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Why you shouldn't snap selfies at 'Infinity Mirrors'

Why you shouldn't snap selfies at 'Infinity Mirrors'
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Thirty seconds. That’s how long you have inside of each awe-inspiring chamber at the Broad’s “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” exhibition. To put that into perspective, by the time you’ve reached the end of this sentence, you’ll have already exhausted a third of that amount of time.

That’s why you shouldn’t take any selfies inside of some of the most photogenic art installations to ever grace L.A.

We know the itch is undeniable: Kusama’s mirror-lined chambers seem crafted specifically for selfies—it’s almost impossible to take a photo of the artwork without showing up in the image—though nearly all of the works on display predate the social media-fueled ritual. If you can hold a smartphone steady, then you can snap an incredibly photogenic portrait no matter where your lens is pointed within the reflective space.

Photograph: Michael Juliano

 

Images like the one above (yes, we realize the hypocrisy of sharing our snaps and insisting you don’t) certainly don’t help dampen that desire. Your Instagram feed is going to be full of “Infinity Mirrors” selfies through January. Whether you’ve scored advance reservations or braved the morning standby line, you want to not-so-humbly show off just how lucky you were to score the most desirable museum ticket in years.

But those 30 seconds inside each installation sail right by. This is most likely the only time in your entire life you’ll be able to step or peer into these particular pieces, and every photo snapped is a few seconds taken away from that time. If you want some flawless photos of each piece, that’s what the gift shop’s exhibition catalog is for.

Moreover, reaching for your phone and observing each piece through a five-inch screen completely kills the sense of immersion and intimacy. There’s a sense of quiet and peace. Each chamber presents a feeling of isolation but not loneliness, perhaps the exact opposite of our hyper-connected but often alienating world.

Look, there’s no right or wrong way to view art, but we’ll say this: The infinity rooms, at their best, are sublime. When the door closes, the walls melt away into infinity, and your reflection fades into a quiet shadow amongst an endless sea of shimmering lights. As you recover from those first few seconds of awe, you begin to take in so many amazing details. In “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” the exhibition’s only permanent piece and still the museum’s most compelling, the lights cluster along the horizon in galactic fashion. The lanterns inside of “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” twinkle so dimly at first that you’ll need all of the darkness you can get (i.e. sans smartphone screen) to appreciate its serene crescendo.

Photograph: Michael Juliano

 

If you still insist on reaching for the shutter button, we will say that the pink polka-dotted “Dots Obsession - Love Transformed Into Dots” is the least immersive installation. But as we look at each one of our own photos, we can’t help but look at each still frame as another second we could’ve spent transported to the otherworldly destinations that Kusama has created.

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