Hiroshi Sugimoto: Lightning Fields

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce “Lightning Fields,” an exhibition of new photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto. The exhibition will be on view from September 10 to October 31, 2009.

Sugimoto’s “Lightning Fields” depict electricity, an element that — especially for photographers working with large-format negatives —  has historically been problematic and uncontrollable. Static electricity is well known to scar photographers’ negatives, and consequently to destroy their images. (This is one reason why carpets are not installed in darkrooms.) Viewing the challenge as an opportunity rather than a problem, Sugimoto has inverted the process and made nature’s static scars the focus of his attention.

To create each image, Hiroshi Sugimoto uses a Van De Graaff 400,000-volt generator to apply an electrical charge directly onto film.   The result in each case is a unique, instantaneous image of an electrical current, sometimes resembling a meteor shower, or a “treeing effect” on the film. Sugimoto’s recent body of photographs continue to evidence the primordial and metaphysical qualities that define his oeuvre.

The exhibition will also include two works from a parallel series, still in process, in which Sugimoto creates toned silver-gelatin prints from original negatives by William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process.  Many of the negatives used in this series have never been printed before, as they date back to Talbot’s earliest experiments with photosensitizing paper, before he conceived of the negative/positive relationship.

Hiroshi Sugimoto has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad.  His work is represented in many permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery, London, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, among many others.