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Art×Science : FACE Project

A research collaboration with artist Kazu Hiro :

Using art and science to find the unique, expressive beauty that matures inside every person with passing years

The Sensory Science Laboratories at Kao Corporation (Michitaka Sawada, President) have concluded a joint research agreement with the special make-up effects artist and contemporary sculpture artist Kazu Hiro. He and the laboratories will be applying both artistic and scientific methods to explore how a face expresses a person's individuality.
Once the project commences, Kazu Hiro will be creating sculptures of beautiful faces radiant with individuality. By analyzing his process from a scientific perspective, Kao hopes to build up a store of knowledge and expertise that will make it possible to bring out the individuality of every face.

Leading up to the research collaboration

The special make-up effects artist Kazu Hiro became the first Japanese ever to win the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hair Styling. His creativity and technical abilities have taken him to the top of his profession in Hollywood, where he has long been based. Recently he has shifted his focus to fine art sculptures, using his skills to create larger-than-life, ultra-realistic faces.
A hallmark feature of Kazu Hiro's facial sculptures is his method for reproducing intricate traits such as the redness of the capillaries and tiny wrinkles using a technique to recreate skin exactly as it appears to the naked eye. Anyone who sees a Kazu Hiro sculpture wonders how he so faithfully reproduces the translucence, colors, and textures of actual skin. Part of his skill comes from his acute sensitivity. Researchers at Kao believe that his talents can bring new perspective into their work in skin science.
The faces that Kazu Hiro 's creates strike the viewer with a sense that they are seeing a true-to-life likeness with a life force that tangibly breathes in the air. To bring across a person's character, emotions, aspirations, and other pieces that make up the distinctive attractiveness that is hers alone, Kazu Hiro considers the past history and experience of a subject when he sculpts one.
In its joint research with Kazu Hiro, Kao researchers hope to learn how he projects a person's presence as a sculptor. They are searching for the features of a piece that will linger in people's minds and how those features integrate into the holistic form of a face depicted to the finest detail. This collaboration will provide an opportunity for valuable research that will move beyond the mere concealment of blemishes toward an understanding of what expresses individuality in a face.

Details of the joint research

By scientifically analyzing Kazu Hiro's creative process as a sculptor, Kao hopes to build up a fund of knowledge and experience for creating faces with an individual presence.
On one level, Kao's researchers will apply principles of dermatology, optics, and color science to search for the key physical features that make skin appear real. On a second level, they will use principles of psychology, brain science, and facial science to discover how a person expresses her inner nature. The ultimate goal is to develop a process to convey a new sense of beauty that eludes the influences of age and preconceptions. The findings from this joint research will empower Kao to help realize a society where the individuality of every woman stands out.

Kazu Hiro


The visual artist Kazu Hiro was born in Kyoto and currently resides in Los Angeles. He moved to the United States after studying special make-up effects on his own. For the last 25 years he has worked in Hollywood as a special make-up effects artist, developing his own unique process using silicon, resin and various other materials. In 2012 he moved into the contemporary art world by sculpting busts of Abraham Lincoln and Andy Warhol double their real-world size, the first two pieces in what has become a highly acclaimed series. At the 90th Academy Awards presented in 2018, he become the first Japanese ever to win the Academy Award for Best Make-up and Hair Styling, for his contribution to the movie Darkest Hour. In March 2019 he obtained United States citizenship and changed his name from Kazuhiro Tsuji to Kazu Hiro.

Kao's sensory science research

The mission of the Kao group is to realize rich cultural backdrops to everyday life and contribute to social sustainability. As an innovator, Kao underpins its mission by conducting basic research in a wide range of fields from the dual perspectives of people and things.
The main aim of the Sensory Science Laboratories is to study the human senses and emotions through science. This joint research will provide the opportunity to accelerate basic research through the fusion of different disciplines and enhance the sensibility brought to bear on Kao's ever-evolving research into the development of innovative products.

Media inquiries should be directed to:

Corporate Communications
Kao Corporation

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