A graduate of Keio University, Japan, in Environmental Information, Kenji has used his creative energies to explore the meaning of human life. Eager to look beyond the surface of the traditional photograph, which, mimetic in function, reflects back the people and places already visible to the naked eye, Kenji has utilised the properties of thermographic photography; a technique that offers the possibility of presenting the visual expression of life itself.
Kenji started using a thermal camera for his project "Precious Ones"; a series of portraits of friends and family. His idea was to offer a visual representation of the human spirit as shown by the thermal camera as it records the body's temperature and so describes the human form in vibrant reds and yellows.
For his next project, "Celebrity" Kenji explored further his interest in visualising life by looking at its absence. Influenced by Hiroshi Sugimoto's photographic portraits of waxworks in Madame Tussauds in which the transformative process of the photograph offered the illusion of life, turning the lifeless waxworks into something real and alive, Kenji wanted to do the opposite and find a way to portray their lifelessness.
He discovered that when viewed by the thermal camera, the waxworks are clearly lifeless. Without any heat the camera could not capture their human form and the thermographic photograph becomes an uninformative cold sea of blue. It is only when visitors to the museum gather around their favourite celebrity, transferring their own heat, that the celebrity waxworks begin to register in the photograph.
In a society in which the adoration of empty people culminates in the cult of celebrity the metaphor Kenji offers us is simple; celebrities can only exist when worshipped by their fans. And so at Madame Tussauds, the lifeless waxworks only become visible when their fans eagerly crowd round them, filling the empty cold negative space with the vibrancy of their warm glowing bodies.
It is fitting that at the Mecca of celebrity, Kenji reminds us that fame and celebrity are dependent for their life force on the continual support of their collective fans.