Hiroshi Sugimoto is an accomplished Japanese photographer and architect whose work often involves capturing the passage of time. He works in conceptual series and shoots black and white film on large format view cameras.
Sugimoto started his fine art career by taking photos of dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History back in 1976. He was intrigued by the concept of photographing dioramas because he wanted to capture a manmade representation of nature (the diorama), using a manmade method (photography). The transformation of a transformation was what drew his interest. The series is ever continuing, and even after 40 years, he still returns to the museum to photograph new dioramas.
Sugimoto has produced some really interesting series since then. There are numerous that deal with the passage of time. My favorite is his long exposures of movies at theatres – Sugimoto went to movie theaters and took photos of the screen that were exposed for the length of the film. The resulting effect is a series of white screens that reveal the details of the theatre around them, capturing the passage of time, the unseen subtleties in architecture, and the differences in how images are viewed. I was also impressed by his long exposures of seascapes, where he would leave the shutter open for seconds to hours. In fact, one of these images was used as U2’s album cover.
Sugimoto has done a fair bit of work on architectural photography, personalizing his approach with his “twice-infinity” method, which in essence, produces blurred images. I personally don’t find this work as intriguing as his other series, but architectural photographers applaud his ability to bring out the form of the building through the blurred photos.
There are so many more interesting series to cover, but one that I found quite interesting was the use of generators to run an electrical current through photographic paper, producing striking photos of what looks like lighting running through a dark sky. I think In my opinion, Sugimoto has produced some very successful conceptual series, and I wish that I could see his images on display, rather than on the screen of my computer.