For her series Kaleidoscope, Japanese photographer Kanako Sato (1983) took inspiration from the ocean and its residents – in particular after an encounter with a jellyfish. While underwater in the sea near Tokyo, she looked up and saw an image of the jellyfish and the landscape reflected on the water’s surface. This made her realise how water is able to bend forms and create completely new visual experiences. With this series, she decided to do the same.

The symmetry and repetition seen in Kaleidoscope, achieved by mirroring a fragment of her underwater photos sometimes multiple times, enhances the otherworldly feeling experienced when diving deep underwater. Forming beautiful shapes as a whole, as well as incredible and intricate detail up close, the psychedelic patterns and colours of the images invite you to dive into the picture itself and swim alongside the plants and fish.

Sato explains that these kaleidoscopic images refer also to the Buddhist mandala, a map or pattern that represents the universe. The mandala represents a sacred and complete world that although transient, is always perfectly in balance. By shaping the underwater scenery into a kind of mandala, Sato shows the divinity and beauty of life underwater and pays her respects to the ancient Japanese belief that all is natural, all is divine.