Love is a complicated thing, ya' know. It's filled with twists and turns at every corner. And if it doesn't kill you, it will bind you to another person in a way that is strange, unique and intense.
It was this sentiment that inspired Tokyo-born photographer Haruhiko Kawaguchi, a.k.a Photographer Hal, to create his series "Flesh Love". Aiming for the visual manifestation of what it looks like to be in love, the artist has vacuum-sealed Tokyo couples together.
Since 2009, highly regarded Photographer Hal has been asking couples he meets in nightclubs to lay next to their lovers and hold their breath, all in the name of art.
Strange? Yes. But seeing the outcome, it's hard to deny the images are wonderfully claustrophobic, at times grotesque, and ultimately quite unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Speaking to VICE back in 2015, Kawaguchi explains:
"When you embrace your lover sometimes you wish to melt right into them. To realize this wish, I've been photographing couples in small, cramped spaces. Soon I reached the point of photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs. As my work has become more and more intense, I've noticed that communication is indispensable."
The process is pretty simple: couples cuddle up tightly next to one another inside a plastic, vacuum-sealed bag before the air is sucked out of the sack.
Hal captures this moment of uncomfortably close intimacy with just a few calculated shots before relieving the couples.
According to Feature Shoot, Kawaguchi says the men panic more often than the women and one man even urinated on himself (and we're guessing his partner) during the process. He goes on to explain that the women "just want to look good."
While the images are peculiar beyond words, they are also sentimental and quite sweet. By nature, they are the true personification of love. And what could be any more, peculiar, strange and intensely jarring than that crazy little thing called love.