According to many researchers, among which one can find Elen Dissanayake, defining art is quite a disputable question. Since the late eighteenth century, the aesthetics has been regarded as a distinctive experience of the artifacts, which are to be considered pieces of art. Therefore, it is sufficient to emphasize several features, which would differentiate Yayoi Kusama’s “Fireflies on the Water” from a police interrogation room as a type of artifact made for displaying, and is associated with subject of art. Among such features, one can find that the subjects of art are done to give an observer a fantasy, fulfill the wishes that were denied in real life. According to this criterion, “Fireflies on the Water” can definitely be regarded as art, since the idea of it is to place the observers into an intimate and small space, which seems to be open up to infinity. The feeling is quite amazing and cannot be regarded as usual in our everyday life. Although in both rooms a person stays alone and enjoys the solitude after the door is shut (until the interrogator enters, when dealing with the interrogation room), the police interrogation room has nothing to deal with wishes or dreams of people. The room with dull walls and no decorations does not dispose a person to dream or feel calm or elevated. To some extend both compositions manipulate the audience’s feelings, but the interrogation room can only provoke the reflections about life or deeds, not those, which consider the atmosphere around.
The personal touch is another criterion of being a subject of art. As it is known, the subjects of art are aimed to be compelling. There is not much compelling about the grey walls, which are neither unique, nor picturesque. Speaking about the “Fireflies on the Water” the illumination is the main thing, which makes the project stand out. The walls with mirrors and small white lights, which are suspended from the ceiling and a reflection pool, make it deliberately non-ordinary. Stylization of the above - mentioned piece of art also adds much to its non-ordinary aspect.
The subjects of art, among which in this work the installation “Fireflies on the Water” is emphasized, are bracketed from the ordinary life. This room is placed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York while the interrogation room, to which it is compared, can be found in many police departments of any city, which have nothing to deal with museums. It is obvious that the interrogation room is not set off from the real life, but is a part of it, it is used for common purposes in contrast to “Fireflies on the Water”, which is visited only by those, who are at least a little interested in modern American art.
“Fireflies on the Water” can be labeled as an extra-ordinary room, as it creates the atmosphere of something unreal or even magical. The exceptional design of the room created by Yayoi Kusama makes it look special in comparison to not only the interrogation room and some other normal and usual rooms, but also comparing it with the other subjects of art.
Both rooms, which are discussed above are socially important, but the interrogation room is not connected with human’s culture, though it is important for the society. The aesthetic of the installation by Yayoi Kusama “Fireflies on the Water” makes it culturally and evolutionarily important as a new step in art comprehension and development. Moreover, meeting such art criteria as fulfilling the wishes, manipulating the feelings, having a personal touch of the artist, being bracketed from the ordinary life and being special, differentiates it much from the interrogation room, which is a part of everyday life and do not meet the above mentioned criteria of being a subject of art.
Consequently, the only characteristic, which is common for these two subjects is that both are rooms having the walls, the floor and the ceiling, but the design of them and the feelings of the audience inside it show the huge difference between them, which makes only Yayoi Kusama’s “Fireflies on the Water” be regarded as a piece of art.