Koki Tanaka | Notes on Looking

Koki Tanaka: Beholding Performer, Performing Beholder / Hammer Biennial first visit, immediate impressions, part one

There are round reflectors in an angular room off the lobby. A beholder is reflected slightly more often than is a performer, I think each time this is true, as the characters change places. The enclosing room and the surrounding lobby are reflected most. Stairs outside (I later learn these to be an installation of artist Fiona Connor, but for now my eyes are fooled) and museum guards and guests are reflected without their knowledge, through one-way mirrored glass. The performer is now a beholder, as the former beholder plays the marimba. I recall now that when the two characters wheeled the instrument into the space in the two-screen film, they turned it several times, like a dog settling down and like a magician doing fancy work to begin orienting your eyes to his world. I catch a glimmer of the older guy’s face, as he plays, and then his hands. I wonder how his beholder, how the younger of the two as he stands, listening, how can he remain so expressionless while listening to music? When he takes up the hammers he is quite animated, intense even, but just now his face is frozen. My legs and bands of color from the lobby show up in several places, trading back and forth as the circles spin. The second performer is now doubled and trebled all across, and then erased from, the darkened gallery. He is replaced in one mirror by a print that states, “Performer,” and this is a nice coincidence of timing. A mirror near to the floor is still now, and the chairs it reflects are...