Buckets & Balls

Some things were made for each other. Some things fill in the blank of another.

Think of a bucket. It is a vessel to hold emptiness. It is technically an item for holding nothing until it is filled.

Think of a ball. It contains emptiness. It captures some air and holds it until it is broken. The function of a ball is to take up and travel through space by containing space.

When you place a ball that is the size of a bucket in a bucket, what happens? You have torn this cycle of emptiness. You have filled in a blank with a blank.

Artist Koki Tanaka taught me this with his piece Buckets & Balls. The 2005 piece sees a yellow ball and a blue bucket arranged in various modes – the bucket is on a ladder, the bucket is in a corner, the bucket is balanced on a piece of wood – that the ball is then tossed toward, working through remarkable circumstances to fill the blank. It is the iPhone game Trick Shot in real life.

The funny thing about this near three minute video is that it teaches the comforts of finding a home. It shows that some things were designed for another thing. “Even the empty things have ways of filling themselves,” the video posits in silence. In a way, it reminds of the visual ASMR of painter Stanley Whitney, an artist whose juxtapositions of color create a comfort in their tension and unlikely associations. Buckets & Balls offers a similar feel.

It’s somewhat funny, too. It’s like watching a sporting event without the sport. There is the tension of the ball making it into the bucket, like you are watching a disassembled pinball game coming together. The video is also the precursor to the equally as pleasant, just as artistically silly Everything Is Everything, the artist’s 2006 toying with objects.

You can watch the video below and, yes, you will want to put a ball in a bucket after watching.

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