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Sugimoto’s Time Warping

Photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s haunting long exposure photographs engage the viewer with the elements of history and time, often serving as a symbol of the progression of time, while also capturing a moment or place. Sugimoto’s beautifully haunting 1978 series Theatres were created by toting a 4×5 camera to classic American movie palaces and drive-ins around the country. Setting up the large format camera in a vantage point that celebrated the grandiose architecture of the theater’s interior, Sugimoto would then let the feature film create the exposure onto the sheet of film. The aperture was left open for the duration of the film, the film projector being the sole source of light that gradually illuminated the details of the theater and burned it into the negative over the extremely long exposure. Each softly surreal photograph represents the passage of time, while also paying tribute to the iconic and escapist American past time of going to the movies. The piece available is from this 1978 series, entitled Palace, New Jersey, and is a gelatin silver print edition of 25, from Sonnabend Sundell Editions. The framed piece is an excellent example of the Theatres series, capturing both the essence of time in its subject matter, but also by documenting a time in history when the American movie house was designed as an ornate cultural venue, before the big box movie houses that show Hollywood blockbusters today.

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