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Mikoto Tanaka


Mikito Tanaka, a Kyoto-based photographer, started his project Try To Go Over There in 2003. The project presents 32 works which are ironic and touching at the same time. They are fueled by visually futuristic and constructivist allusions conceived by the artist, with a lasting impression remaining anchored in humor.

 The psychological discoveries and anticipations of the artist are realized in dangerous situations. Tanaka inserts a human figure, which we later find to be himself, into places where a human being is not allowed or meant to be. A unique proof of his endeavor is captured on 120 mm film.

 Most strikingly, Tanaka performs all the dangerous actions depicted by himself. In one instance he stands in a provocative pose on an iron bridge or on a ferry’s wheel 15 m above the surface, in another he seems to be flying over the monochrome water or hovering in the space of a huge iron lozenge construction. In order to capture the image he envisions, he jumps into the water time and time again, getting drenched in the process, all to realise his vision. Despite this methodical and precise execution, there remains a deliberate touch of amusement and comedy within his work. 

 Tanaka is not just bringing the idea of masculinity to audacious visibility, but most importantly challenging physical and psychological limitations. In a way, the artist breaks social constraints,  whilst also relishing his almost cinematic gambits, which grant him a single glorious moment of total freedom - a flight away from everyday life.

 After taking an analogue photo, Tanaka removes the details, which he considers to be nonessential, and reduces the complexities of nature to their basic underlying geometrical forms in order to highlight the economy of line and aesthetic austerity. By solely maintaining the fundamental aspects and forms of the objects which make up the image, Tanaka is able to give weight and value to a minimalistic approach to landscape architecture. 

 Architecture plays a very important role in his landscapes. Tanaka cynically mirrors the meaning and purpose of technical constructions and objects and their reflection in previous styles of art. He plays with the patterns of essential perceptions of architecture, from a celestial dome in the Bush Barrow Lozenge to modern photography, which has praised the victory of man over nature.

 The subjective experience of passing through Tanaka’s landscapes resonates in the viewer and effectively invites him or her to join in the artist’s romantic-objective reflections on our contemporary relationship to nature and society.

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"Try To Go Over There"  photography project 

"My goal is to convey "analog-only sensations" in a world where everything can be digitized. These include both subjective as well as objective sensations from incidental brushes of beauty, illogical amusements, and unconventional surprises that can only come with analog actions. The sensations are not to be viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, but treated as seeds of something that can be woven into the future.

 The pictures feature exciting locations you would least expect to see a person in. For example, you may find pictures of me standing on beams protruding out of a tall building or water surface - sometimes looking like I'm in the midst of tipping over and falling! These dangerous-looking photographs are not driven by thrills. Instead, they reflect my unadulterated desire to translate imagery into reality. When I first started producing this photo series, portraying myself as the subject wasn't necessarily something that was set in stone. I only needed "someone" who would be capable of manifesting the image in my mind. I ended up becoming the subject of the photos simply because I wanted to be the first to have a taste of the "analog-only sensations" available in that experience!

 That said, when viewers find out that the subject is the photographer himself, they tend to start viewing the pictures as a type of self-portrait. Self-portraits are nothing new in the art scene. Plenty of artists have produced such works of art. There's usually a dynamic message behind the portrait, such as accusing the society of oppression, raising questions about various underdog issues, dismantling the image of a famous painting or person by morphing into the subject being discussed, and other matters of concern. For my pictures, however, they're all about the "analog-only sensations." All I did was enjoy the scenes, sorting my personal experiences with that "view that was all my own" into a little box to take home with me.

 And so, the moment the viewer starts wondering, "What's he seeing from over there?", the personal view seen in that shot becomes unique and I become the only special guy who saw it. With almost everything and anything available on demand these days, it may be baffling for the viewer to be confronted by something they can't possibly see for themselves anymore, but given some time and reflection, this novel sensation is likely to feel somewhat pleasant.

I used 6x7 film for the photography and arranged the settings myself, then asked someone I trusted to press the shutter. Using film also serves as physical proof that I did go to the locations personally. The photographs were touched up digitally to draw out their fullest potential and then printed on paper.


   In the process of converting analog photos into a digital format and then rendering them as analog pictures again, I got to rediscover analog sensations in a world driven by both the analog and digital; sensations that can identify with those evoked by these pictures born from the space between the real and the fantastic. However, in the end the viewer will decide for themselves what sensations they take away from the experience, sharing their enjoyment with me and anyone who happens to be present at the time. And that is the most important part of it all."


Mikito Tanaka




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