The Systems That Shape Us by Aya Okawa

Solo Exhibition February 1 - 28, 2022

Art News from United States. Published by All About Photo on Wednesday 09 February 2022.

Industrial Salt Pans image Refinery Networks, 2017 image Building Materials image Housing Development image

Discover the beautiful online Solo Show of the project 'The Systems That Shape Us' by Aya Okawa

We may tune out – or stop noticing – the infrastructure and systems that most deeply shape our lives as individuals and societies. As we go about our daily routines, do we consider the structures in place that put power in our electrical sockets, food in our grocery stores, plastic in our consumables, or salts in our batteries?

As a photographer & visual anthropologist, when I started flying in small planes I was struck by how tiny our all-important lives looked from above, when moments ago the concerns of terrestrial life had seemed so all encompassing. Flying above my own town, I was shocked by how little I actually knew about the area that I had lived in for years – I drove around and explored on foot (or so I thought) – only to realize that all it took to keep a site out of view was something as insignificant as a 6 foot tall fence, a gate, or even nothing at all in many cases. From above, I could see massive caverns gauged into the earth by bulldozers, vast stretches of electrical lines, landfills sprawling across hilltops, and industrial plants belching into water sources. Much of this I had never noticed or given much thought to.

I became fascinated by capturing images of the infrastructure around my community and globally, visually investigating the infrastructure that surrounds us and exploring the human-made systems that define the foundations of our societies, cultures and economies. In this exploration I became mesmerized by both the human-made and natural patterns that emerged, and it is my goal to share this sense of awe and curiosity with others through these photos. This series was made between 2016-2021 in cities throughout the United States, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, & Belgium.