Picture of the Week #50: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theatres

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This week I have some very beautiful photographs for you. Hiroshi Sugimoto shot these images of American (movie) theatres with a long exposure, capturing entire films in a single frame, reducing movement to stasis and complicating the usual distinctions between still photography (instant) and film (continuous). Here’s how he describes the germ of the idea:

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.

Of course, you can’t see which film is which – there is only a celestial glow emanating from the screen. It’s a wonderfully romantic vision of the cinemagoing experience as a trascendence of our quotidian timeframe (and don’t you wish all cinemas looked like these?. See more of Sugimoto’s spectacular photographs at his website.