Tanaka’s unique understanding of objects and materials is reflected in the four photographs that document his Process of Blowing Flour. The images depict the gradual blowing away of a plate of flour held by Tanaka. Because his pose is static throughout the images, his presence is deemphasized and instead the viewer’s attention is drawn to the motion of the flour. The subtle contrast between the fixed and the flowing generates a sense of time and ephemerality, suggesting the infinite possibilities of chance to alter our inflexible perceptions.
Walking Through is one of a series of videos—sometimes humorous, often absurd—that record the artist’s performative interactions with objects in a particular site. Here, Tanaka has spread out various objects he collected throughout the city of Guangzhou. By fiddling with a window frame, water buckets, plastic bags, cardboard, soda bottles, and many other things, Tanaka creates fragile, temporary sculptures. Tanaka’s visceral and physical reactions to various circumstances within the video reflect the artist’s own perceptual relationship to that space.
Koki Tanaka is part of a generation of Japanese artists whose work responded to the economic recession and limited opportunities that beset their country in the early 2000s. Instead of creating monuments, these artists focused on everyday life, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary by stimulating moments of perceptual awakening. Their social critique was enacted through the spectacular and unexpected combination of materials, humor, and simple actions. Working primarily with found objects and video, Tanaka’s practice reveals hidden links between object and action.