images against walls
James Nakagawa
Mads Nissen
Simon Norfolk

James Nakagawa

Bloomington, Indiana, USA

      

 

Banta 2008

In Okinawa, the precipitous cliffs that fall hundreds of feet to the ocean below are called banta.

For years I have carried with me a vivid memory of the first time I stood atop these cliffs – a memory of beauty in the endless blue expanse of sea and sky intensified by the fearsome height and history that met my downward gaze.

Five years later this memory drove me to revisit and descend those very cliffs. Standing at their feet for the first time I felt in the cliffs’ full visceral weight, something so powerful that I was initially unable to take even a single photograph. The shadows seeping from the cliffs’ surface, the white craters riddling the cliffs’ coral limestone, and the charred black caves were stark reminders of all that these cliffs had witnessed.

I returned to my studio after six months of researching and exploring the South Pacific Theater with thousands of image files of the cliffs to piece together. As I re-shaped and re-experienced the original digital images, these cliffs became a metaphor for Okinawa’s history as well as digitally-manipulated, hyper-real vision of my experience standing between fear and beauty on Okinawa’s banta.

 

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