Bent Light


Excerpt from Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing

“Catherine found a job teaching English in Osaka and I followed her to eke out a living as her assistant, performing menial work like typing up tests and researching classroom topics. For this, the English school paid me a modest stipend. Outside of work, I tried to make sense of my environment. I embarked on long, aimless walks around Osaka, allowing myself to feel as displaced as possible. Knowing little of the Japanese language, I survived on instinct, drifting from moment to moment like a speck of dirt buffeted by the churning bubbles in a glass of Alka Seltzer.

I was fascinated by micro detail, such as the way Osakans stand to the right on escalators while people in Tokyo stand to the left. I asked our Japanese friends about this, but there was no definitive answer. Some said it was a hangover from the feudal era. Tokyo was dominated by samurai, who preferred to draw their swords to the left, while Osaka was home to merchants, who opened their money bags to the right.

I spent hours people watching, trying to solve such elemental mysteries, and at night I experimented with long camera exposures, trying to catch every fibre in the visual overload that was neon-lit Osaka, hoping to bend time as easily as I bent streaks of light through the aperture to bathe Osakans and their city in alien hues.”