For Locked in the ether, Japanese photographer Kenji Shibata freezes flowers in ice, recording the thawing process in real time. As their icy encasements begin to dissolve, the preserved blossoms are exposed to the elements, entering a gradual state of decay.
Inspired by the inevitable passage of time, Shibata set the stage for these small floral deaths by filling an insulated container with over ten gallons of water before handing it over to an ice manufacturing company for a period of a couple weeks. Once frozen, he returns to his studio to empty the icy mass, which he documents continuously until it is entirely dissolved.
Each frame, titled according to the time of its creation, sees the ripened blossoms emerging from their transparent tombs. Though melancholy, Shibata’s images find liberation in the flowers’ impending annihilation, with each petal extending upwards from the ice that entraps them, as if in a gesture of longing and desire.
All images © Kenji Shibata