Hiroshi Sugimoto

Movie Theatres, 1976-2003

gelatin silver prints, 42.2 x 54.1 cm (16 5/8 x 21 5/16 in.)

Throughout the mid to late 1970s and upwards, Hiroshi Sugimoto packed up a folding 4x5 camera & tripod, surreptitiously entered matinees (and, one can only presume, evening film events) and documented the interior of movie theatres 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 crtiically, is what lends the images their incredible power - along wtih the natural fascination of being made privy to the photography’s divine birthright - allowing us to see the normall invisible - to experience a finite collapse of time.

Civic Theatre, New Zealand, 1991

Alhambra, San Francisco, 1992

Paramount Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 1997

U.A. Walker, New York, 1978

Canton Palace, Ohio, 1980

Trylon Theatre, NYC, 1976

La Paloma Theatre, Encinitas, CA, 1993

Radio City Music Hall, New York, 1978

Cabot Street Cinema, Massachusetts, 1978

Avalon Theatre, Catalina Island, 1993

Alhambra, San Francisco, 1992

(Source: museumuesum)

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