'Hiroshi Sugimoto'에 해당되는 글 1건

  1. 2007.07.11 Hiroshi Sugimoto Interview

Hiroshi Sugimoto Interview

Cribs 2007.07.11 18:52

This interview was conducted in person at Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street on 06/04/05.
from the Kultureflash archive

Sherman Sam: Maybe we should talk about your show first. It surprises me that it both continues your work but also goes on a completely new track.
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Yes, of course I'm trying to be as different as possible but there has to be a continuous theme behind every series.

SS: This seems in a way more obviously "conceptual" because of its relation to Duchamp. Although the waxworks were also conceptual, they also seemed more like paintings.
HS: The first show at the Cartier Foundation was titled Etant donne, so it's a direct interpretation of Duchamp's Large Glass. But here I'm not using the glass box as part of the show, so I'm just calling it Conceptual Forms, the given title of this series.

SS: But the "Conceptual Forms" are different from the "Mathematical Forms"?
HS: Conceputal Forms consists of two parts, "Mathematical Forms" and "Mechanical Forms".

SS: So the "Mechanical Forms" are the bachelors and the "Mathematical" ones the brides?
HS: Yes, they're the brides... [laughs]

SS: So when you were conceiving this series, you had these forms in mind?
HS: Ahh, well I've been very curious about early Modernist movements including architecture and also the sciences. I've been studying this field for many years, more than 10 years. I've visited many museums, and actually I found one near Amsterdam, the Teylers Museum in Harrem, the first science museum, a collection of 18th century and 19th century scientific devices. The first battery system, a tank filled with chemicals that sparks, they're just huge things. Also there're telescopes, galvanometers, heliographs, optical devices, and many, many interesting devices from early science. I wanted to photograph this collection but it wasn't very easy. Then a couple years ago, I found the Tokyo University Collection, and I thought.

SS: It might be useful! [laughs] It seems that this is the first time you're photographing something very small.
HS: Yes, sort of... but I used the same camera for the architectural series. So even though it may be a small object, I'm keeping a same approach as if they were buildings or architecture. In my shots I lose the sense of scale, whether it's huge or small, so that it’s hard to tell.

SS: That's true, and is the exposure long?
HS: About 5 to 20 minutes.

SS: Oh, And with the buildings?
HS: The buildings are very short exposure, because I wanted it out of focus, so I couldn't use a small F-stop. It had to be wide open, and that limited the exposure to being as short as possible. In this case I wanted to get every detail as sharp as possible, so I used F-64. It's old tradition...

SS: So we've got the secrets now... everyone will know [laughs]. I suppose with this new series it is a finite group?
HS: I never say, well this is it. If I can find more interesting machines, I will keep continuing. And also... these "Mathematical Forms", I have the formula and everything, so I am experimenting to make a three-dimensional sculpture from it. I have a team organised. Something like this [gestures at image from his catalogue] is just a cut-off of this round section but it can be continuous. It could be as long as possible...

SS: Like Brancusi?
HS: Yes, this can be 2 metres, 3 metres, 10 metres... so I am working with the advanced study of mathematics at Tokyo University. Now everything is computerized, so I have this computer software to order a sophisticated carving machine to turn this trigonometric function into a form. A prototype-making team from the Honda motorcar company is making this for me. So this is of the highest standard, the most sophisticated machines and computer software from Tokyo University's mathematicians, all working together to make a sculpture.

SS: This seems in the opposite direction from how you take your photographs. They're quite singular, I mean they're very technical but old-fashioned in their production...
HS: Yes. It's interesting that you reminded me about Brancusi's sculpture. The Pompidou has Brancusi's studio, and I've been offered a show there

HS: It's still to be confirmed, as I'm still working on it to make sure that it works.

SS: The other correlation is, of course, that he was a 1920s artist...
HS: And Duchamp associated with Brancusi, and Duchamp was into the mathematics. He never really announced that himself, but those pieces that were at Poincare Institute in Paris. They owned the same set as the one that Tokyo University purchased in the 1910s and 1920s. Also Man Ray, the colleague of Duchamp, did a series of photographs of these same models.

SS: Really, I've not seen those.
HS: It's not very widely published. I knew that he did this series, plaster models from the same cast. Anyway when I found these objects at Tokyo University, I knew that Man Ray had done them, well... maybe I can do it better [laughs].

SS: I think your camera is a bit older than his...
HS: And so I tried to be as much different as Man Ray. He shot one side so I intentionally did the other. He shot from the top so I shot from the bottom.

SS: Where did you see these photographs?
HS: There are several books about these series...

SS: That goes to show what I know about Man Ray. Do they always have to be together? Can the brides be shown without the bachelors?

HS: No, no... Only for the Cartier Foundation show, I just named it as a singular show. So I don't particularly mention Duchamp here.

SS: I guess in a way maybe once people associate the Duchamp with the photographs, you'll always have a kind of narrative.

HS: This [referring to his La Boite en Bois (The Wooden Box) a facsimile of Duchamp's Large Glass] will be placed sometime today for tomorrow's opening...

SS: Ah... so it will be in the show.
HS: Yes, the pedestal is currently being made and will arrive later. This happened because I found the forth replica of Duchamp's Large Glass in Tokyo University's collection. At the same time I found a group of interesting models, and Duchamp's final replica... unbroken unfortunately. This is like a second or third generation replica... a replica of replica. Now this, again, is a photograph of a replica. So it is a third generation copy.

SS: So this is a photograph?!
HS: Yes, of the replica. The original negative is sandwiched with the contact print. So one side is negative, one side is positive. This an original 8x10 negative and it's an edition of 25... I shot 25 times to make the original negative [laughs], then I made a contact print out of it so that it is black and white. It is sandwiched in glass so it heavy, that’s why it's free-standing.

SS: The replicas were made by Richard Hamilton?
HS: No, no, that's just the Tate Gallery version. There are four replicas in all, two at the Stockport Museum, the third by Richard Hamilton and the fourth by the Japanese poet Shuzo Takiguchi. He is about the same age as Duchamp and they associated together. He got permission to make the 1968 replica. After Duchamp's death, the Tokyo University acquired it and Duchamp's wife, Teeny, came to authorise it...

SS: Its too bad she's not here now.
HS: But his adopted daughter, also the granddaughter of Matisse, Jacqueline Matisse who spent most of the last years with Duchamp, she came to see my piece. I thought it would be better to get permission from her. She loved it and approved it. She even borrowed my phone and rang the Philadelphia Museum and told them it was wonderful and they should have it. They bought it.

SS: If only life were that easy...
HS: Then she came to see my show in Paris. And later sent me a letter of congratulations, adding that "Marcel would have liked it". This was the best compliment!

SS: That's very, very nice. Have you been a Duchamp fan for a long time?
HS: Yes and no. In 1974 when I first moved to New York from California, the first thing I did was pay a visit to Philadelphia to see Duchamp's Large Glass and Etant Donne. At that time, it was only a few years since it had been on display. But I wasn't aware of how much of an influence he had on me, it was some time later when I made the connection "this must be very Duchamp". That is I was thinking in a very Duchamp-like way, so I decided to call myself "Duchampian".

SS: Coming back to these photographs, I'm surprised that they're such short exposures since some of your other works take such a long time.
HS: Well, not necessarily, the Seascapes are short exposures, but I spend many days, even weeks sometimes just going to one place. The actual shot is very short. It is the Movie Theatres that take very long but the architecture is also short. The dioramas are rather long... 20-30 minutes. One portrait, 20 minutes...

SS: What do you think about when you're shooting them?
HS: Mainly technical factors to make sure that everything is working, so I don't have a lot of time to think freely. I have to watch my film, my camera, the light. You never know something may go wrong, especially for the cinemas. I used to do it during the screening time with people present, so if someone lit a cigarette... of course it's no smoking but some people smoke! Striking a match and that would be the end. The hot spots show. So I had to keep watching that no one was smoking [laughs]...

SS: You work hard for your art.
HS: Yes!

SS: And you've seen a lot of movies...
HS: Oh yes, it's torture! [laughs]

SS: I like how you said in one of your interviews that different films give off different kinds of light. The happy movies were bright while sadder films were darker...
HS: Yes darker movies don’t have enough power.

SS: In another quote you said, "developing a low quality aesthetic is a sign of serious fine art, I can see this, but to me serious concepts are only shown through highly mastered techniques. Maybe I'm very 19th century minded."
HS: Yes, that's true.

SS: Do you feel that maybe as an Asian, your art is a continuation of certain Asian ideals.
HS: Well craftsmanship is very important to me. In this postmodern age, there is no respect for the craft, it's more concept. Trying to be as "fine" as possible seems to be outdated for a while... I told myself that I am a "pre-postmodern modernist"! [laughs]

SS: And there I thought we were post-postmodern modernists [laughs]...
HS: The postmodern experience of a pre-postmodernist [laughs].

SS: In a way you're very lucky in that your work matured in a time when photography as a medium came to the fore.
HS: Photography for a long time has been considered a second class citizen of the arts.

SS: But that's nice too in that it allows the photographers to carry on without much commercial pressure, except now you can carry on 'cause you have the money to do so.
HS: Well, I started from the 1970s so I had to wait a quarter of a century [laughs]...

SS: Do you feel that there are more things you want to do?
HS: Yes. Not just in photography, but also in sculpture and architecture... you never know. In my type of photography, it's not the digital world, it's fibre-based paper and chemical reactions. Nobody's making it anymore, so there is no market for the supplier. Any minute, companies like Kodak may stop making my film and so on... it's "endangered"! [laughs] So I could be forced to retire.

SS: Can't you buy the factory or have the material fabricated?
HS: Well... its not so easy to buy out Kodak!

SS: I guess you'll have to go digital.
HS: Next life!

SS: Maybe in the next life there'll be something more interesting to do. There is a quality of painting to your work. In that it's slow, it requires you to pay attention to texture and surface. The image is in relation to surface while very often most photography is about just image.
HS: Well, I just had lunch with Howard Hodgkin in his studio, I found it very interesting how the painter spends time... It's the same principle for me, I imagine my vision then try to make it happen just like painting. I don't go out with my camera looking for some image, I already have my vision first. The movie theatres for example, the vision was there already. The reality is there, but how to make it like my reality.

SS: So are there many rejected ones?
HS: Yes, mostly rejected.

SS: Wonderful, that's what we like to hear... Thank you.

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