Corey Lane Menscher

Infinity Mirrored Room – LEDs Forever

"Infinity Mirrored Room - LEDs Forever" is a re-imagining of Yayoi Kusama's 1966 piece “Infinity Mirrored Room - Love Forever”. It brings it into the 21st-century through the use of RGB LEDs and interactivity to allow viewers to perceive an infinite “virtual” space in a breathtaking way.

Introduction to Physical Computing - Thu (Steiner)

Is it possible that a confined space can also be perceived as infinitely large? If so, does this make the space virtual? In optics, a virtual image is an image in which the outgoing rays from one point on the object never actually intersect at a point on a reflected surface. If you are half a meter in front of a mirror, your image will appear at a distance of half a meter behind the mirror. Our perception of a space that contains facing mirrors becomes infinite thanks to recursive virtual images.

In 1966, artist Yayoi Kusama created “Infinity Mirrored Room - Love Forever”. The piece is a cubic structure approximately five feet tall. The top third of the box contains a small “room” with a viewport to look inside whose sides and floor are mirrored. The ceiling is studded with red, green, yellow, and white lamps arranged in a hexagonal pattern. The lamps are flashed consecutively to produce a sense of movement outward. These lights were reflected in the mirrors below and to the sides, which are perceived as extending infinitely.

I was immediately inspired by this piece when I saw it at the Whitney Museum, and I felt that it could be updated in a way that would remain true to its roots. My slightly scaled-down 24” cube Infinity Mirrored Room uses a Color Kinetics iColor Tile to drive the illuminative element. The tile is a 12x12 array of RGB LED's that can be programmatically controlled via a Macintosh. A Java application displays a series of colorful patterns that are cycled randomly. The sides of the box have capacitive touch sensors that enable the viewer to modify the patterns by touching labelled areas on the outside of the box...the left modifies the current pattern in some way, while the right desaturates the color to Black & White. This provides an immersive way for the viewer to “play” with infinite space.

The target audience is anyone who is interested in exploring an infinite space in a breathtaking way. The idea of experiencing something as conceptually imaginary yet wholly perceptual should spark their curiosity...but anyone who enjoys dynamic chromatic light displays will appreciate the piece.

User Scenario
A user will walk up to the cube, drawn by the light emanating from the small viewport. When the user stoops to look inside, an IR proximity sensor will detect their presence and randomly select a new pattern to display. The user can use her arms to modulate the pattern by reaching forward on the same plane as the infinite space OUTSIDE the box. Thus, the user will be altering the infinite virtual space by motions within "real" space. At the same time, the user's eyes will be reflected back at them from inside the box...providing a sense that they exist in both spaces simultaneously.

The mirrored room is constructed of 24" x 24" masonite boards and plexiglass mirrors mounted internally. One wall and one mirror has a 4" x 11" window cut out. The structure is reinforced by metal wall joints. A 24" Color Kinetics iColor Tile will sit at the bottom of the box, facing up. The tile will be driven via ethernet by a 12" G4 powerbook running a Java application. Capacitive touch sensors connected to an Arduino microcontroller will allow the user to modulate the light patterns by reaching into the same plane as the virtual infinite space.