir and Seurat. Circuses at the time were hugely popular in Paris and the flourished by finding ever more extravagant ways to shock and astound their audience. Circus performers often included giants, elephants riding cycles and daring acrobatic acts. The core theme of the circus presented in Seurat’s art is one that continued to exist long after his painting was created. In our project, we want to compare the different depictions of the Paris circus scenes in different artworks. ( Such as between the impressionism  and the naturalism paintings).

References:

Jo Applin, Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field

Jay David Bolter, Maria Engberg, Blair Macintyre, Media studies, Mobile Augmented Reality and Interaction Design

Priscilla Frank, Selfie Obliteration: How Yayoi Kusama Invented The Photo-friendly Art Show.

 

Infinity Lines for Infinity Mirrors- CC//CG

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror exhibition was wonderful and totally worth the wait. The whole exhibition was about experiencing different versions of infinity via infinity rooms.

How this worked: Wait in a long line-> 2-3 people enter room at once-> Each group gets 20 seconds to experience each room.img_1355

From what I could tell, most of the people (including myself at some times) entered the room with their phone camera ready, spending most of their time taking pictures and not fully experiencing the exhibit. Therefore, the rooms were not the only interface in which one could experience the infinity mirrors. Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter also provided interfaces where the exhibit lived.  

These social media platforms would allow guests of the exhibit to share their own photos of the exhibit and provide their own caption. The guest are able to curate their own experience outside of the Hirshhorn. 
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The posts are not limited to the social media platforms they are hosted on- the Hirshhorn’s landing page for the Kusama exhibit utilizes popular instagram and twitter photos taken by exhibit guests.

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https://hirshhorn.si.edu/kusama/

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This was made possible through the use of the hashtag #infiniatekuasama

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/infinitekusama/

Utilizing social media and a hashtag allowed the Hirshhorn to promote the exhibit and guests to share the exhibit in their personalized way.

Group Project:

Rauschenberg & friends

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Way more info on this google doc

 

Contextualized Infinity – Yingxin and Ojas

“Red, green and yellow polka dots can be the circles representing the earth, the sun, or the moon. Their shapes and what they signify do not really matter. I paint polka dots on the bodies of people, and with those polka dots, the people will self-obliterate and return to the nature of the universe.”
—  “Infinity Nets”, Kusama Yayoi Autobiography

Phillip Kennicott’s review of Hirshhorn’s Kusama exhibit in The Washington Post highlights one of the major problems that we’ve been working with this semester. In response to reviews of the exhibit that argue systems theories and cybernetics are central to the work, Kenniccott says, “It’s not that it’s wrong to intellectualize Kusama’s work; but it is very wrong indeed to intellectualize it in a way that annihilates Kusama herself.” How do we solve the problem of creating museum exhibits and media that interface to the meaning systems that gave rise to them? When there are theories of interpretation that tend to privilege the position of the observer over the intention of the artist, how do we create a framework of interpretation that  simultaneously acknowledges the artist’s intention, the power of the observer, and interfaces to the artists with which Kusama is in dialogue? Of course, Hirshhorn’s choice not to put strong emphasis on Kusama’s mental health history is very much that – a choice. The pros and cons of this choice we leave to you, but what we intend to do here is briefly discuss our impression of the exhibit, put the exhibit in a dialogic model with other artists, and how the exhibit contributes to this dialogue.

Dots, in many people’s eyes, are just simple shapes that are everywhere, while the polka dots constitute the key components in Yayoi Kusama’s art work. Although only 20 seconds are allowed in every infinity room, I felt as if I was completely immersed into the world of infinity, especially when in the room Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, which was my favorite, the dim light sparkling and it was just like in the universe and I was one of those little stars. As a grown-up, I felt like having thrown away the stress all of a sudden when looking at those lovely dotted pumpkins and looking back into my childhood.

While watching the documentary Yayoi Kusama: I Adore Myself, I was even more impressed by this genius and lovely avant-garde artist. Suffered from unfortunate early years and long-term mental illness, she always wants to commit suicide, but just as what she said, “I would have committed suicide without art” – art is the only thing she values so much in her life, and she keeps pursing the essence of life and death and represents the eternal theme in her art work. She adores herself and her art work more than anything else in the world, while she’s conscious about the philosophy of life and death within her world of polka dots; she’s genius and most importantly, persistent in her art creation – she completed a series of 50 creative paintings in 2008. (Documentary, I Adore Myself)

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Rauschenberg, Robert. Reservoir.

Jo Applin poses Kusama’s Happenings work in dialogue with Robert Rauschenberg’s collage pieces (and of course, Allan Kaplow credited with coining the term Happenings for performance pieces). In the same way Rasuchenberg blurs the line between art and life by including everyday objects in his art, Kusama blurred the line by bringing her art into the streets and rooftops of New York City (Applin 16). Kusama’s work takes this further in re-imagined everyday objects, specifically in the form of Boat, a boat made of phallic pillows, and Obliteration Room, an all white room with all white furniture on which observers, or more appropriately participants, put stickers. And of course, an evocation of line blurring can’t do without at least a small nod to the Surrealists. Early 20th century European avant garde is a strong foundation on which a dialogic model for the Postmodern works of mid-late 20th century art can be built.

Kusama, Yayoi. Compulsion Furniture (Accumulation).

Kusama, Yayoi. Compulsion Furniture (Accumulation).

The exhibit, by centering and emphasizing Kusama’s Infinity Rooms, highlights the net and polka-dot patterns that inspired much of Kusama’s early work, which she admits was inspired by hallucinations and obsessive compulsions. Just the sheer number of phallic pillows and knowing that she individually sewed each piece, or closely looking at the net patterns of her paintings certainly supports this understanding. While the paintings and sculptures clue us in as observers, the Infinity Rooms inform us as participants by placing us as subject in the center of the piece. We are then free to meander our infinite reproductions, the many iterations of us in a room fool of hanging lights, glowing pumpkins, or blow-up polka dot balls. While each design choice emphasizes a specific aesthetic, the design of the infinity room extends that aesthetic into infinity and places us at the center of this infinity, ourselves becoming infinite.

In thinking about how the exhibit could interface to the meaning systems that give rise to it – in many ways it already does. In a digitally augmented social world, a name of an artist or a name of a piece is what we need to start researching. Besides the background readings for class, searching through search engine results and library resources using the artist’s name as a keyword is a great way to dive further into the artists’ work and discover how to place her art. The way the exhibit could do that better is through an augmented reality digital interface that people can access on their phones while they’re in the exhibit. They could develop an app like the AR trail guide for the Sweetwater State Park (Bolter 36). In such a digital interface, pointing the phone camera at a piece could generate pop up hyperlinks and supplementary information that a user can navigate for more context. Or, if someone is in a rush and can’t wait in line, they could point it at the Infinity Rooms and the walls would become see through and they can see a digital representation of the piece. Such an interface would make the exhibit more interactive (as interactive as it already is – I mean, you literally see yourself in it!), and could overcome the information gap that led to readings of the exhibit that Kennicott (And we) took issue with.

Poster Project

For our group project, we’ll be focusing on the Phillip’s Collection exhibit of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Specifically, we’ll be addressing how showing different versions of a single piece in different stages of production interfaces to the lithographic production process. We hope to extend this to talk about Toulouse-Lautrec’s pivotal role in elevating the artistic status of print-making and posters. On our poster, our design idea is to first show Jane Avril in the different stages of production as was

Jane Avril

Jane Avril

displayed in the museum as our primary image. Our secondary image will be a lithograph slate with a half-finished print on it and next to it will be a stack of prints. We will supplement these images with text that specifically treat the exhibit as an interface and highlights Toulouse-Lautrec as a key figure in the history of print-making and posters.

 

References

  1. Applin, Jo. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field. London; Cambridge, MA: Afterall Books, 2012.
  2. Bolter, David Jay, Maria Engberg, and Blair MacIntyre. “Media Studies, Mobile Augmented Reality, and Interaction Design.” Interactions 20, no. 1 (January 2013): 36–45.
  3. Documentary Yayoi Kusama: I Adore Myself
  4. Kennicott, Phillip. “An exhibition of the beloved Kusama with everything but Kusama herself.” The Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2017.
  5. Yayoi Kusama’s Exhibition website: http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp/e/happening/index.html

Selfies As Performance Art…

Ai-Ling Wu, Lin Ding, MC Gayoso…

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The Yayoi Kusama Selfie Chamber

In 2015, the LA Magazine said the following about Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room”: “two things are certain: long lines and lots of selfies”. This is exactly what we saw when we went to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden last week. I remember that when I was about to go into one of the rooms, the lady at the museum told me to “enjoy your show” and “you can take as many pictures as you want in the room”. When I was in the lines, I saw people sharing selfies they had taken in the rooms with their friends or families. It seems that everyone who went to the show has selfies in their digital devices. However, because of the time limit, a lot of people failed to get an ideal photo within 20 seconds and I saw several people waiting in line multiple times to have another try. Or maybe they just wanted to experience the show for another time. Kusama probably did not think that her mirrored rooms would be “the selfie-happy installation” (Frank).

Kusama’s exhibition invites viewers as participants to enter an immersive environment, where they will have the opportunity to experience Kusama’s unique perspective. Taking pictures, for example, selfies, can be seen as a way of participating and self-performing in the exhibition. But selfies are never entirely about selves, they are performances showing different tastes, lifestyles, and wishes on social media platforms targeting nodes in their social networks. People wish to share their sense of humor, interesting adventures, and beauty within these social networks. For those who witness the performance, their decision of going to the same art event and taking selfies during the exhibition is likely to be influenced by other’s self-performance. One evidence for this argument is the popularity of articles teaching people to pre-setup the cameras before entering the room and finding the best angle for selfies. This idea is similar with Kusama’s artistic aims. In the 1960s, Kusama once told an interviewer that “We become part of the unity of our environments” (Frank). We too, become part of the environment when we are standing at the same spot and taking selfies from the same angle.

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Selfie of Katy Perry

Adele has extended the room to a new performance experience, combining one of her songs with the subsequent music video recorded in the room on the stage at the Brit Awards. She explained that the idea of seeing different angles of oneself in the mirrored room falls into line with her song “When We Were Young”, and she likes seeing things in herself and noticing things she has never seen before.

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For the performance of “When We Were Young” at the Brit Awards, Adele sang in front of an elaborate set of panels displaying twinkling footage shot in Yayoi Kusama’s highly photographed Infinity Mirrored Room

The fact that both celebrities and everyday people take selfies in these exhibits reinforces the fact that they can inspire anyone. Walking into these rooms encourages you to open your mind and just experience the moment. But they also encourage you to capture the moment. As stated before, selfies abound in Kusama’s mirrored rooms. Figuring out how to parcel your time in these rooms can be a challenge? Do you just walk in and snap as many photos as you can? Do you record your experience in the rooms? Do you refrain from photos all together? This thought process is now part of the Kusama experience, one that I think is pretty unique. Instead of scorning selfies as part of some self-obsessed culture, these exhibits encourage selfies as part of the performance. Everything you do in a Kusama room is part of the performance because you cannot escape yourself. Your reflection is infinite.kusama-selfie

(Left: Here, the selfie is not the main focus of the picture, but it is still an important part! You cannot see MC at all, but you can see her phone there, in the center of it all. How different is this installation without the image of the phone in the middle? The phone becomes part of the art, itself…)

Kusama is engaged in a never-ending mission to release the microcosms within herself to the outside, in order to project it on the macrocosms and the infinite space to which our imaginations do not extend. By facing up to this endless mission, Kusama herself is also elevated to the status of eternal being, who is a speck of dust in the universe. She has a bird’s-eye view of the entire universe. It is her infinite consciousness that transcends the time, generation, gender, region and culture, as well as the various vocabularies of contemporary art. It is also the reason Yayoi Kusama is so well-received around the world — and the reason why the force driving her is like an eternally bubbling spring.

Yayoi Kusama Herself is an Artform

Kusama is an Japanese artist that can be attributed to many different terms from the 1950s to 1960s, including “pop art”, “minimalism”, “conceptualism” and “abstract impressionism”. Through her exhibition “Infinity Mirrors” in the Hirshhorn Museum, I not only understood her works as a fixture of these various artistic style, but also felt the strong emotions and ideas about love and fear, life and death from Kusama. Kusama’s art world is so unique that it makes me recognize her paintings, sculpture, videos, and infinity rooms as different extensions of her body and minds. In a word, Kusama herself is an art. In her own words, “My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. (Kennicott, 2017).

Kusama applied different artistic medium to create conversations with the audience. Curator presented many Kusama’s photos, videos, personal items to the audience which made a strong connection between the artist and her artworks. This representation is totally different from the Toulouse Lautrec Collection we have visited before which focused more on the artworks themselves rather than the image and description of the artist. The design of Kusama’s exhibition enhanced the sense of immersion.

For example, the “Violet Obsession”—sewn and stuffed fabric over row boat and oars which is surrounded by violet light and repetitive picture of the artwork on the walls, floor and ceiling, referring to Kusama’s wry commentary on the phallus as a symbol of virility and power. I was impressed by the work’s occupation or possession and felt that Kusama transcend her fear through art. Highlighting the identity of Kusama allowed the audience associate the artwork with artist’s life experience in a easier way. Besides, objects on the boat “seem to have been overtaken by a horde of alien creatures. They announce their independence from human use while exuding a visual and tactile magnetism” (Smith, 2017). In my opinion, I found the work resonates with some ideas from pop art that “the pop artists strove for ‘objectivity’ embodied by an imagery of objects. The impact of Pop Art was enhanced by the mundane character of the objects selected” (Laurie, 2011). Phallus and boat, these two objects seemed to have no connection with each other. However, Kusama combined them together like the pop artists did in collages. She endowed the objects with new and deep meaning which represented her spiritual world.

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Yayoi Kusama, Violet Obsession (Photo by Ai-Ling Wu)

Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field showed the dialogues between Kusama and the audience. Kusama later recalled how she had imagined people “wandering into this infinite wonderland, where a grandiose aggregation of human sexual symbols had been transformed into a humorous, polka-dotted field” (Applin, 2012). I was impressed by her magic of mise en abyme and repetition which allowed me feel this sense of humor in a more immersive way. Kusama’s soft sculpture and infinity mirror rooms also reminded me of the quotes from the Minimalist artist Robert Morris “Every external relationship, whether it be set up by a structural division, a rich surface, or what have you, reduces the public, external quality of die object and tends to eliminate the viewer to the degree that these details pull him or her into an intimate relationship with the work and out of the space in which the object exists” (Terry, 2011). However, the technology seemed to become noise between the conversation between the audience and Kusama. During the period of “20-second infinity”, nearly 15 seconds were spent on taking photos by me. In fact, I devoted more time on watching two-dimensional picture rather than the three-dimensional installation. The conflict between the technology and art facilitated me to think that is it more appealing for the audience to share pictures of art with other people through screens than to feel the art with their soul through five senses in modern days? How technology affect the interface between the audience and art has become a critical question for curators and artists.

Discussion of Group Project

Our group project will compare Japanese pop art with anime and manga art. This comparison does not imply one is better or worse than the other, just that there is a difference. Different forms of art have varying levels of cultural capital. What makes something fine art? What makes something commercial art? We argue that it is the reception community that defines what art is. It is not so much the art itself, but who is consuming it. Anime fans and pop art collectors will both pay handsomely for different types of art. We will explore how these fans and collectors assign meaning to different works.

Currently, we are in the process of collecting links, references, and visual images for our project. We want to have around 6 image, 3 related to pop art and 3 to anime and manga art. We will display these images in a way that prompts the audience to answer the question, can you tell which genre each of these paintings belongs to? Pop art or anime/manga art? What even is pop art and anime/manga art? We will explain these terms to the audience and guide them through the process of looking at the communities that consume this art rather than at the art itself. Our conclusion will most likely be, art is whatever the art world says it is. Anime and manga does not need to aspire to be like Japanese pop art or prove itself. These two art genres have their own merit and make their own meaning. The issue of price, however, and which genre generates more revenue, is another issue… but it is almost impossible to compare these two genres since they are so different. Still, we are going to try!

(Note the similarity in pose and aesthetic here, but one is pop art and the other is a commercial anime figurine)

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(Left: Chiho Aoshima- Pop Artist/ Installation View / musee art contemporain lyon, 2006 “Rinko-chan on the building” 2005, Right: Holo Figure from the anime Spice and Wolf)

Citations:

Chiland, Elijah. “Watch Adele Perform Inside LA’s Most Instagrammable Room”. 2016. Retrieved from http://la.curbed.com/2016/3/1/11144922/adele-broad-museum-infinity-room-brit-awards.

Frank, Priscilla. “Selfie Obliteration: How Yayoi Kusama Invented The Photo-Friendly Art Show”. The Huffington Post. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/yayoi-kusama-selfies_us_562687ede4b08589ef493823.

Celebrity photos from Instagram

Chiho Aoshima pictures from Pintrest

Interview of Adele’s choice of infinity mirrored room: Adele on Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad museum

Jo Applin, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field. London; Cambridge, MA: Afterall Books, 2012.

“Kaikai Kiki Gallery” http://en.gallery-kaikaikiki.com/2010/07/works_chiho_aoshima/

Laurie Schneider Adams, A History of Western Art. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

Philip Kennicott, An exhibition of the beloved Kusama with everything but Kusama herself, The Washington Post, 2017

Roberta Smith, Into the Land of Polka Dots and Mirrors, With Yayoi Kusama, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/arts/design/yayoi-kusama-infinity-mirrors.html?_r=0

Terry Smith,  Contemporary Art: World Currents. New York, NY: Prentice Hall, 2011.

 

 

Experiencing Infinity

By: Jordan Levy, Wanyu Zhang, & Yinying Chen


“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.”

– Yayoi Kusama

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Professor Irvine Experiencing Infinity by Wanyu Zhang

The Self-Obliteration of Kusama

When Yayoi Kusama was a child, she was physically abused by her mother. Around that time, a new world opened up for Kusama: a world of visions and hallucinations. In 1939, at the age of 10, Yayoi Kusama created the drawing UntitledThis piece depicts an image of her mother’s

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Untitled, by Yayoi Kusama (1939, age 10)

face covered in different colored polka dots. The polka dots are not only representations of what Kusama saw, but they also symbolize the sun, the moon, the earth, the universe as a whole, and the infinity of this universe. At such a young age, it was the start of Kusama’s representation of what she saw in her ‘alternate reality’ (a state of being brought to fruition due to her battle with mental illness) and was the beginning of what would compose the rest of her life. With a life-long exploration of herself affected by her disease, Kusama’s work signifies her ongoing obsession with polka dots and various visual representations of how she represents her own self-obliteration.

Interface for Multilogue

Kusama’s infinity mirror rooms are very avant-garde and impressive in the way that they transform “[Kusama’s] interior world into a shared and public one,” as (Applin, 2012). In other words, the installations not only serve as a form of self-therapy for Kusama as she visually represents and copes with the mental illness and hallucinatory visions plaguing her, but they also offer an open interface for dynamic multilogue. The rooms are colorful, playful, and fascinating for museum guests. As such, the museum and each infinity room have extensive lines. However, when entering the tiny rooms with friends or complete strangers, there is no script regarding how to engage with the dazzling and immersive space (Applin, 2012). Therefore, the immersive experience that is each infinity room releases semiotic agents from the imposed meanings of the works, enabling each room to engage in a dialogic form of meaning-making for both Kusama and museum guests. Every viewer’s experience with the spaces is unique. Hence, as Irvine illustrates, for every viewer, the experiences in the rooms “become new nodal positions for interpretive routes in the encyclopedic network” (2014).

Diverse Interfaces

One of the most interesting aspects of the Infinity Mirrors exhibition is that it is an exhibition composed of Kusama’s works presented on a variety of mediums, including paper, soft fabric sculptures, mirrors, canvas, rowboats, photos, etc. Psychedelic colors, polka dots, and repetitive patterns remain central to Kusama’s signature style, serving to interrogate and celebrate life and its aftermath (Hirshhorn, 2017). However, as those central themes transcend from one experience to the next, the relationship between the artworks and the viewers is reshaped, and a whole new angle for interpreting her signature style is revealed.

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14th Street Happening by Yayoi Kusama (1966)

For instance, the photographs of her public performance 14th Street Happening in 1966 encapsulate and bring alive the powerful scenes of her lying in the “phallic field” on the sidewalk of New York City for her passive viewers. In this sense, the photograph acts as a historian that re-tells the story for us and generations to come. On the other hand, the infinity mirrors rooms are situated in ‘this very moment’ for the viewers to participate, experience, interpret and question. The immersive rooms transform their audiences into active participants of the dialogue embodied by Kusama’s works, or as it is illustrated in description of Infinity Mirrored Room- Love Forever on Hirshhorn Museum’s website, “the installation blurs the lines between artistic disciplines and is activated by audience participation”  (Hirshhorn, 2017).

Group Project

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Sweep it Under the Carpet by Banksy

What was once an environment for only artists of classical training, the ‘Art World’ is always reinventing the definition of ‘fine art,’ morphing to account for recent cultural tastes and desires.  Once regarded as mere ‘illegal graffiti,’ the work of street artists such as the elusive Banksy has officially entered the world of fine art, blurring the distinction between the two as separate entities. As such, the works of Banksy and his peers, including Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, are now fetching top dollar at auctions once reserved for ‘serious,’ fine art. The meshing of “high and low art” is granting street artists multiple channels of reception, including by the masses, considering the outdoor spray-painted locations of many pieces, in addition to in more serious occasions, such as Sotheby’s Auction House and several notable museums. All in all, the blurring line between street art and fine art is paving the way for artists of similar ‘street beginings’ to have their works accepted by society and viewed seriously, despite their often illegal mediums and illicit outdoor locations (Pantovich, 2013).

 

References

Applin, J., ebrary, I., & ProQuest (Firm). (2012). Yayoi kusama: Infinity mirror room– phalli’s field. London: Afterall Books.

Infinity Mirror Rooms. (2017). Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://hirshhorn.si.edu/kusama/infinity-rooms/

Infinity Mirrored Room—Love Forever. (2017). Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://hirshhorn.si.edu/kusama/infinity-rooms/#love-forever

Irvine, M. (2014). Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A Model for Generative Combinatoriality. In In The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (pp. 15-24). New York: Rutledge.

Pantovich, M. (2013, January 9). The Most Expensive Street Art | From Basquiat to Banksy. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://www.justluxe.com/lifestyle/arts/feature-1876077.php

Patel, N. (2011, October 24). The Self-Obliteration Of Yayoi Kusama. Retrieved April 06, 2017, from https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/the-self-obliteration-of-yayoi-kusama/