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Human heat maps

07.06.2021 – Jürg Steiner

Two lovers look into each other’s eyes – their faces two red islands of warmth. A protective mask covers nose and mouth – like a thermal heat shield under burning eyes – with hair, head and neck combining to create a fiery image born of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thermal images along a colour spectrum ranging from light green to dark red are familiar to anyone who has dealt with house energy efficiency issues such as gaps in insulation.

Swiss architect Philippe Rahm, 53, who was educated at the EPFL in Lausanne, has used thermal imagery to create an artistic series of fiery snapshots that are on display at the Swiss Camera Museum in Vevey until the end of August 2021. French speaker Rahm, who lives and works in Paris, is an international pioneer in atmospheric architecture, which studies climate factors such as heat, cold, wind and humidity. He designed a huge eco park that opened in 2020 in the Taiwanese city of Taichung. Rahm’s favourite piece of professional equipment is his thermal imaging camera, which transforms invisible infrared radiation into different colours.

The thermal images in Vevey include an intimate portrait of Chilean architects (and couple) Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen as well as a selfie by Philippe Rahm himself. The reds in these pictures give off the most warmth. They are invisible human heat maps made visible.

“Infrared” by Philippe Rahm – a special exhibition on display until 29 August 2021 at the Swiss Camera Museum in Vevey,