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UA Walker Theater, New York from Theaters
This is an image from Sugimoto's...open-ended series Theaters, begun in 1978. Illusion, concrete experience, and notions of time...characterize these photographs. For nearly four decades, Sugimoto used a large-format camera to photograph movie theater interiors in the light of a projected film. He captured the lavish interior decor of American movie theaters of the 1920s and 1930s, setting up his 8 x 10 inch view camera under the projection booth on the balcony in a dark, deserted auditorium. He set the timer for an exposure as long as the length of a feature film, opened the shutter and had the projectionist run the film. In the final photograph, the individual images of the film are canceled out in their aggregation, leaving only searing white light on the screen. The reflected light softly illuminates the rich architectural details of the empty theaters. In this way, Sugimoto photographed the duration of the film, capturing the passage of time, one of its essential components. The artist observed how the mood of a film is reflected in the brightness of the illumination: dazzling for an upbeat comedy, murky for a horror film.
from Acton, A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame: Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, 2019)