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

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNNYuki Kurihara, CNN

in article 1

Having a household portrait taken by Haruhiko Kawaguchi comes with one uncommon situation: That he wrap your whole 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 photograph 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 folks in plastic.

“After I began the collection, I requested a few of my closest buddies 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 photograph) or not.”

Kawaguchi custom-made enormous plastic sheets to encase whole houses, together with bushes and autos. Credit score: Photographer Hal

Starting with intimate pictures of lovers trapped inside sealable baggage, which had 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 — normally their houses, full with bushes, automobiles and motorbikes — in custom-made plastic sheets.

Going by the identify Photographer Hal, a reference to the speaking laptop 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 variety, his aim stays the identical: to depict human connection in its many varieties.

“(The newer pictures) comprise a message of reference to the skin world and specific love for every part equally,” he mentioned, including: “We pack every part within the background to signify the social connection that the topics must the skin world, not simply to themselves.”

It might probably take two weeks to create the {custom} wraps and arrange a single picture, whereas the ultimate photograph shoot requires the assistance of round seven folks. An assistant is at all times able to open the luggage — or reduce them open, in case of an emergency — if the photographer is unable to take action. He additionally retains a transportable oxygen tank handy, in addition to a twig to maintain topics cool throughout sizzling summer season photograph shoots.

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

Kawaguchi admitted that some folks “really feel claustrophobic” when 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.

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

When two develop into one

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

“I discovered {couples} to be very enticing as topics as a result of they had 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 folks.”

Discovering volunteers amongst his buddies (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 fully bare — our bodies, earlier than eradicating air from the bag utilizing a vacuum cleaner.

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 had 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 objective 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 assume it is solely about distance,” he added. “Surprisingly, I typically really feel that the topics do not look very intimate, even when their our bodies are fully 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 referred to 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 whole homes, he hopes to go larger nonetheless, reminiscent of vacuum-packing a whole park. He additionally hopes to discover “new inventive types,” he added.

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

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