If you type in “blanClass” into Google Maps, it takes you to this seemingly nondescript location. It is in a residential neighbourhood in Yokohama off a main road lined with a McDonald’s, a Daiso and a car dealership. With the Japanese winter still persistent, I arrived at Idogaya station on a wet gloomy 15th of February. I made my way towards blanClass to attend Heights Takayama, part of TPAM Fringe.
Heights Takayama was entirely in Japanese, with some English synopsis to accompany the performance. I was the only non-Japanese speaker in the room, and I felt quite embarrassed. The host/performer, Reiko Takayama, knew little English too but was sweet and earnest in her attempts to include me.
From what I gather, Reiko has been running the blanClass studio for many years. Heights Takayama features a light projection that spins very slowly on its axis, making a complete rotation every forty minutes. The light hits at certain spots in the room, to literally highlight a hanging translucent photo over where the photo was taken. It is a neat display of simulacra, the image preceding the real, like so:
Heights Takayama‘s primary focus is on the relationship between art and seeing. At one point, Reiko had various audience members sit at various positions, facing the window. From our different vantage points, we said what we could see (me: “blue house”). I assume other members said trees, or trains in Japanese, while someone drew the things we were describing. This whole exchange was recorded (without me knowing, perhaps it was mentioned in Japanese), and later played on screen.
Then, Reiko drew outlines of us, from the recording, on a large vanguard sheet. She later hung up this sheet:
The entire process felt very