Another source of the sublime is infinity; if it does not rather belong to the last. Infinity has a tendency... Read More
Another source of the sublime is infinity; if it does not rather belong to the last. Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror, which is the most genuine effect, and truest test of the sublime. There are scarce any things which can become the objects of our senses, that are really and in their own nature infinite. But the eye not being able to perceive the bounds of many things, they seem to be infinite, and they produce the same effects as if they were really so. We are deceived in the like manner, if the parts of some large object are so continued to any indefinite number, that the imagination meets no check which may hinder its extending them at pleasure. Whenever we repeat any idea frequently, the mind, by a sort of mechanism, repeats it long after the first cause has ceased to operate. After whirling about, when we sit down, the objects about us still seem to whirl. After a long succession of noises, as the fall of waters, or the beating of forge-hammers, the hammers beat and the waters roar in the imagination long after the first sounds have ceased to affect it; and they die away at last by gradations which are scarcely perceptible. If you hold up a straight pole, with your eye to one end, it will seem extended to a length almost incredible. Place a number of uniform and equidistant marks on this pole, they will cause the same deception, and seem multiplied without end. The senses, strongly affected in some one manner, cannot quickly change their tenor, or adapt themselves to other things; but they continue in their old channel until the strength of the first mover decays. (1757) Edmund Burke The concept of the sublime in philosophical aesthetics and art history is mainly understood as the quality of greatness. Edmund Burke, an Irish-born philosopher, claimed that the sublime is the most powerful experience. He also argued that sublimity and beauty were mutually exclusive. Burke presented his theory that beautiful objects are small and delicate, while sublime ones are dark and terrifying. Fascinated by this concept, I have chosen a series of different-sized paintings which touch on themes of monumentality as an aura of greatness, and little beauties in our lives that are inseparable from their fragility. One of the sources of sublimity is infinity. Exploring the infinite, we experience a deeper, often unforgettable, sense of wonder. Here, the infinity is realized through cropped compositions, blackness, repetition, and the potential to evoke a mixture of emotions and feelings in the viewer. According to Burke, beauty brings relaxation and sublimity brings tension. The paradox of the sublime arises when we find peace in the things that overwhelm us. Both captivate us, despite the dangers. I decided to express the sublime and the infinite, referring to the sense and power of the image in the real world. Depriving it of details, a rather enigmatic selection of paintings evoke notions of the sublime as an aesthetic experience and a monumental vision that strikes the viewer with power and raises the boundless question of whether the sublime in art can coexist with beauty.