Hiroshi Sugimoto's images make us blink. Whether he is condensing the light of a feature length movie into a solid white rectangle, expanding the split second of a wave into an eternally still form, or blurring the sharp lines of a modernist structure into a soft, imaginary shape, Sugimoto's photographs demand to be gazed at again and again, blink after blink, allowing our eyes to recover from the experience of viewing more time and space than they know how to absorb in one look. The ongoing Seascapes
, a series begun in 1980, at first seems to be repetitions of the same image with only the slightest of sharply detailed variations, but in fact is pictures of bodies of water the world over: the Japanese, Ligurian, Irish, and Baltic Seas, and Lake Superior. Perhaps the least changing scenes on earth, the oldest visions that we can share with our ancestors, the seas embody an eternal concept of time perfectly jarred by the fast exposures Sugimoto shoots them with. Architectures
, begun in 1997, attempts to recreate the imaginative visions of works of modernist architecture before the architect built the building. The details dissapear in the images' lack of focus; what remains is a strong vision in black and white. Most recently, Sugimoto has turned his camera on Japanese art tradition, using as his source material a famous ink drawing of a pine tree landscape by 16th-century artist Tohaku Hasegawa. The 14-meter-long, scroll-like photographic panel that resulted was used as the backdrop for a Noh performance at the Dia Center for the Arts, New York, in the summer of 2001.
The simplest forms have authority, like a blank white light. And how do you photograph that? --Hiroshi Sugimoto
Edited by Eckhard Schneider.
Essays by Thomas Kellein and Hiroshi Sugimoto.