"I am involved with the social realities of today, at the same time that I am involved with the traditions and classical culture of Nara and Kyoto, and these two involvements are linked by their common search for the point in which they are related to the fate of the people, the anger, the sadness, the joys of the Japanese people." Ken Domon ( 25 October 1909 – 15 September 1990)
Throughout the mid to late 1970s and upwards, Hiroshi Sugimoto packed up a folding 4×5 camera & tripod, surreptitiously entered matinees (and, one can only presume, evening film events) and documented the interior of movie theaters across the United States – invoking a classic procedure borrowed from Conceptual Art. He would open the shutter just before the ‘first light’ hit the screen and close it after the credits finished rolling and before the house lights came on. Using this method he was able to invert the subject/object relationship of the movie theatre and use the film itself to illuminate the proscenium and interior. However – it’s MORE than that, isn’t it? There is also a social and political critique implicit to the gesture. The rendering of a ‘blank’ movie screen carries with it a whole series of alternate implications that are highly relevant to a culture of consumption. The unavoidable allusions of mass social programming and lack of content are implicit in the act. This content, largely unaddressed critically, is what lends the images their incredible power – along with the natural fascination of being made privy to the photography’s divine birthright – allowing us to see the normally invisible – to experience a finite collapse of time.
Produced in thirteen large cities, this project is as far as I know the largest of its kind ever produced. Paradoxically, although travel represents an opening, this is a metaphor of confinement: no longer a real world, but a world where the exterior and the other blend together with the interior and an internal confinement. I am a 42-year-old French artist living in Paris. My approach to photography is related to my approach to pictures in general: an aesthetics of globalization, the quest for a unique human and cultural identity that comes before regional culture.