IMAGES: SIGNS AND PHENOMENA OF TIME

A trans- and interdisciplinary conference at the University of Hamburg

12—14 November 2015

Intermedial Strategies for the Representation of Time at Hiroshi Sugimoto


Assuming, with media theorists like Dieter Mersch, that media usually disappear behind that what they represent, special artistic strategies are required that center the medium itself. According to Sybille Krämer, this principle of “aesthetic neutrality” of media can be breached, when one medium is transferred into another by using strategies of intermediality. Through the superposition and interlacing of media, disruptions, transformations and paradoxes are created that enable a reflection on these media. Using the example of Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs, I suggest that this is especially relevant for the implications of time of the appearing media.
In Sugimoto’s series Theaters (1975-2001) and Drive-In Theaters (1993-1994), a blank screen appears in the center of each photograph since the theatres were exposed over the length of a whole film screening. At first glance the Dioramas (1975-1999) show images of rare animals and primeval creatures in their natural habitat. Similarly the photographs of the Wax Museums series (1994-1999) apparently show famous people. In the Portraits series (1999) Sugimoto extended this practice and staged wax figures like portrait paintings. Whereas the Theaters represent all of the moving images from one film in the sill photographic image, Sugimoto stages, in the other series, wax figures and dioramas in a way that they appear as images of living people and animals from a time when photography hadn’t even been invented. The representation of time in the media that Sugimoto superimposes becomes the subject of the work itself. I would like to analyze this by means of film theories such as the apparatus theory as well as with theories of photography from a semiotic and phenomenological view. Thus, I would like to argue how semiotic and phenomenological approaches converge in the concept of intermediality.


Idis Hartmann (*1983 in Ulm) studied law and art history at the University of Tübingen as well as art history and theory and film studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. In 2010, she was a research assistant at the Kunsthistorische Institut Tübingen. From 2010 to 2013 she worked as curatorial assistant and at the publication department at the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe. From 2013 to 2015 she was scientific assistant of Peter Weibel at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. Currently she is the curatorial assistant of the artistic director Peter Weibel at the lichtsicht 5 Projection Biennale in Bad Rothenfelde.

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