Hermes Transforms Polaroids Into Scarves
Hermes recently released their third iteration of Hermes Editeur, a limited edition set of scarves conceived through a collaboration with an artist. This edition features Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto and his series “Colors of Shadow”, in which he took Polaroids of Tokyo sunrises over the course of a year.
At first glance, his series of Polaroids strikes a “So what?” feeling, but when you read into the full nature of the project, you come to realize the artistic intent and lengths Sugimoto went to to capture each frame. “From late-2009 to the beginning of 2010, my daily routine saw me rise at 5:30 every morning. First thing, I would check for hints of light dawning above the eastern horizon. If the day promised fair weather, next I would sight the ‘morning star’ shining to the upper right of the nascent dawn. Depending on how bright Venus appeared, I could judge the clarity of the air that day. Tokyo is clear almost every day in winter thanks to the prevailing seasonal west-high/east-low pressure patterns. Only then did I ready my old Polaroid camera and start warming up a film pack from the long winter night chill.”
Sugimoto made a custom light-splitting box to achieve the looks of his frames, which he breaks down as follows. “Sunlight travels through black empty space, strikes and suffers my prism, and refracts into an infinite continuum of colour. In order to view each hue more clearly, I devised a mirror with a special micro-adjusting tilting mechanism. Projecting the coloured beam from a prism onto my mirror, I reflected it into a dim observation chambre where I reduced it to Polaroid colours. Of course, I could further split those prismatic colours by adjusting the angle of that long tall mirror so as to reflect only the hue I want. I could split red into an infinity of reds. Especially when juxtaposed against the dark, each red appears wondrous unto itself.”
Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Artistic Director for Hermes, explains, “For the third edition of the Hermès Editeur project, I chose to call on the talent of Hiroshi Sugimoto, an important Japanese artist whose discovery was a profoundly moving aesthetic experience for me. The images exuded a sensation of silence and a poetic power, a purity that particularly moved me. When I visited his studio in Tokyo, Hiroshi Sugimoto showed me his project Colours of Shadow. I remember it very clearly: at the centre of a large, light-filled room, rising like a column from floor to ceiling, there stood a crystal prism of immaculate clarity. This was an experimental device whereby, every morning, the sunlight passing through the prism would create a world of colours, projected like shadows on the white walls of the studio. A chromatic epiphany in Polaroid that the artist suggested we could capture on our silk scarf. Out of this came 20 subtle variations, all different, printed in giant format.”
You can see the full series of scarves over at the Hermes Editeur website.