The eye is an orb, an aquatic jewel with an aqueous humor lens.
The earth is an orb, an aquatic jewel washed in oceanic tides.
Between these two watery spheres, we place another: an aquatic jewel of glass.
Connected right behind your eyeballs, your brain generates consciousness. Through the watery spheres of your eyes, your consciousness projects upon the world as its screen.
This installation is modelled after your relationship to the world. The world just happens to be around.
Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2011
A special exhibition from Hiroshi Sugimoto at the 2011 Yokohama Triennale has his optical glass sculpture Five Elements (2011) erected between our watery eyeballs and his seascape photograph Lake Superior, Cascade River (1995).
Also on display here are meteorites, including this fine specimen that was one of several meteoric iron fragments discovered in 1838 in modern day Namibia. Nearly solid iron with minute traces of other elements, these would in the mid-twentieth century help to accurately establish the age of the universe (4.5 billion years) in accordance with the Big Bang Theory.
In the last room is the same pairing of Sugimoto’s electricity-photography experiments with the thirteenth-century sculpture of the Japanese god of thunder that I wrote about for the Sydney Biennale last year. As part of the Yokohama Triennale, the photographer / antique dealer / curator – who is now turning his hand at sculpture, architecture and traditional Japanese performing arts – also directed a Bunraku production and designed the sets for a Noh performance.
Sugimoto’s movements across and between temporalities including pre-modern Japan, the global contemporary and the pre-historic cosmos indicate a continuous exploration of continuity, and an approach to history and time as, to borrow Michel Serres’ handkerchief analogy (in Conversations on Science, Culture and Time), “folded and crumpled” rather than “flat and ironed out”.