For his latest project the Japanese photographer Haruhiko Kawaguchi, aka Photographer Hal, has re-invented the couple portrait.
For his series Flesh Love he vacuum sealed couples in plastic bags to keep love fresh for ever. His premise is that couples want to be as close to each other as possible and want to become one. He also states that he creates an unique experience for the couple to feel each other in such a closed space. Kawaguchi selects couples he meets in Tokyo’s night clubs and while going out. The plastic bags he uses are more commonly used for vacuum packing futons. As it leaves no space to breathe, the vacuum can only be sustained for 10 to 20 seconds, giving the photographer a very tight timeframe in which to take the picture. Some couples are shot naked, others are sealed in with items closely connected to their personalities and the essence of their relationship.
In 2014 Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf created an installation of models suspended in vacuum between sheets of plastic for the fashion show of Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, during the Autumn/Winter Paris Fashion Week.
Unlike Kawaguchi’s project, the models in Malstaf’s installation were able to perform slow movements, as they controlled the suction level within the plastic sheets by using their thumbs to open and seal the vacuum tube. Malstaf first presented his shrink-wrapping experience in 2010, focussing on the meditative aspect of being suspended in the total absence of gravity, focussing on oxygen flowing around the body and slowing down life.
Artist Lucy McRae again chose a different approach to vacuum wrapping people as she presented a vacuum chamber at the London Design Festival 2014.
In her installation Prepping the Body for Space V.01 performers were wrapped in silver foil, leaving enough air to breathe but showcasing their bodies in the middle of surreal surroundings, creating a relief effect as they moved. McRae imagined vacuum packing bodies as a big part of future space travel and as training for the experience of zero gravity.