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Using The Past To Confronfront Important Issues

994 words - 4 pages

Contemporary Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto works to address contemporary issues while using ideas, concepts, and materials from his heritage. He was born in Tokyo in 1948. Graduating from Saint Paul’s University, Tokyo in 1970, he then traveled to Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles California to finish his education in 1974. Sugimoto primarily works as a photographer, but he also works as an architect and a designer. Artwork by Sugimoto is comparable to the Shinto shrines, Buddhist art and Shino wares used in the tea ceremony. His work reveals that his Japanese heritage has strongly influenced him. Hiroshi Sugimoto uses ideas and materials from his heritage, while confronting contemporary issues, such as the need to go back to traditional roots, honoring and preserving the past.
Commissioned to design a Shinto shrine Hiroshi Sugimoto uses concepts, traditions and materials from heritage to design the shrine. The Go-Oh Shrine was first built in the Muromchi period. Instead of replicating the original shrine, Hiroshi sought to build the shrine to follow the ancient Japanese Shinto worship tradition. The site consists of three parts, the Worship Hall, the Main Sanctuary, and the Rock Chamber. One takes a journey through the shrine. The massive rock slab is where the local kami would visit. What is known as the “stairway of light” connects the celestial and earthbound realms. Once one reaches the bottom of the stairwell they are in the chamber that represents ancient time. Then walking through a hallway represents a journey to returning to the present. One emerges from the shrine and sees a view of the sea, and this view serves to represent the present. This Shinto shrine is significant for three reasons. First, the Go-Oh shrine is similar to the Main hall, Amaterasu shrine, Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Both Shrines serve a religious purpose. Additionally, the shrines are made out of the same materials, and builders used the same methods to construct them. Another, reason why this shrine is important is that Hiroshi Sugimoto used ideas from his heritage to design the shrine. He studied the religion, designed the shrine so that it would be similar to the earliest Shinto shrines in Japan. In addition, when designing this shrine, Hiroshi Sugimoto studied the beliefs of Shintoism; he found the ideas of, paying homage to ancestor, importance of nature, and the idea of purification to be significant. Hiroshi confronts the contemporary issue of preserving time. He believes that it is important to preserve time and not forget about things past. Designing the shrine and photographing it, is preserving not only the ancient structure, but also the ancient Shinto ideals. By designing this shine, Hiroshi is confronting the contemporary issue of returning to traditional roots. He uses ideas from the religion, such as purification, importance of nature, and paying homage to ancestors to go back to these older ideas that are sometimes absent in...

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