Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hiroshi Sugimoto and U2

Last night, my 9 year old son and I joined 70,000 of our closest friends for an evening at Giants Stadium with U2. Most photography collectors will of course know that the cover of U2's most recent album, No Line on the Horizon, is a Hiroshi Sugimoto seascape, albeit with a giant grey equals sign superimposed on top. (Cover art at right, via Amazon.)

As the band began to sing the title song, Bono said a quick thank you to Sugimoto, and then the seascape came up on the giant, 360 degree video screen that hovered above the stage (the entire set up looked like a four legged alien spacecraft that had landed on the football field). As the song was played, the seascape continually morphed into a montage of bisected monochrome images that looked a little like Sugimoto's various seascapes, but didn't seem to be actual images by him.

What was surprising about all this was that after the song was over, and the band was transitioning into New Year's Day, Bono continued to talk about Sugimoto. He mentioned that Sugimoto was in the crowd, that he really wanted to thank him again, and that he was "a great artist". I can't really imagine that very many people in the crowd had any idea what he was talking about. But then I thought to myself: when was the last time the biggest rock star on the planet interrupted one of his signature songs in a stadium full of screaming people to give a shout out to a fine art photographer? There can't be any equivalent moment in the entire history of photography.

Or perhaps we were just witnessing an art royalty coronation: the rising of a rock star photographer.


Justin Morrison said...

Good for Hiroshi, he's a don.
Aren't Irish people are just so polite?!

phototristan said...

He only did that because he was in the crowd. All other nights the photographer goes unmentioned.

Paul Bennett said...

@phototristan That could very well be true, but I don't think it detracts from the moment any. If anything, him being in the crowd makes it more exciting for everyone. Thanking someone who is not in the crowd, while certainly classy, can also sound hollow and perfunctory with enough repetition.

Pat Morrissey said...

Make Bono pay tax.

Anonymous said...

Bono is such a pompous arse isn't he?