Have you ever felt so close to your significant one that you wanted to become a single being? That symbiotic desire of cuddling each other to the point you feel isolated from the rest of the world? Japanese artist Photographer Hal artworks revolve around the concept of ‘love’ and intimacy. His latest project is called “Flesh Love” and captures the many varied and fresh couples in vacuum sealed package. Love is like a cocoon that protects them from the external world but also brings them to the deepest level of exclusivity. Images are intriguing, bizarre, and sweet. Hal finds his muses from the streets of Kabukichou in Shinjuku, known for its off-beat and adult entertainment.
What is your background and how did you become passionate about photography?
Living through my university days I was starving for encounters with different people from other cultures around the world. As soon as I had the opportunity I left Japan and began my travels with a special focus on the Middle East and India. It was here that I first became aware of my passion for photography. The camera became the key to overcoming shyness and limited local language abilities and I could in some way communicate with the people I met. After graduating from university I joined an advertising production company in Tokyo and this enabled me to acquire a much wider set of photographic skills. The assignments were varied and unique including celebrities and established fashion icons. It was the crucible of my technical ability and the focus in my work soon became the people.
What are the main themes in your photography?
I want to capture love as it really is and the bathtub is an ideal vehicle to encapsulate the vivid reality in my images. A grand theme in mankind is Love, and I, Photographer Hal, am challenging the majestic theme! Those in power are continually guilty of segregation and discrimination, can we realise peace under such conditions? You who are standing on the earth, no matter where you are, love the person in front of you. From two people to a group, a town to a community, a city to a country, from border to border, the ring of love shall prevail. I have started to create my ring of love in the city of Tokyo, believing that some day a world peace without segregation and discrimination will come true.
Who are your favourite subjects?
Always I take shoot with respectable. Therefore all the subjects are important for me.
Who and what inspire you the most artistically?
I think I am being inspired from all the things I saw in the world.
How would you define your style?
When you embrace your lover, sometimes you wish to melt right into them. To realise this wish, I’ve been photographing couples in small, or even cramped spaces like motels and bathtubs. As my work has become more and more intense, I’ve noticed that communication is indispensable. This time, I reached the point of photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs.
Tell us more about your project “Flesh Love”, what is the meaning and the underlying message?
Looking at these vacuum-sealed packs of love, we can imagine a more peaceful world. For me, the vacuum pack is only a means: the important thing is connecting to someone.
Your photoshoot setup for “Flesh Love” looks very complicated. Can you describe the challenges that you and your muses face?
There is a set that I’ve constructed in my own kitchen. The lights are in the ceiling, so I just flip one switch and have everything ready. I have a few different coloured paper backgrounds, which I can leave rolled up in the corner. After the couple get in the vacuum pack, I suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner until there’s none left. This gives me 10 seconds to take the shot. In this extremely limited time I can’t release the shutter more than twice. I’ve been in there myself, and the fear I felt was overwhelming. As the shooting continues over multiple takes, the pressure of the vacuums seal grows stronger. At the same time, the two bodies start to communicate, and whether through unevenness of limbs or the curve of joints they begin to draw a shape of what they want to express. The two lovers draw closer until they finally transform into a single being.
What are your photography plans for the future?
I am going to keep on take shooting lovers !!