The way they look

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Japanese artists are very fond of putting their “zen” philosophy into their art. Same with Sugimoto. The concepts behind his work are about environment and time. For example his work “Theatre” questions about time. The photos he took are evidence of the timespan across a movie. And what comes out in the end is a bring white screen – meaning – too much information ends up with nothingness.

With his famous work of “Seascapes”, he questions time again on a different level. He asked himself, “Can somebody today view a scene just as primitive man might have?” And his answer is the ocean, over and over again. He travelled all over the world for this work for a repetitive image of air and water in different continent. For him, he thinks no matter how time has passed, and what humans have done to Earth, this view may still exist. The ultimate timeless work you can produce. His work also aims to remind us, as human beings, to return to our innocent minds before we destroy ourselves in this capitalism world.

This concept is also found in his work “Dioramas”, which is about photographing his idealistic vision of nature. The work was shot in museums. Through the window of nature, he captures what diorama artists constructed for us humans to view in a museum. What’s mind blowing is that his work from this series doesn’t look like anything shot from a museum but the real primitive scene. This led us as viewers to think and question whether what he shot was real, and wonder what it was like during the primitive stage, again reminding us about the the nature and “nothingness” before us human destroy it all.


To be honest, his work is too conceptual for me. If I am to look at the photographs alone, I wouldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Maybe I’m not at that level yet. But it’s interesting to see what other artists do with the photography medium. How they talk about what they want to say through this medium.


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