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The Systems that Shape Us

Aya Okawa | Multiple

Aquaculture, Portugal.

We may stop noticing the infrastructure and systems that most deeply shape our lives. In our daily routines, do we consider the structures in place that put power in our electrical sockets, food in our grocery stores, or salts in our batteries?

When I started flying in small planes I was struck by how tiny our lives looked from above, when moments ago the concerns of the terrestrial life had seemed so all-encompassing. I was shocked by how little I knew about the area that I had lived in for years; I realized that all it took to keep sites out of my view was something as insignificant as a fence, hill, or none of the above. From air, I saw caverns gauged by bulldozers, stretches of electrical lines, sprawling landfills. Obscured from vision on ground, none of this I had noticed.

I became fascinated by capturing images of infrastructure - visually investigating the systems that define the foundations of our societies and economies. In this exploration, I also found a mesmerizing beauty in the patterns, and my goal is to share this sense of curiosity & awe with others.

Aya Okawa is an award-winning photographer and visual anthropologist who enjoys shooting natural transformation, abstract patterns, and the intersection of ecosystems and human-shaped landscapes. 

Through images, Aya tries to capture and share perspectives of the world that we don't see in our everyday lives, exploring the greater connections between us as individuals, communities, elements of nature, and as brief moments within even greater, geological timescales. Her work often comes back to exploring themes of interdependence, systems and cycles.

Aya is passionate about exploring the natural world and protecting ecosystems and wild lands.

Aya Okawa


IG: @labyrinthiansmile

TW: @labyrinthiansmi

Foundation: @AyaOkawa

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