Good Lord, my friends – our prayers have been answered! Dan Graham siting.

Dan Graham’s 1975 performance video “Performer/Audience/Mirror” is once again online in its full twenty-three minutes and seven seconds of glory. Watch it now. Especially because these opportunities do have a way of fading. For several years I regularly visited to watch this video, among other neat artist videos. Then one day it disappeared from Ubu. It disappeared from everywhere I could find, and I’m pretty resourceful when it comes to web searches. Tonight again I searched, hoping against hope that I might find it. Tah dum!

Always hope against hope, I guess is the lesson here.

If you’re in school then watch this and learn from it to ignore anybody who makes you feel stupid or uncool for having fun with your work.

I watch this film and see Graham describing himself before the audience, curiously describing his conscious actions as he makes them and also describing his unconscious actions as he notices them. And the dude notices a lot! An automatic raising of one hand becomes an opportunity for disembodied observation. But then he fucks with your head by describing the possible physical pleasure of, say, rubbing his hand on his thigh. I was completely conscious of my body as Graham talks and also of his body. In all the several ways one can be aware of a man’s physical presence. I Touch Myself, indeed.

Then he describes the audience (to himself? to a presumed audience viewing the film? to the audience itself? no telling.) and he notices and comments on the audiences reactions to his verbal detailing of their presence. Talk about the observer/act of observation affecting the observed! In the final five minutes Graham returns to describing himself, this time by looking closely at his reflection in the mirror. (In the first five minute set on his own presence, Graham was looking out over/at the audience and must have been describing from the point of view of an “objective third party” or something.) One amusing moment that spoke directly to the time of his performance (1975) was his assuring the audience that on his shoulders (broad and clothed in a manly navy blue) he detected no “dandruff.” You have no idea how much people worried about dandruff in the seventies.

I am so excited to be able to link to this once again!! When I lectured at UC Riverside and Bari Ziperstein asked me for suggestions of things the students should watch, this Dan Graham video was first on my list – and indeed is always the first thing I recommend to any student of art. And to any student of life.

I found the first image for this post in the Body, Space and Technology Journal of West London’s Brunel University, Volume 05, in an essay by Elena Cologni titled “Fruition: perceptual time gap as location for knowledge – Mnemonic Present Unfolding.” (I must note that this particular image is from the 1977 Amsterdam iteration of Graham’s performance, not the 1975 San Francisco version.)

The three other photos are from Art Torrents page for Graham’s “Performer/Audience/Mirror.”

Enjoy. See you soon!


(post script on july 30, 2012: i recognized recently while listening to myself write that i learned a lot about expressing my observations from this video – thanks dan graham)

A second post script:

Artist Elena Cologni  collaborated with psychologist Dr. Lisa Saksida to produce Rockfluid, in which memory is considered in its solid and fluid states with archival memories considered solid and memories in the process of being retrieved might be fluid. This project has been realized through several exhibitions and urban interventions that engage the public. This project, and other of Cologni’s research and experience based artworks may be available for a US venue. Find more here: Allow me to quote from Cologni’s own website:

“Cologni claims (since her PhD, 2004) that her art research is part ofthe critique to the ocular-centric discourse within western philosophy, with reference to Martin Jay. Yet, the fascination she has for perception and its psychology, and geometry (all linked to the primacy of vision)  is a recurring aspect in her enquiry. Her critical position is manifested  through overturning given assumptions therein by adopting paradoxical formats,including: juxtaposing visual perception with physical positioning in space, drawing’proto-geometric’, non-exact shapes, setting up contradictory research hypotheses. In this context ‘views formabove’ is linked to her current project ROCKFLUID, residency at the Faculty of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, and itis built around a need to make the viewer aware of the space proximal to the body. This in relation to a technology driven life where most of us become increasingly familiar with (and hooked into) the views form above (GPS, Googleearth,NASA satellites). A way to feel in control, by locating ourselves in the world, which Cologni parallels to renaissance perspective systems, whereby the central focus perspective represents  man, butalso God, the eye is God. Telescopes were built applying optics and perception studiesand while telescopes offer a ‘view from below’ outwards in the universe Cologni’s work creates a critical context where the above connections become apparent.”

There is much more here: and here:

Bye now


  1. Hey – to the anonymous person who suggested that “Download the FLV is the great lesson” and gave a false Chicago Art Institute email address and a totally non-existent url: as much as I appreciate your suggestion, be real or don’t comment.

  2. such a good read and great performance from dan graham!

  3. Thanks so much for posting this!
    I have never seen it and really enjoyed it, I specially like how the “nowness” quality of it translates 37 years after it was filmed/performed.

  4. This is wonderful! I watched it one time mesmerized by even my own captivation, and then felt compelled to play it again and simply listen to it while I did other things. Its funny and has such a cadence that is both lulling and insane – such evidence of immediate synapse-firing. I loved when he switched his gaze to the audience.


  1. Re-Launch of Notes on Looking email (yay!) (email newsletter 14 March, 2011) | Notes on Looking - [...] Dan Graham – Performance/Audience/Mirror Same here [...]

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