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Hiroshi Sugimoto

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Hiroshi Sugimoto
Contemporary (post 1945) Photography
(Tokyo, Japan, February 23, 1948 - )

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948; as a young man he studied politics and sociology at the university there. He went to Moscow in 1971 to investigate Socialism in action, but the journey left him disenchanted. Sugimoto changed his plan, moving to California in 1972. He entered an art and design college, becoming interested in advertising photography. Sugimoto moved to New York in 1974. It was here, in 1976, that he was struck suddenly by the ideas for the photographic series that would shape his career. The 'Dioramas,' Sugimoto's first series, were taken at the American Museum of Natural History. He felt that the 3-dimensional displays of animals in their natural habitats looked man-made and lifeless. In the ‘Dioramas,’ he set out to make the displays natural looking and scientifically credible. 'Theaters' were photographed primarily in movie houses constructed in the 1920s and 1930s. The camera was focused on the screen, and the film was exposed during the entire length of the film. This captured the screen as a brilliant white rectangle, contrasted with the shadowy obscurity of an ornate architectural shell. Sugimoto began ‘Seascapes’ around 1980. These photographs of the seashore divide ocean and sky evenly, with the horizon line in the center of the image. They look interchangeable, even though the photographs are of different oceans in different countries. Sugimoto described this series as reminiscent of when man first looked upon the sea and gave it a name. In his mind, 'Seascapes' are very religious and reflect the most ancient human impressions. Stylistically, Sugimoto uses black and white film exclusively, because, in his opinion, color film produces unrealistic color. Long exposures and naturalistic lighting are also central to his work. These elements help to produce true to life images that capture reality--the goal of Hiroshi Sugimoto's photography.

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