The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has long blurred the line between the quick and the dead, or at least the mobile and the inert, concentrating visual perception while revealing his medium's inherent artifice. In his images, time is alternately stretched and compressed; what seems to represent an instant usually doesn't.
The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has long blurred the line between the quick and the dead, or at least the mobile and the inert, concentrating visual perception while revealing his medium's inherent artifice. In his images, time is alternately stretched and compressed; what seems to represent an instant usually doesn't. Sugimoto has always worked from a point of view of passing time, of taking a snapshot of an event that has already occurred, and of making the photographs the subject of a narrative that emerges from the time that has passed. In this exhibition, Sugimoto seems to have been preparing for a return to the moment of the event, to a moment when the photographic process might have the power to determine the passage of time. The process is more fluid than the filmic transition between the snapshot and the event, and it is filled with fluidity, however fleeting it may be.In a series of black-and-white photographs, Sugimoto has taken the same shot twice: once in the dark, then again with light. The process is also less photographic, and the photographs are more abstract, with little relation to the subjects they depict. The light-sensitive material in these works is not photographic, but rather a light-sensitive paper, and the images seem to have been made with light as a medium. The photographs show only the shadow of the shadow of the light source. Sugimotos use of light is more about the passage of time than the passage of images, and his photographs are like moments of cinematic suspense.The light-sensitive paper is usually the same color as the photographic image, and Sugimoto has photographed the light itself, using a white camera. The shadows that form on the paper are usually composed of a single color, but the images are often accompanied by a single, nearly identical image of an object. The objects that Sugimoto presents as photographic images are both abstract and real. In one series of photographs, for example, a series of rectangular boxes that resemble what looks like a baseball field has been photographed with a flash, and a series of photographs has been taken of the boxes in a similar manner. In a sense, the objects are themselves photographs, and the shadows are the shadows of the objects.
In a sense, Sugimoto's photography is the first step of a process that can continue indefinitely. And yet, as in the works of other Japanese photographers, Sugimoto's photography is a kind of cosmology. The images' space is defined by the images' relationship to the camera.In the past Sugimoto has used a camera that allows him to view his subjects' every move. In the current series, he uses a medium that allows him to see them as a series of discrete moments. In this sense, the photographer is a time traveler. He can travel back in time, but only to the point of imagining the scene before him, not where he is in front of the camera. As in the example of the recent photographic work, the photographs' temporal dimension is both contracted and extended. But Sugimoto's photographs are not panoramas of fleeting moments but panoramas of times in which time is extended indefinitely. For the viewer, time is not only a substance, but an absolute. In this sense, Sugimotos photographs are like epiphanies of the human being. They invite us to contemplate how we see and how we act.
The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has long blurred the line between the quick and the dead, or at least the mobile and the inert, concentrating visual perception while revealing his medium's inherent artifice. In his images, time is alternately stretched and compressed; what seems to represent an instant usually doesn't. In fact, it often looks as if the images were taken from a moving car, in which case the time seems sped up. The car, in turn, is often rendered in a material that looks like a photograph. The result is that the photographs look like photographs, and, if we take the pictures as photographs, they become almost mechanical. The images themselves are not that startling, nor are they particularly emotional, but they do have a slightly threatening quality that makes us hesitate about touching them. The very careful control of the image's appearance and of the way the light falls on it is an important element of Sugimotos art. It becomes his most important contribution to the photographic medium.Sugimoto has made some photographs that are very beautiful, and I have a strong attraction to them. But his most recent photographs, made for a group show in Yokohama, look rather dated. Theyre just as fleeting, and they lack the tension and tension that he has been looking for. The Kodak 50-mm camera, which is the most powerful and most versatile of all the cameras, is a rather new medium. It has the capacity to capture a whole scene in a single shot. It is also, however, very sensitive to light. The Kodak 50-mm is capable of recording images of various depths, from the bottom of a bathtub to the top of a mountain. The Kodak 50-mm can be used to shoot from a great distance, making it a very effective camera. Sugimoto has tried to use this fact to create a new photographic medium. The images he has been shooting are of a certain depth, and they are usually very close up. The only thing Sugimoto has done to this effect is to add a continuous shot of the image to the frame. This is a very successful technique. The result is that the photographs have an almost monochromatic, almost photographic quality.
The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has long blurred the line between the quick and the dead, or at least the mobile and the inert, concentrating visual perception while revealing his medium's inherent artifice. In his images, time is alternately stretched and compressed; what seems to represent an instant usually doesn't. In a few, Sugimoto has turned into a doppelgänger of himself. For example, in a series of photographs of the artist as a child, Sugimoto has used the same camera as the one he uses to take his photographs. Yet, unlike his parents, Sugimoto has no parental figure. Instead, he has grown up in a society where children are encouraged to play with toys and dolls, and to paint, as in the work of his father, who died in 2004. Sugimotos interest is in the formal and psychological aspects of these activities, which are in turn reflected in his own photographic practice.The exhibition's title, For Everyone a Future, is a line from the Belgian poet Marcel Broodthaers, and it was also inspired by a quote from that poet: In the face of a world made up of innumerable specters, a future is made up of many moments. . . . In the face of endless repetition, the most elementary form of communication is revealed. In the face of a world that has no future, the very first step is to become an individual. Sugimotos work, then, is a meditation on the process of becoming, and on the ability of the individual to express his or her individuality.In the end, the show's themes of individual and collective responsibility were intertwined with those of the artist's own mortality. All of the works in the exhibition, in fact, evoked the artists death. Sugimoto's photographs capture moments of terminal decay, in which the artist's presence becomes a sign of the very reality of his or her passing. The moment of death is both an epiphany and a challenge to the individual, who must live with the loss and the uncertainty of the experience of his or her own death. In the end, Sugimoto's photographs suggest that the individual is a product of the collective imagination, as the artist's photographs suggest that the collective imagination is a source of inspiration.
The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has long blurred the line between the quick and the dead, or at least the mobile and the inert, concentrating visual perception while revealing his medium's inherent artifice. In his images, time is alternately stretched and compressed; what seems to represent an instant usually doesn't.Sugimotos recent exhibition, his first solo show in the United States, focused on the relationships between the organic and the mechanical, between the subject and its representation. The exhibition featured a variety of images taken from the artists ongoing series Self-Portraits, 2014–, in which Sugimoto portrays himself as the artists body—an almost skeletal body in a suit of armor, with his hands held out in front of him. The photographs feature the artist, who seems to have been standing in the same pose every time, a gesture that seems both unself-conscious and self-aware. In one image, the body is positioned as a mask, its left hand pointing downward, but with the right hand reaching up to the viewer. The mask itself is a self-portrait: a human face, its features reproduced in the fleshy blackness of the mask. The blackness of the body, which is itself the blackest of blackness, is here subtly modified by the mask, which is also black, but a much thinner, more delicate, and less visible. The mask's thick black glove becomes a prosthesis, a prosthesis whose function is to hide. In another photograph, a maskless hand appears to be holding a photo of a face, which is itself a mask; and yet another maskless hand, this one handless, stands behind a maskless head. The handless mask that once covered the face, that maskless hand, that maskless hand, that maskless mask, all appear as a dead hand. The body is the mask; the mask is the body.In Self-Portrait, the artist appears as a dead man in a suit of armor, but one who has been transformed into a dead man. In Self-Portrait, the body is a mask, a maskless mask. In Self-Portrait, the mask is a mask. The body is a mask, a maskless mask.