The Japanese photographer who shrink-wraps total households — and their houses

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNNYuki Kurihara, CNN

Having a household portrait taken by Haruhiko Kawaguchi comes with one uncommon situation: That he wrap your total home in plastic after which vacuum-seal you into an hermetic bag.

From there, the Tokyo-based photographer has simply seconds to seize the pictures he wants earlier than setting his breathless topics free.
The hanging photos, which Kawaguchi describes as a “memorial picture for the household,” type a part of his ongoing collection “Flesh Love,” an virtually two-decade-long mission to discover human intimacy by shrink-wrapping individuals in plastic.

“Once I began the collection, I requested a few of my closest pals to check how lengthy they may maintain their breath for, and located it was about 15 seconds,” Kawaguchi mentioned by way of video name from Okinawa, Japan. “So, I made a decision to set a ’10-second rule’ whereby I open the bag after 10 seconds, no matter whether or not (I’ve taken the picture) or not.”

Kawaguchi custom-made huge plastic sheets to encase entire homes, including trees and vehicles.

Kawaguchi custom-made big plastic sheets to encase total houses, together with timber and automobiles. Credit score: Photographer Hal

Starting with intimate pictures of lovers trapped inside sealable baggage, which have been as soon as used to retailer futons, his pictures have since grown in scale. The newest set up of his collection, titled “Flesh Love All,” sees the photographer encasing {couples} or households and the locations most necessary to them — often their houses, full with timber, automobiles and motorbikes — in custom-made plastic sheets.

Going by the title Photographer Hal, a reference to the speaking pc in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Kawaguchi mentioned his pictures are primarily about love. And whereas his focus has shifted from the sexual to the familial type, his objective stays the identical: to depict human connection in its many types.

“(The newer pictures) include a message of reference to the surface world and specific love for all the pieces equally,” he mentioned, including: “We pack all the pieces within the background to characterize the social connection that the themes need to the surface world, not simply to themselves.”

It may take two weeks to create the {custom} wraps and arrange a single picture, whereas the ultimate picture shoot requires the assistance of round seven individuals. An assistant is at all times able to open the baggage — or minimize them open, in case of an emergency — if the photographer is unable to take action. He additionally retains a conveyable oxygen tank handy, in addition to a twig to maintain topics cool throughout scorching summer time picture shoots.

For his earlier series, "Flesh Love Returns," Kawaguchi asked couples to be photographed in places that were meaningful to them.

For his earlier collection, “Flesh Love Returns,” Kawaguchi requested {couples} to be photographed in locations that have been significant to them. Credit score: Photographer Hal

Kawaguchi admitted that some individuals “really feel claustrophobic” when taking a look at his pictures. And he’s all too conscious of how suffocating it feels to be enclosed inside one of many hermetic baggage — as a result of he has tried it out himself.

“Once I was within the bag, I felt that my life and demise was utterly managed by others,” he mentioned. “I might truly really feel how my topics entrust their lives to me.”

When two turn out to be one

The collection traces again to when Kawaguchi was a industrial photographer in his 20s. With little free time to supply his personal work, he would take his digital camera to gigs and nightclubs, the place he typically photographed younger {couples}.

“I discovered {couples} to be very engaging as topics as a result of they have been stuffed with pleasure, anger, sorrow and happiness,” he mentioned. “As I noticed them, I additionally felt that there was a relationship between the bodily and emotional distance between two individuals.”

Discovering volunteers amongst his pals (and friends-of-friends), Kawaguchi started “Flesh Love” as a method to “to visualise the intimacy and love” between {couples}, he mentioned. The photographer labored with topics to seek out positions that eradicated the gaps between their lubricated — and typically utterly bare — our bodies, earlier than eradicating air from the bag utilizing a vacuum cleaner.

The photographer said that fitting couples together is "like a puzzle."

The photographer mentioned that becoming {couples} collectively is “like a puzzle.” Credit score: Photographer Hal

“I require my topics to rehearse their poses again and again, after which recreate the chosen ones within the bag,” he mentioned, saying it was like “becoming them collectively like a puzzle.”

Kawaguchi mentioned he was impressed by Plato’s “The Symposium,” by which the thinker mentioned women and men have been as soon as single beings, with 4 arms, 4 legs and two faces, earlier than the Greek god Zeus cut up them in half.

“Wrapping topics in a bag was solely a byproduct,” the photographer mentioned. “The principle function of my artwork is to show two individuals who love one another into one being once more.

“I nonetheless do not know precisely what love is, however I do not suppose it is solely about distance,” he added. “Surprisingly, I typically really feel that the themes do not look very intimate, even when their our bodies are utterly shut to one another. The reverse can be true.”

Whereas his early pictures used a easy studio backdrop, in “Recent Love Returns” Kawaguchi shot {couples} of their houses and different indoor settings. One other collection known as “Zatsuran” in the meantime noticed him shrink-wrapping {couples} with their possessions, from musical devices to bicycles, like “dolls in a blister pack,” he mentioned.

Having now wrapped total homes, he hopes to go larger nonetheless, reminiscent of vacuum-packing a whole park. He additionally hopes to discover “new inventive kinds,” he added.

I am additionally taking pictures a collection known as ‘Washing Machines,'” he mentioned, “by which I put the themes within the washing machines.”

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