Seascape Series

In an earlier post I discussed a diptych I had created (below), which was inspired by the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes. Originally I thought the boat disrupting the tranquil, secure environment of the seascape (as Sugimoto describes it) was an appropriate analogy for the way countries such as Uganda are hindering the progression of equal rights for the LGB community. But recently I have noticed more disturbing oppressive behaviour much closer to home.

Seascape Diptych Low resFormer Labour minister David Lammy responded to numerous homophobic and racist comments coming from the UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) members, Lammy said ‘the country was “on the cusp of a serious bit of self-mutilation”in backing UKIP. “Many of its candidates are saying terible things about people who are gay.”

One of the first oppressive comments that I came across from a UkIP member was from UKIP counciller David Silvester who had blamed the storms across Britain earlier this year on the governments decision to legalise gay marriage. But the most recent comment made by a UKIP member was from Paul Forrest, a local election candidate in Liverpool, who had ‘linked homosexuality to pedophilia’. Forrest had said that ‘gay men are “ten times more likely” to be child abusers than “normal men”‘. Not only has this candidate made oppressive comments regarding gay men he’s also targeted religious groups, describing the catholic church as “the antichrist” and the “end of Islam is coming and that it’s followers who refuse to turn to christ will be gone”. It has also emerged that a stockport UKIP candidate refereed to Islam as ‘evil’ and “Pakistan should be ‘nuked'”.

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has consistently made homophobic comments, stating that same-sex relationships are not worthy of the same respect as ‘traditional’ relationships and that the public should be aloud to openly dislike gay people. Roger Helmer says “marriage is defined by history, culture and reproductive biology and deserves special respect in society. (I am) perfectly relaxed about other relationships but they don’t justify the same respect”. Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, has attempted to defend the views Helmer has about homosexuality. The reason for this being that ‘”most” over 70’s feel uncomfortable about gays’. Farage has attempted to justify Hemlmers comments by saying grew ‘grew up with a strong christian bible background’ and that he grew up in a time when ‘homosexuality was actually imprisonable’.

For the leader of the party to try and excuse these comments made by an MEP is quite worrying for the LGB community, especially as they are growing in popularity. It appears that these comments are being overlooked  and brushed aside, seeing as they carry on to gain power. The affects of a political party who have these views gaining power would be devastating to gay rights in this country.

In response to this I have developed the diptych above to the series of photographs below. Extending the seascape so that this horizon is exaggerated, as a result exaggerating the secure environment as described by Sugimoto. But still having the boat within the scene to disrupt the seascape’s clean, perfect horizon. I’ve decided to print the photographs small so that the viewer is tempted to step in close to the photographs and become immersed within the seascape.

Panaramic View

I have also experimented by making an animation with the two original images in the diptych, as a way of representing this coming and going of a secure environment. But I have decided to use he series of photographs to address the topic discussed within this post.





Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes are a peaceful vision. Very simple photographs made up of just water, air and a horizon the divides the image in two, this is the entirety of the image.

Seascape 1 Seascape 2 Seascape 3

“Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract
attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.
The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena
spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could
just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let’s just say that there happened
to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right
distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly
inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe,
we search in vain for another similar example.
Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view
the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a
voyage of seeing.” – Hiroshi Sugimoto

In this quote Sugimoto talks about the seascape having a calming secure affect on the viewer. About knowing you are safe and belong in this place because the conditions on this planet are perfect for our existence.

The part ‘I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home’ refers to the seascape as being fixed in time. It remains a constant throughout time and is the same sight that the ancient world looked out upon and remains undisturbed.

I have recently visited the North East of England, staying in a place not far from the coast. Seeing the seascapes here reminded me of this series by Sugimoto, and that calming security that is conveyed in his work.

This seemed appropriate to include in my own work, as advances are being made in our society where it has become easier to live openly gay. Yet this isn’t a progression that can be seen in other countries that seem to be taking a backward approach to the liberalisation of the LGB community.

This report from The Guardian shows anti-gay activist celebrating the passing of anti-gay laws in Uganda. This ‘Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act’ sentences gay people o life in prison, within this bill the death penalty was first proposed before settling with life imprisonment.

This is why in the seascapes I have taken (shown below), I have included a disturbance upon the horizon. As a diptych you get that sense of a wide open, undisturbed space with this slight imperfection to the right of the horizon. Within this almost empty and peaceful image that tiny imperfection is magnified by the fact nothin else in the frame distracts from it.

My interpretation of this seascape is that it is peaceful and comforting and that ship on the horizon is a distraction from the security the seascape offers, as described by Sugimoto.

Seascape Diptych Low res