Hiroshi Sugimoto: Lost Human Genetic Archive

@ TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC ART MUSEUM
Sep. 3—Nov. 13, 2016
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Hiroshi Sugimoto is an artist, based in New York since the 1970s, who uses a large-format camera to produce minutely detailed photographic series, such as his ‘Dioramas’, ‘Theaters’, ‘Seascapes’, etc., for which he has received international acclaim. The exhibition features several series, including the first Japanese showing of his ‘Lost Human Genetic Archive'. 

The exhibition starts by presenting 33 scenarios describing the end of civilization. With Sugimoto’s text, ‘Today the world died. Or maybe yesterday’, in hand, the viewer can walk around installations based on history or civilization in which ‘the idealist’, ‘the comparative-religion scholar’ and ‘the astrophysicist’ have been reduced to relics. This is the new, Tokyo version of a work that received high acclaim when it was first shown at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) in 2014, and comprises of his own work, antiques, fossils, and books or historical material collected by the artist. 

In this window, I consider 11 scenarios of the “Lost Human Genetic Archive”. Text with a PINK coloration comes directly from Sugimoto's writing on each scenario. Photography in the exhibition was prohibited. 

The design of the exhibition and featured content feels like a mixed-media archive, content ranges from strange vials [possibly containing incense?] to robotic lobsters. It reminds me of scientific museums, if they were blasted by a nuclear weapon. In this regard, I feel the artwork would lose some power if only certain components were shown in a group exhibition format. It would require a lot of reframing. With this in mind, I view the entire exhibition as one artwork, a time-based installation. 

Although Sugimoto is primarily categorized as a photographer, this exhibition contains so many moving parts and elements that it can’t be classified as one specific medium. The showing of this work in Tokyo is a return home, it considers how Tokyo is changing and what the future might hold. My writing below is pretty free-form, containing thoughts on art, technology, death and other things. The objects in each scenario are also listed in a format akin to role-playing videogames where items are precious and collected obsessivley. Since it is the end of the world, try to imagine images based on the item lists provided in each text. 

View to a specific scenario:
The beekeeper // The paleobiologist // The politician // The militarist // The art historian // The computer repair company CEO // 
The meteorite collector // The journalist // The robot engineer // The contemporary artist // The escapist

THOUGHTS:

How do young and emerging media artists view the end of the world?

How do we view the end of the digital world?

Is technology speeding up or slowing down our demise?

Why did Sugimoto not include a section regarding race?

What topics would emerge if the exhibition travels to other locations?