Saturday, March 15, 2014


Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters: Details (Volume 1)
Claremont, CA : Laughing / Ough / Cube Publications, 2014
162 pages

“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.” --Hiroshi Sugimoto

Sugimoto embarked on this project in the late 1970s and continued until he had a portfolio of photos of “shining screens” and their surrounds, taken all around the united states. Among his most famous works, Theaters has given rise to a number of interpretations, some complementary, come contradictory.

It is my view that the real drama of the shining screens does not lie in the surrounds, the proscenium arches, the empty seats, etc. While those are also of interest, the question for me is: What might it “mean” (aesthetically, ontologically, psychologically, ecologically, politically …) to overinscribe a surface with light until all temporal and material details “disappear” (or do they)? In order to allow the viewer to do her own thinking about this before I offer my interpretation, Volume 1, which is made up of nothing but details of the “shining screens”, is being published first. Volume 2, which will require watching and analyzing all the films shown that enabled Sugimoto’s photos to achieve their effect(s), will follow sometime within the next two years. 

John Bloomberg-Rissman has about a year and a half to go on In the House of the Hangman, the third section of his maybe life project called Zeitgeist Spam. The first two volumes have been published: No Sounds of My Own Making (Leafe Press, 2007), and Flux, Clot & Froth (Meritage Press 2010). In addition to his Zeitgeist Spam project, the main other thing on his plate right now is an anthology which he is editing with Jerome Rothenberg, titled Barbaric Vast & Wild: An Anthology of Outside & Subterranean Poetry, due out from Black Widow Press, Autumn 014. He's also learning to play the viola and he blogs at (Zeitgeist Spam).    

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant. But more than I can take in one sitting. Could you maybe split it into 2 screens with an intermission in the middle -- one of those 'Coke/Candy/Popcorn screens? Much obliged. I like too stretch my legs a little in a long movie.