Review: TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu
By Amy Schatz
Virginia Woolf said every woman is entitled to a room of her own, E.M. Forster once expounded upon the benefits of a room with a view, and Hayahisa Tomiyasu capitalizes on both perspectives in his debut photobook, TTP, which focuses on a ping-pong table outside his university dorm window. Tomiyasu describes his only two encounters with the ethereal white-tailed fox that inspired this work on the laminated back flap of the book: When he first met the fox, Tomiyasu was on his way home. The second and final time, Tomiyasu spotted the fox from his dorm room window, which overlooks an athletic field. One corner of the field contains a single ping-pong table rooted in the sand; Tomiyasu observed the fox wander into view, examine the table, and move on. From that moment, and in vain, Tomiyasu kept watch for the fox. Over time, he developed a habit of watching and photographing traffic at the ping-pong table.
Admittedly, TTP hardly seems like a book of substance, not even aesthetically suited for permanent existence on a coffee table. Cover to cover, the book offers 186 images of the same piece of recreational equipment in the exact same position. Couples and families frequent the table; dogs, sometimes accompanied by their owners, stop by; local fauna alight on the ping-pong table when humans have deserted it; some passersby ignore the net bisecting the table and lounge lazily across it; some children recognize the net and form teams separated by it.
The table is a bed, a launchpad, a performance stage, a gathering space, an innocent bystander. The table rides out the seasons, as do those who interact with it: One man sketches an image onto the snow-dusted table in the winter; on a much brighter, warmer day, children crouch under the table seeking shelter from the sun. After significant flooding, or what might just be the result of poor park planning, the table sits in the middle of a muddy puddle that inundates the rest of the scene.
If TTP advances a common narrative, it is not clear. Aside from seasonal hints, the book provides no internal clock by which to measure change or development. The first image might as well be the 98th, and the following images don’t build on any precedent that the first one might have set. The only image that lends a chronological structure to the collection is the last one, which depicts a Rennaissance-esque composition of an excavation claw suspending the table — whether the machine is lifting, lowering, moving, or destroying the table is unclear — and a man in overalls overseeing the operation.
Nonetheless, and if nothing else, TTP is a voyeuristic delight that satisfies the idle observer.
Tomiyasu captured the images for TTP while he was a university student in Leipzig, Germany. This is his first book.
TTP was published by MACK Books.