Unchanged: Seascapes

Akron Art Museum
2 min readAug 1, 2020


The photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto asked himself “What would be the most unchanged scene on the surface of the earth?” He answered this question with a series of seascapes from around the world, each half sky and half water.

Tasman Sea, Ngarupupu, Hiroshi Sugimoto, (Tokyo, 1948 — ), 1990, Selenium toned gelatin silver print, 16 1/2 in. x 21 3/8 in. (41.91 cm x 54.29 cm), Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media, 1998.18

On the one hand, Sugimoto’s seascapes look abstract — they harness delicate balances of dark and light, of top and bottom, and of nuanced whites, grays and blacks.

But, on the other hand, they are full of specific details, and the artist pointedly titles each after the location where it was taken (in this case, the Tasman Sea lies between Australia and New Zealand).

It is as if Sugimoto shows a particular sea on a particular day, and, at the same time, every “unchanged” sea that has ever been.

Sugimoto traveled all around the world to take his pictures of seascapes. If you could take a trip like that, what single sort of place or object would you want to chase around the globe? What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you look at a great expanse of water like the Tasman Sea?