Hiroshi Sugimoto – Theaters

Created using long exposure, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series of photographs taken in a variety of American movie theatres was produced after he asked himself a simple yet inspiring question, ‘Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame?’ to which he answered, ‘you get a shining screen.’

What draws the viewer’s eye initially is the bold white screen. After first viewing this series of photographs, I believed that the shining white screen was the subject of the photograph. But now I realise that perhaps I was wrong, looking more closely at these photographs it is obvious that the architecture of the movie theatres and the detail which has been illuminated by the screen is perhaps more of the subject than the screen itself.

When a movie is in progress in a cinema, the whole of the auditorium is pitch black, obviously so that the screen is more visible and that attention is only directed at the screen. Perhaps Sugimoto is trying to make the invisible visible? By using long exposure, he has made it possible for the screen to illuminate the details in the architecture in the theatres and in turn making it impossible to see which movie has been shown.

I find these images absolutely stunning. I particularly enjoy small details such as in the first image, there are white lines in the sky which I believe to be stars or planes that have become visible because of the long exposure.   The strange light that shines from the screen and the strangely lit up theatres causes me too to agree with Hiroshi Sugimoto when he wrote, ‘I developed the film, and the vision exploded behind my eyes’.

Hiroshi Sugimoto


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