Kawaguchiko, from the series Half Awake and Half Asleep in Water by Asako Narahashi

Asako Narahashi

Kawaguchiko, from the series Half Awake and Half Asleep in Water, 2003, Chromogenic print, 90 x 135 cm, © Asako Narahashi; photo courtesy PRISKA PASQUER, Cologne

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A Different Perspective

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Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. (Acts 12:9)

They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind!’ But she insisted that it was so.… [W]hen they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. (vv.15–16)

The story of Peter’s prison escape is one in which initial assumptions are challenged and transformed, not only for the characters in the story (as in the quotations above), but also for the readers. What does it take to make us see the world differently?

This idea of shifting perceptions is captured in the image from Tokyo-based photographer Asako Narahashi (b.1959). It is part of a series entitled Half Awake and Half Asleep in the Water (2001–08). All of the photographs within the series are created by partially submerging the camera lens in water and shooting images of the land or sky from this viewpoint.

Narahashi has described the distancing effect of this approach and the memories it initially evoked for her of swimming in the sea as a child while watching her parents on the beach. There was a desire to return to them, and yet also an awareness that it felt good to be in the water. Following the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, and the resulting nuclear disaster at Fukushima, these images of partial submersion took on a more complex set of meanings as an unsettling reminder of the power of the natural world.

The title of the image Kawaguchiko refers to the lake in which the photograph was taken. It is one of the five lakes at the foot of Mount Fuji, and the peak of the mountain is visible within the frame. In spite of this majestic backdrop, the camera focus is on the water line, creating a sense of distortion and offering a new perspective upon the landscape.

This idea of new perspective is an enduring theme in the Acts of the Apostles, which grapples with the upside-down standards of the Kingdom of God, where the last will be first and the powers of the present age can be overcome (Acts 2:17; 17:1–9). In Acts 12, both Peter’s escape and King Herod’s sudden death bear witness to these unexpected realities.

 

References

Grow, Krystal. 2014. ‘Eerie Photos of Japan’s Coast’, TIME Lightbox https://time.com/3600559/eerie-photos-of-japans-coast/ [accessed 15 May 2020]

Rowe, C. Kavin. 2009. World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 2018. ‘Asako Narahashi’s Photos from the Sea’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMvpUnp1Cnc&vl=en [accessed 13 May 2020]


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