The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Isaac Asimov (1920- 1992)

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity

Physically tiny, Yayoi's Kusama's Infinity Rooms are proving popular at the National Museum in Washington. Here's a short video from BBC World News (11 March 2017) examining how they came to be.


Now have you ever wondered what infinity might look like? Well the 87 year old Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama has pretty much captured the experience at an exhibition at the Hirshhorn museum in Washington. It's become one of the art events of the year with long queues to glimpse inside her so called infinity rooms. Jane o'Brien went to see what all the fuss is about.

It's easy to get lost in one of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Rooms, even though they're physically quite tiny. Mirrors and lights warp our perceptions of what is real and what is illusion.

"We are living in a time when almost everything that we see and experience is through digital technology, through social media, through - you now - our emailing and so that is so much a part of our lives and our perception that she reminds us that there is this other aspect of - you know - experiencing space that sometimes is more tactile."

To understand how Kusama reached infinity you need to step into her White Room. As a child Kusama had a vision of polka dots. It led to an acute neurosis which she confronted by focusing on dots in her art. Visitors are encouraged to stick them everywhere in this room, eventually obliterating the white and leading to oblivion; which brings us back to infinity.

At first being in this room makes me feel incredibly happy. I'm surrounded by glow-in-the-dark pumpkins for goodness sake. But after a couple of seconds it actually becomes quite disturbing because this is probably the closest any of us will come to seeing what infinity must look like, and once you grasp that, you realise how utterly insignificant you really are.

Most people inside these rooms immediately reach for their cell phones. This is, after all, the ultimate selfie. But not so fast says museum director, Melisa Chie.

"If you are in this Infinity Room and you don't stop and put down your phone you're not truly experiencing her, because it's this moment at which you are alone in the cosmos in one of these pieces and it's a very compelling, kind of poignant experience."

Get past the show-stopping Infinity Rooms and there's plenty more to tickle the senses. Voluptuous sculptures, dots, appendages, dots and more dots. Yayoi Kusama is arguably Japan's most important contemporary artist. This show reveals why her appeal is global. Jane o'Brien, BBC News, Washington.

Quiz Questions

Here's a list of questions compiled for a random quiz. Some are easy, many difficult. Having a quiz provides a reason to watch a video more than once. Students can try and find the answers to questions they have missed the first time around.

No. Questions (Click Boxes for Answers)
1. When was the report aired?
11 March 2017
2. What is the name of the artist the report is about?
Yayoi Kusama
3. Which country is the artist from?
4. How does the artist warp our perception?
By using mirrors and lights
5. What is easy to do in an Infinity Room
Get lost
6. How old is the artist named in the report?
7. Who went see what all the fuss is about?
Jane o'Brien
8. Which museum is displaying the Infinity Rooms?
The Hirshhorn Museum
9. In which city is the Hirshhorn Museum?
10. What is the name of the curator looking after the Infinity Rooms?
Mika Yoshitake
11. What is the name of the room with all the coloured dots?
The White Room
12. What musical instrument do we see in the White Room?
A piano
13. What is strange about the piano in the White room?
It has no black keys.
14. What are visitors encouraged to do?
Stick dots in the White Room
15. What can a visitor take inside an Infinity Room?
The ultimate selfie
16. What vision did the artist have when she was young?
Polka dots
17. What did the artist's vision of dots lead to?
An acute neurosis
18. Spell neurosis.
19. What brings us back to infinity?
20. How does the reporter feel on first entering an Infinity Room?
Incredibly happy
21. How long is it before the reporter feels disturbed inside an Infinite Room?
A couple of seconds
22. What kind of fruit is glowing in the dark?
23. What do most people reach for when entering the Infinity Rooms?
Their cell phones
24. Who is Melissa Chiu?
The director of the Hirshhorn Museum
25. According to the reporter, who says, not so fast?
Melissa Chiu

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getfile: Yayoi Kusama's Infinity

MP4 (Full HD): 166.16MB