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Sunday, March 16, 2008
Like a moth drawn to a flame...

"Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame?"

The answer: "You get a shining screen."

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Theaters" series began with interior photographs of 1920's and '30s picture palaces - taken in the 1970s - and progressed to pictures of modern cinemas and drive-ins. He would set-up his camera in the balcony - normally during the afternoon showing when the theaters were mostly empty - and kept the shutters open for the film's entire screening. The photograph's light source is the film itself and the result is a glowing rectangle in the centre of a yawning space - an entire film is compressed into one image. Sugimoto also said that though all films emerge as white, the degree of whiteness varied according to the type of film: optimistic movies end up brighter than grim, downbeat ones.
You can't help but be captivated. The central position of the static, luminous screen draws you in; it is hypnotising. It leaves you feeling as if you're suspended in a moment of timelessness, and it's completely unsettling.You're later left wondering why you have bypassed the ornate, empty beauty of the theatres and the vastness of the open skies to look at a white rectangle of pure light. These blank screens are anything but blank though, they are filled with images of motion and time.
(The originals are 4x5 feet so I can only imagine the effect they have in full size).

If you're interested in seeing more, I especially recommend "Seascapes".

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