Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

Close Contact

Spheres are everywhere, a natural form that is omnipresent in the universe, from planets to the human eye, and in concepts like a circle of friends. Close Contact explores the human form and the sphere. It looks at how spherical shapes and the human body co-exist and intertwine on a conceptual level, captured in the physical on large print photographs.

The texture of leather against skin

Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen is the partner and co-founder of Norm Architects in addition to his work as a photographer. Together with the creative direction of Nathan Williams, co-founder of Kinfolk, they collaborated using spheres by Sørensen Leather to juxtapose the texture of leather against skin and explore the sphere-body concept.

Big prints of the photo shoot

The decision to use a 101-megapixel medium format camera system to make prints was a conscious decision. The camera needed be able to capture an extraordinary amount of detail not possible in other camera systems, since tactility of the subjects being photographed was at the heart of the project.

The exhibition comprised of ten large-scale artworks and 100 portfolios of smaller prints at The Kinfolk Gallery in Copenhagen – a minimalistic space designed by Norm Architects. Alongside the prints, the large spherical leather balls lay around like living sculptures in the open space of the gallery floor, their soft curves and smooth texture complementing the large printed images of human curves and supple skin.

Contrasts and connections

“The images highlight the contrasts and connections between geometric and anthropomorphic shapes, the latter referring to the Greek words anthropos and morphe meaning human form. Elements fundamental to our design process.” – Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

The beautiful look and feel of leather is universal. In my mind, it stems from a connectivity with our own skin and a deeper, innate desire to connect with nature.

The minimalist’s perspective

Why did you decide to use Phase One for this project?

“I had done a test shoot with Phase One for another project and was amazed by the level of detail captured in the images. As this project was all about capturing the tactility of skin and leather, I instantly realized that Phase One would be the right choice. I also knew that I wanted to work very sculpturally with the motifs and probably work a lot with cropping the captures.”

“As the prints were going to be large scale, I knew the 100 megapixels would come in handy.”

Do you have some print tips?
“For this project, we decided to glue the prints on the back of 6 mm hardened glass. This gave an incredible depth to colors and image.”

What did you feel when you saw the prints and all the rich details of the skin and leather?
“It really underlined how close the human skin is to leather, that we used for so many things as a product in our daily lives. It made the point about our intimate connection to leather as humans (wearing it) very clear.”

What were your thoughts on colors and composition in these pictures?
“I wanted to work with natural colors and tones that were close to the tones of the leather I had chosen for the spheres. I wanted to have images that very much harmonized with a quiet and melancholic beauty.”

Is there an element that can always be found in your pictures?
“Simplicity. As in our work with design and architecture, I always try to find the balance where there is nothing I can add or take away that will make the images stronger. Eliminating all the irrelevant also means emphasizing the important. In that way, your motif becomes stronger.”

Phase One would like to thank Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen for taking the time to share his insights into the Close Contact project.