Natumi Hayashi‘s blog featured all kinds of normal photos of herself, her pet cat, friends and Tokyo sights, but on September 16, 2010 she posted a photo entitled “Today’s Levitation”. The rest, as they say, is history…
Hayashi has become an Internet sensation after she began posting photos of herself levitating in all kinds of places around Tokyo. She told the Daily Mail it was an English idiom that inspired her to take the first photo of herself levitating - ‘to have one’s feet firmly planted on the ground’. Apparently they have the exact same phrase in Japan, but since she doesn’t consider herself a practical person she chose not to have her feet firmly on the ground in her self-portrait photos, to show how she really is. “In being free of gravity in the pictures, I am also not bound to societal conventions. I feel as though I am not tied to many things and able to be my true self.” the artist said in an interview. After taking her first levitation photo the frequency of “Today’s Levitation” gradually increased until she started posting a new photo every day.
What makes Natsumi’s photos so popular is her natural expression and pose which has you wondering if she’s actually floating. But the Japanese teen swears she’s no magician, so how does she do it? It’s actually very simple, and yet pretty complicated at the same time. As soon as she finds the perfect spot for her shot, Natsumi sets the self timer on her Canon EOS 5D Mark II, or asks a friend to press the shutter, and just starts jumping. Doesn’t sound very hard, but the young girl sometimes has to jump 300 times to get that one perfect levitation photo.
Asked about the reactions of passers-by, Hayashi admits jumping repeatedly hundreds of time can get people a little edgy. She starts to hear them whispering around her, but almost never lets them hinder her art. ”One day, when I was jumping at a tourists’ site in the western part of Tokyo, cashiers at the nearby souvenior store started to freak out. I heard them whispering, ‘Has she gone mad?’ and ‘Should we call the Police?’ So I stopped jumping, and told them, ‘I am taking jumping photos to make a slide show for my wedding party.’ Then they blushed and told me, ‘Oh sorry!’ ‘Congratulations!’ ‘Good luck jumping!’” Natsumi remembers.
Unfortunately, Natsumi Hayashi has stopped posting photos of herself levitating on her blog, on May 10th this year. She worked part-time as an artist’s assistant for the last two years, learning the secrets of photography, and with the success of her Yowa Yowa Camera Woman Diary I can only hope she has already started her career as a successful photographer and just doesn’t have time to “float” anymore.
Natsumi’s work reminds me of another unusual photo series – 100 Kisses in Paris, where a Taiwanese girl photographer herself stealing kisses from 100 men, while studying in Paris.
Photos by Natsumi Hayashi