During Kokufu’s 2013 exhibition “Cosmosphere” at the Otani Memorial Museum a performance day was set aside for what were usually quietly parked sculptures. On this day, Kokufu climbed on the Tug Tricycle and started to ride it, his legs spinning like a Keirin sprinter but he was moving slower than walking pace toward his Mental Powered car in the lobby. He bumped up against it with the large front tires and pushed the car along easily, apparently without using any extra strength. In this performance I saw another level in Kokufu’s creations so later that day I casually mentioned that I’d like to photograph the Tug Tricycle outdoors someday. I imagined it being ridden up a mountain road by the Kyoto based cyclist, Vincent Flanagan. Unfortunately, we didn’t get back to this idea before he passed away suddenly last year.
Earlier this year, I got a chance to contribute a piece to this exhibition and I immediately wanted to work on this undone idea because it reminds me of his talent of creating and recombining mechanical objects as futuristic, gentle and somewhat quirky machinery that has elements of assemblage, sculpture and kinetic art.
In a makeshift outdoor studio, to give the appearance of effort and mass I lashed a tow rope to the rear tricycle. Later on, just to try it out, I shot a pass-by where Vincent stood up on the pedals. As he neared the camera frame he laughingly said, “This is really hard,” just before he propelled the giant tricycle past the camera frame like he was climbing a steep mountain road. This was the image I chose to show, where the power coming from Vincent himself, there is a joy in riding this human-powered machine.