2014

Pigment archival print

As for many Japanese expats, the spring of 2011 was a time of worry and detachment. I struggled to comprehend what effect the Fukushima nuclear disaster had had on my homeland. News reports ­ arriving by the day/hour/minute ­ carried ever more alarming scenarios: would wind­blown radioactivity mean that Tokyo would need to be evacuated?

The following year, I made my first trip back. Traveling through familiar neighborhoods, I noticed a subtle change. Convenience stores, restaurants, city lights didn’t sparkle quite as much as they used to. I remembered that I’d read that there’d been a push by the government for everyone to use less electricity and realized this was the effect. I began to think about how I might document this.

For me, one of the most striking examples of this was with the gigantic pachinko parlors that line many of Japan’s busy state roads. While still lit up like Las Vegas well into the night, they were now turning their lights out once they locked their doors. I started exploring the landscape in late nights and early mornings, in search of these darkened lights shows.

I loved this contradiction as it related to photography, a process that ­ by its very nature ­ requires light to create images. What emerged in the pictures were buildings that ­ while intensely familiar to me ­ were now strange and alien. Previously hidden by thousands upon thousands of light bulbs, they now looked as though they’d come from the bottom of the sea, like a sort of Atlantis that had been dropped into these familiar surroundings.

In the end, what I was pursuing was a way to reveal these forms through the absence of light, to make photographs of the darkness itself.

 

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