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  1. #1
    Senior Member Loxias's Avatar
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    Default Photographer : Hiroshi Sugimoto

    I have decided on this little project. In hope to make my contribution to the forum more useful and also to initiate conversations on my main passion in life, and one that seems to be shared by many on the forum : Photography.

    The project consists in presenting each week a relatively famous photographer and his or her work to the forum. Then we can discuss what we like or dislike about it, whether we relate or not to it... Why not even, for the type-crazy people around here, try and type their work or what type of people you suspect the work of the photographer might be more attractive to.

    My choice of order of photographers to present is quite random, although the first I will come up with are most likely ones I personally feel more special about.

    I also will not try to introduce too much of the meanings that the photographers or the critics claim for the works as I believe meaning is essentially in the eye of the viewer, and that discussing our interpretations without too much pre-knowledge will be more enriching.

    Anyway, before this introduction becomes tl;dr, let's introduce the photographer of the week!

    Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer (and architect) born in 1948 in Tokyo. He lives and work primarily in Tokyo and New York.
    After graduating with a BFA in Tokyo, he left for Los Angeles to graduate a second BFA, and then moved to New York.

    One of his first series, done in 1974 is called Dioramas.
    I'll quote Sugimoto (from his website) on how this series came up :
    Upon first arriving in New York in 1974, I did the tourist thing. Eventually I visited the Natural History Museum, where I made a curious discovery: the stuffed animals positioned before painted backdrops looked utterly fake, yet by taking a quick peek with one eye closed, all perspective vanished, and suddenly they looked very real. I'd found away to see the world as a camera does. However fake the subject, once photographed, it's as good as real.


    Another famous and very thorough series is Theaters.
    I'll have to quote Sugimoto again here :
    I'm a habitual self-interlocutor. Around the time I started photographing at the Natural History Museum, one evening I had a near-hallucinatory vision. The question-and-answer session that led up to this vision went something like this: Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame? And the answer: You get a shining screen. Immediately I sprang into action, experimenting toward realizing this vision. Dressed up as a tourist, I walked into a cheap cinema in the East Village with a large-format camera. As soon as the movie started, I fixed the shutter at a wide-open aperture, and two hours later when the movie finished, I clicked the shutter closed. That evening, I developed the film, and the vision exploded behind my eyes.


    Sugimoto is also very famous for his Seascapes, taken in many different places, over more than twenty years.


    His Architecture series consisting of pictures of emblematic modernist constructions taken with a focal length of twice that required for infinity focus.


    His series of pictures of wax sculptures from Ms Tusseaud's museum taken with a lighting similar to that used by renaissance portrait painters. This serie is called Portraits.


    His latest series, Lightning Fields is more experimental, focusing on the effects of electricity on photographic plates.


    Hiroshi Sugimoto works mainly on 8x10 inch black and white negatives.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    those bokeh architecture shots are taken simply not focusing far enough.

    i think the word you were looking for was large format camera instead 8x10 inch negative

    anyway last photo looks really interesting, but others not so much. im not much into asian photo art style

  3. #3
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    i agree with intp ...i love the idea of the thread...love photography but not crazy about the ones posted.

    i'll keep an eye on the thread tho.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  4. #4
    Senior Member Loxias's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    those bokeh architecture shots are taken simply not focusing far enough.
    No, he is focusing twice the focal length used for infinity, so it's "too far" rather than not far enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    i think the word you were looking for was large format camera instead 8x10 inch negative
    There are different sizes of large format camera. I work on 4x5 at the moment, for instance.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    anyway last photo looks really interesting, but others not so much. im not much into asian photo art style
    Thanks for your opinion. I am not sure we can talk about a unified asian photo art style though. Sugimoto has a very personal style, which is very diferent from say, Morimura, or Yanagi...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady X View Post
    i agree with intp ...i love the idea of the thread...love photography but not crazy about the ones posted.

    i'll keep an eye on the thread tho.
    What would you say would have made the pictures more interesting to you?
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  5. #5
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    well i will say that i liked his choice of focal length in the architecture shots...i like the lighting on the portraits...but overall the subject matter wasn't very interesting to me...i guess they just don't speak to me in any emotional sort of way.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  6. #6
    Senior Member Loxias's Avatar
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    I understand. Sugimoto can appear quite coldly conceptual.
    I like his work because it seems to often carry an otherwordly dimension. Like Orthodox icons, they are like windows to a spiritual level for me.
    Next week i'll present someone drastically different.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loxias View Post
    No, he is focusing twice the length of infinity, so it's "too far" rather than not far enough.


    There are different sizes of large format camera. I work on 4x5 at the moment, for instance.


    Thanks for your opinion. I am not sure we can talk about a unified asian photo art style though. Sugimoto has a very personal style, which is very diferent from say, Morimura, or Yanagi...


    What would you say would have made the pictures more interesting to you?
    that last one of those bokeh architectures looks like one focused close instead too far because that bokeh ball is in focus differently than those further away. there might be some other factors doing that tho.

    yes i know that there is different size negatives, usually people just talk about large format photography instead 8x10 inch negative black and white..

    there is pretty clear characteristics in asian photo art, this photographer has them.

    different style and subjects would make those pics more interesting.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Loxias's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    that last one of those bokeh architectures looks like one focused close instead too far because that bokeh ball is in focus differently than those further away. there might be some other factors doing that tho.
    I go by what he said he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    yes i know that there is different size negatives, usually people just talk about large format photography instead 8x10 inch negative black and white..
    I thought I was bringing more useful precision.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    there is pretty clear characteristics in asian photo art, this photographer has them.
    I am genuinely interested in that (ie: I am not asking this to argue). What are those characteristics, and how do they appear in Sugimoto's work?

    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    different style and subjects would make those pics more interesting.
    Oh well... To each their own.
    I hope the next photographer I will present will gather more positive reactions.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loxias View Post
    I am genuinely interested in that (ie: I am not asking this to argue). What are those characteristics, and how do they appear in Sugimoto's work?
    its mostly in the mood of the photos, alot of them use b/w film, weird out of this world abstracts, the way of simplifying(not the simplifying itself, but how they do it), the way that they present the reality etc etc. there is alot of characteristics in it, but mostly its just in the overall feel that you get from them and very often they shoot what they see instead of building the picture by themselves, quite often see art in normal everyday stuff.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Loxias's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    its mostly in the mood of the photos, alot of them use b/w film, weird out of this world abstracts, the way of simplifying(not the simplifying itself, but how they do it), the way that they present the reality etc etc. there is alot of characteristics in it, but mostly its just in the overall feel that you get from them and very often they shoot what they see instead of building the picture by themselfs.
    Intereting, I agree there is often a detached mood to Japanese photography (I won't talk about Chinese photography because I don't know much about it).
    What do you mean by "the way of simplifying", or simplifying what?

    The last sentence I cannot really agree with. There is definitely a tradition of non composed "decisive instant" pictures in Japanese photography. And while Sugimoto hardly builds his subject matter either. There are many Asian photographer working on deliberately staged photos.
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