The ancient memory between sky and earth

Enoura Observatory





Contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto spent 10 years to seek the best location for building Enoura Observatory; thereupon, he spent another 7 years to build the Observatory, which was finally opened in October this year.

Enoura Observatory is located in Odawara, a place where Sugimoto feels connected to intimately. As told by the artist himself, “I owe a lot to Odawara”, precisely because his earliest childhood memory was set on the journey in the Shōnan train, where he looked outside of the window gazing at the ocean tides — this, is where his heart lies. Many of Sugimoto’s works are related to memory. His usual works use his own memory as a departure point to connect himself with the collective memory of the others through photography and installation art. Instead of using his conventional media, this time Sugimoto created a project with a greater scale, which is an entire building.

Enoura Observatory is located in Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, overlooking Sagami Bay. The facility features a gallery space, a noh stage, a tea ceremony room, and some other rooms. Among all the rooms and space in the Observatory, the one that attracts the most attention is the “optical glass stage”. Glass is used as the flooring, on the day of winter solstice, the sun rises from Sagami Bay and when it shines its light on the glass floor, the building will turn into an artistic extension of the ocean where the two appear to be seamlessly connected. On the other side of the building is a 12-meter gallery space extending towards the ocean that is constructed upon a cliff. Visiting the gallery during summer solstice, you can get a feeling of floating in the sun.

“At the dawn of history, when the ancients first gained self-awareness, their first step was to search for and identify the place they occupied within the vastness of the starry firmament. This search for meaning and identity was also the primal force behind art. The winter solstice, when new life is reborn; the summer solstice, when the great pendulum of the seasons swings back again; the spring and autumn equinoxes, milestones at the midpoint between extremes. I believe that if we turn once more to our ancient observation of the heavens, we will find glimmers that point the way to our future.” Enoura Observatory, situated between sky and earth, provides us a place to reexamine our existence.