In my final dissertation for my BA I questioned whether every day objects or everyday life could be considered sublime. The study defines the sublime in contemporary terms as a fundamentally transformational experience of order and disorder in which the stability of what we think we know is disrupted (Morley, 2010, p.12). Writer George Perec (b.France, 1936-1982) describes the everyday as “the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual” (1978, p.12). This ordinariness has potential for disruption when everyday objects are used in extraordinary ways, which creates these overwhelming feelings.
I wanted to understand how the art movement, Sublime, started and whether the human race is taking everyday life for granted. My conclusion in the art sense was that everyday objects, grouped together or arranged in a certain way would be in fact considered sublime. I choose this subject to help me with my personal practise in creating a modern day sublime. I want to recreate the thoughts and feelings I get when looking at such artist as what I have looked at in this essay. I enjoy working with and studying The Everyday as I like the idea of creating something sublime from something other people would normally dismiss.
In my first chapter I wrote about the everyday and how it can become extraordinary. In conclusion I have argued that using everyday objects in unusual conditions within the art gallery enables them to transcend banality and become something more. Further the fact that both artists exhibit large numbers of otherwise valueless, ordinary objects furthers this change of identity. In response to the works, which overwhelm the viewer, they experience awe, shock and surprise as the objects lose their function as both a useless, valueless pile of refuse in Song Dong’s case, chairs in Salcedo’s. Instead the everyday transcends into the realm of the sublime as the viewer struggles to comprehend and rationalize the objects. In this transcendence I have argued for a theory of the urban sublime, extraordinary, expansive displays of ordinarily singular and uninteresting objects make awesome and wonderful.
I was luckily enough to go see this exhibition in the Barbican, in London. The shear mass of the objects was mind blowing and even though their was a lot to read about the objects it still left you with more questions. For example, how was all the objects transported to London from China, how many actual objects were there and what will happen to the objects after their purpose has been for filled.
For my final major project I wanted to connect the 18th century Sublime practised by such artists as John Martin and William Turner. In this time era only the rich could travel, the everyday individual may have only travelled to the next village to trade but didn't know about how huge the world was or what was beyond the horizon. When artists started painting these huge mountains, angry seas and exploding volcano’s, things the average person would have never even thought about it made the viewer understandably feel small, overwhelmed and in awe. It thought people the world they have been living in was far bigger and greater than what they once knew. This was also linked to the idea of God, how mighty he is and how small you are.
Now we can just Google a place and travel all over the world while sitting in one chair and moving our finger tips. I wanted to create a modern day sublime. As the original sublime was about the unknown I wanted to create the same fear and awe William Turner did in the 18th century. I did this by connecting the viewer to how huge a wonderful the world wide web is. Most of us know how to use it and in that modern day we have to face it to communicate, world and create money to survive. We use it to learn, organise and even shop.
With this idea I wanted my viewer to realise the extent of their use of technology and the internet, the freedom it gives us but I also wanted them to question whether it was taking our human instincts away or even trapping us in a scientific, unevolving society today.
I created a few art pieces from this theory one, an installation where I collected everyday objects, painted them white and hung them on string to represent that the internet was connecting us like the string on tin cans used as phones but we was taking advantage of it and not seeing the full amazing technology behind it. The objects were to represent everyday life being lift behind the more me put ourselves on line and being in a virtual world.
Two, I created another installation piece were I created a geometric shape on the computer, the “perfect” shape with straight lines and accurate circles. I printed it off and framed it to give the computers version of “perfection” true meaning and a statues of excellence. I than I tried to recreate it in my own calligraphy using stick and ink and Japanese paintbrushes. I crumpled up my many recreations of the geometric shapes to make the viewer question whether the human version, being to pure with mistakes, is better or worse than the sublime but simple with no personality, computers version.
I do not currently have the image for this as my “perfect” computer has died and I can not as present retrieve anything that has been saved on it until I pay money to fix it.
Three, I created a computer game. In the game you start off in a room with four corridors you can explore, each corridor will take you back to where you started, one of the corridor has a locked door and one has a key that does not open the door. This is to represent the question, could we be stuck in technology? Stuck in the evolutionary stage and loosing our selves in gaming and social media.
The viewer is meant to get frustrated and confused by the game as its tricking them into thinking there’s a way out if they just keep paying the game but there is no way of completing the game and its a huge waste of time. I am in no way saying technology is a waste of time and I believe technology is now our way of evolving but some people might argue the way in which people choose to use it might be considered a waste it time.
With this I would like to continue the with the these theories and apply it to what I have learnt since graduation. I have become very political as a grow older with the media and what the average person understands of the world. The rich and the poor, the educated and the social net workers. I would like to create some illustrations from this but this is not my main priority. My main focus would be to understand technology more, maybe learn to code and create unbelievable things through technology. I have in the past made my own computer using a Raspberry Pi. It wasn’t very advanced but I can surf the internet on it. I'd like to go further with this and reach others with the amazing things I've discovered.
Georges Perec (1978) Life: A User's Manual, London: Vintage.
Simon Morley (2010) The Sublime, London & Massachusetts: MIT & Whitechapel Gallery.