Thermal Photography by Kenji Hirasawa

Florian Lascombes, Paris 2008
Florian Lascombes, Paris 2008

Dear Shaded Viewers,

When I was in Tokyo a few weeks ago I met the photographer Kenji Hirasawa. Yesterday he was in Paris for a book signing 'Celebrities' at Offprint Paris and Le Bal. Today is the last day if you are in Paris I recommend a visit to see some emerging practices in photography and image making. It goes on till 6pm today 21/24 rue Ganneron, 75018. Kenji sold 20 books yesterday and many of the other exhibiting photographers told him that his book was their favorite.

Kenji uses a thermal camera which measures the body temperature and scrutinizes what is human life. Thermal photography was originally used for defense purposes in order to expose the life of human beings and to contrast it with the 'dead' environment. The camera measures infrared radiation. Each object emits a certain amount of radiation which is dependent on the body temperature.

Yasuhiro Tsuchiya, Osaka 2010
Yasuhiro Tsuchiya, Osaka, 2010

In 2009-11 he did a series at Madame Tussaruds contrasting lifeless waxwoks with living human beings. His book Celebrities questions what it means to be a celebrity. One can only come into being as celebrity if the public constitutes one this way. Without this attention, one is essentially nothing. Celebrities as such are indistinguishable from their environement. They depend on their audience in order to be shaped.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Amy Yifan Lai, London 2008
Amy Yifan Lai, London, 2008

Kenji has always been fascinated by skin-ship, where people interact with each other through the sense of touch. This is due to his Japanese culture where it is considered polite if one keeps a distance between people when communicating; they bow to each other instead of handshaking. That being the case it is rare to feel the other's body temperature in Japan. To satisfy that curiosity, Kenji uses thermography to visually re-connect his connections with human's warmth. 

Kenji's sole aim is to record life itself as a true marvel.

DP by Kenji Hirasawa
October 2011 Tokyo

I met Kenji on my last day in Tokyo, totally exhausted and was wondering if I would come out dead or alive. Judging by my green nose, I guess it was a bit cold that day. He brought me the photo today with a scale with the temperature and in fact I was also a bit hot that day well my neck and farhead anyway. It is not my most glamorous photo but it is extremely interesting, vanity aside.

Kenji Hirasawa yesterday at les Deux Abeilles



Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.