Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Sublime

Beauty can be had amidst the extant mayhem, cantakerous political animosity and maudlin pundrity that is the focus of many attentions these days. And some small sample of that beauty can be found at the The Hirshhorn Museum, which is showing a retrospective of Hiroshi Sugimoto's black and white photography. It offers a variegated sampling of Sugimoto's work, from his famous seascapes to his blurred architectural documents to the mathematical forms series.

Though the mathematical forms are the most striking for their sheer strength of lighting and form (the forms come labelled with the equations that describe the surfaces), I found myself mesmerized by the seascapes. The Hirshhorn's installation of these works adds tremendously to the pictures' effect. The series flows along the interior curve of the building in a large dark room where the only lighting are rectangular spots set perfectly to illuminate only the photographs themselves. It creates the effect of being in a dark room (which you are) and looking through windows out onto the sea.

Sugimoto's seascapes are are as varied and sublte as weather and light themselves, the prints silken. The scenes where sea and sky are blend together, in different degrees, by an ocean mist -- a fog of somekind -- draw the viewer into a far off realm. Context is important here, at least it was for me, for without it the images would not have had the impact they did. The night scenes are striking and the whole series evokes serenity and calm.

If you have the chance to see this exhibit, do yourself an huge favour and look out through the windows, onto a calm and eternal sea, a sea unconcerned with humanity's bitter pettiness.

And now, back to the ridiculous....


Blogger elendil said...

They are sublime. Thank you. You might like this too: Gornick.

4:42 PM  

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