Life at 320 Frames Per Second


[A companion piece to Life Between Trains, from our January 2018 issue.]

It takes a little getting used to - the constant rushing forward.

Travelling by Shinkansen, Japan's high-speed rail system, feels at first like a plane taking off; but, you never quite achieve flight, and the acceleration seems endless.

Out the window, anything close is passing to quickly to focus on; so you adjust to a series of glimpses, of passing cities, farms, stations. And, occasionally, a human form - a face, a shape, a silhouette. A flicker of life outside the metal tube.

There's tranquility at speed, a sense of floating through this dream world. Buildings lean towards you as the train banks through a curve, then away from you as it arcs the other way. All you feel is forward motion, like a giant wave propelling you.

From time to time, a train heading the other direction will appear beside you with such force the whole carriage will jump, just slightly, as it races past.

6 seconds later, it's gone - and tranquility is restored.

Further from the city, train tracks become single lines. You can walk right up to the front of the train.

The driver's rituals never change - a gloved hand pointing out the window to each station or landmark as we pass, then over to his clipboard, sliding down the sheet, and across to the exact time of arrival.

He seems satisfied. We're on time.

We rush forward.

Myself & Patrick in Montreal, this summer

Myself & Patrick in Montreal, this summer

On a related note, I can barely believe it's been five years since a group of us got together around the idea of this collective - in fairness, Patrick was the one to put it all in motion.

Much has happened in that time, a few members have come and gone; but the main thing to me is that we've all grown from the process, individually and together.

We feed off each other's work, sometimes in small ways we don't talk about - there are undercurrents, tones, and subtexts that get picked up from each other. I don't think there's been a single issue where I haven't looked at something from within the group, and quietly wished I'd shot that.

So, my many thanks to the Kage Collective members - past, present, and future - for their contributions to my own work, over this too-brief time we've been collaborators, or co-conspirators, here.

It takes a little getting used to. The acceleration seems endless. And, sometimes, a train rushes in the other direction, making us all jump.

We rush forward.


Robert Catto

I'm a Canadian-Kiwi photographer in Sydney Australia, specialising in performing arts, live events, editorial and corporate / commercial work.