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"– the visual manifestation of what it looks like to be in love, as illustrated by images of Tokyo couples together, vacuum-sealed.
Since 2009, the well-regarded Photographer Hal has been asking couples he meets in nightclubs to lay next to their lovers, void of air, for the purpose of art. Strange? Yes. But once seeing the outcome it's hard to deny the images are wonderfully claustrophobic, at times grotesque and something quite unlike anything you've ever seen before.
In conversation with VICE 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 each inside of a plastic, vacuum-sealed bag and the air is sucked out.
Hal captures this moment of uncomfortably-close intimacy with just a few calculated shots before relieving the them. According to Feature Shoot, Kawaguchi says the men panic more often than the women and one man has urinated on himself during the process. He further explains the women just want to look good.
While the images are peculiar beyond words, they are sentimental and sweet. By nature, they are the personification of the definition of love, and what could be any more, peculiar, strange and intense jarring than this.