Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mikado Pachinko

We are back from Japan. It is a little hard to come back from having no particular responsibilities, from having someone else fix breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and from being an honored guest--and therefore the center of attention--in the places we went. But home life has its charms as well.

One of the places we visited in Japan was the Pachinko parlor where Seth's work adorns the ceiling and walls. If, like me, you have never been in a Pachinko parlor, this is a revelation. I didn't know that people could be attracted to such a place. The noise level was just above the level of pain, but not to the point that makes your ears bleed. It was a kind of white, metallic noise, almost even, but with little clinks that seem to be from the actual strokes of the keys--or however it is you play the games. No human sounds. At eleven AM it was about a third full of game players, and cigarette smoke was rising throughout the room.

We went in and started taking pictures, and the manager came and spoke to Hisako. The noise was such that with my limited Japanese it would have been impossible to listen closely enough for me to understand him. She told him who we were, and he let us go ahead with our photography. Foreigners are allowed to do some things that Japanese people would be shamed out of. Some of the game players must have worried a bit about being caught on camera. Were they ditching work to come in and gamble?

No one seemed to even notice the artwork on the walls and ceiling. They were intent on the little flashing lights in front of them. But I photographed all of Seth's art, and a few shots of it in context. For the next few days that is what I will be showing.

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