‘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 be 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. 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’ H. Sugimoto, quoted in Hiroshi Sugimoto, http://www.sugimotohiroski.com/seascape.html (12 September 2016)
In Hiroshi Sugimoto’s N. Pacifc Ocean, Stinson Beach (1994), the meeting of sea and sky is reduced to a vision of near-monochrome abstraction. A quivering formal structure is revealed under a delicate beam of moonlight that illuminates the shadowy atmosphere. Sugimoto reduces his depiction of the sea to these two fundamental elements, creating an image that transcends temporal indications and disorients geographic locality. The photograph forms part of Sugimoto’s monumental series of Seascapes, characterized by muted compositions framed to depict the sea and air in a state of pure tranquillity, undisturbed by human activity, or indications of time and place. From ocean to ocean, the Seascape images return water and air to their primordial and spiritual state. Sugimoto derives inspiration from the perceived immutability of the sea, explaining that ‘I asked myself, “Can someone today view a scene just as primitive man might have done?” ... Although the land is forever changing its form, the sea, I thought, is immutable. Thus began my travels back through time to the ancient seas of the world’ (H. Sugimoto, quoted in Hiroshi Sugimoto, exh. cat., Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2005, p. 109). Sugimoto’s N. Pacifc Ocean, Stinson Beach condenses the elemental forces of life and the experience of time into a single esoteric image of an ocean shrouded in darkness.