Over eons, humankind slowly awoke from an animal state,
moving from insentience to consciousness.
I picture the first human endowed with consciousness gazing out upon the sea.
I picture the same sea after the human race has died out.
It is placid, serene, indifferent.

— Hiroshi Sugimoto, from the postscript to On the Beach

This master of photography from Japan continues his creative output in this volume with pictures from deserted beaches in New Zealand. On one particular deserted beach, he discovered hundreds of car parts, probably from the 1960s, disintegrated and corroded by decades under the waves. Photographing them individually, he imagined that human civilization had ended. This series of hyper-refined black-and-white images of decaying metal on the sand are reproduced in this large-format photo book, accompanied by an introspective text by Sugimoto on the nature of the sea and the inexorable, practically incomprehensible, passage of time.

He writes in this introduction:

"The sight of crafted objects rotting away is at once dreadful and beautiful. Time foments corrosion. It does not take long for civilization to decay. Just a few decades are enough for a car, one symbol of our modern civilization, to decompose into nothing."

It's a beautiful book, beckoning you to return again and again to get lost in thought, appreciation and mediation.


On The Beach
Hiroshi Sugimoto
Publisher: Amana, 2014
Paperback: 68 pages