Kenji Hirasawa 

Katre Laan, London, Portraits 

Katre Laan, London

About the artist

Kenji Hirasawa studied IT and environmental sciences, which allowed him to become familiar with emerging communication techniques in the post-internet age. As an artist, he now reuses electromagnetic waves, infrared light and microwaves in his work. He uses a thermographic camera for his portraits, meaning that his subjects are shrouded in blue and yellow halos and covered with a shower of pixels.


How was the Portraits project born? What decided you to use a thermographic camera?
I started using a thermographic camera in 2003, when I was at the university of Keio in the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies. I was researching “remote sensing” and analysed satellite images showing changes in the earth’s surface. In the department where I was studying, there was a thermographic camera; I thought I could use it to shoot a portrait of a friend.

The resulting image makes no attempt to conceal the pixel material. What is your interest in that material, as an artist?

The device only allows the production of small images; it cannot capture more than 80 000 pixels, it was not designed to produce high-definition files. I am interested in the visual world offered by this device, as it provides access to temperatures, to people’s lives, all things that the eyes can’t normally see.
It’s an expression – impossible to capture with any other means or media - of the human essence, a memory of the light emitted by individuals. What also interested me is the method’s objectivity. The original file, as captured by the camera, is a mass of digits converted to colour pixels by software. The presence of the pixel, its visibility in the image, is essential to remind us that each pixel is actually a translation of data.
Recent developments in DNA research have led us to treat our life like data. I also use technology in my artistic approach to express the risks and fragility of life.

You never reveal facial features. Is this to go beyond appearances? Would you say this is a kind of interior portrait you’re shooting?

My purpose is not to obtain a pretty picture, as it depends solely on the interpretation of temperatures. Facial features or clothing are of no particular importance. I always require outfits to be very simple so as to focus on the essence of the individual.

Have you ever shot a self- portrait like this? What did you discover that you didn’t know?

I took a self-portrait, in the forest near Mount Fuji, naked in the snow. I was surprised that I was shown as blue colour where my surroundings were shown in deep navy colour. I seem to be sinking into a deep ocean. Only then I realised when my time is up, one day I will be a part of the nature, like any other human being, eventually.

Limited edition, numbered and signed.

Selected shows and awards

fotofever, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, 2013
New JPN GEN, ArtLigue, Paris, 2013
Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival, AlpenRose, Kobe, 2013
Emerging Directors' Art Fair ULTRA006, Spiral Garden, Tokyo, 2013
Tokyo Photo 2013, Zojoji, Tokyo, 2013
Art Kaohsiung 2013, Chateau de Chine Hotel, Kaohsiung, 2013
Portraits (solo), Bloom Gallery, Osaka, 2013
Art Osaka 2013, Hotel Granvia Osaka, Osaka, 2013
Clair (solo), Tap Gallery, Tokyo, 2013
Portraits (solo), Slant, Kanazawa, 2013
Portraits (solo), B Gallery, Tokyo, 2013
Art Fair Tokyo 2013, Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, 2013
Binding Image, muzyQ, Amsterdam, 2012
Paris Photo 2012, Grand Palais, Paris, 2012
TIFF International Photography Festival 2012, Wrocław, Poland, 2012
Get It Louder 2012, Sanlitun Village, Beijing, 2012
By Deep For Deep -Chapter Two-, Tin Cafe, London, 2012
By Deep For Deep -Chapter One-, Kk Outlet, London, 2012
5th International Photobook Festival, Le Bal, Paris, 2012
B Book Show, Ground Floor Left, London, 2012
A Book Show, Workflow Studio, Brighton, 2011
Celebrity (solo), KK Outlet, London, 2011
New Tenant, Connaught Close Project Space, London, 2011
Directly Acquired, The Air Gallery, London, 2010
Tokyo Photo View, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, 2006
Expolarider, Spiral Garden, Tokyo, 2005

Shortlisted In Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards 2012, Paris, 2012
Flash Forward Award, The Magenta Foundation, Toronto, 2012
Photobook Award, International Photobook Festival, Paris, 2012

Selected publications

Clair, Self-Published, 2013
Portraits, Libro Arte, 2013


& order

Kenji Hirasawa 
Katre Laan, London, Portraits


Technical information

Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


20,3 x 15,2 cm , Edition of 50 250.00 €

By the same artist

Kenji Hirasawa

By the same curator

NEW JPN GEN with Marc Feustel