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