Friday, 22 April 2011

Sublime Landscape


'Wanderer in the mists' (1818) Caspar David Friedrich

'Untitled #2" (2002) Richard Misrach


'Untitled # 394-03' (2003) Richard

The Enlightenment was the creation of a new framework of ideas about man, society, and nature, which challenged existing conceptions rooted in a traditional world-view, dominated by Christianity (Hamilton, 1992). It started around about the 17th century and many argue it is still continuing today. It was a time where reason and rational thinking were introduced to understand the world through empiricism and human experience (Hooker, 1996).

2. Define the concept of the Sublime.
“The sublime” was defined in 1756 by the British statesman and political theorist Edmund Burke (1729-1797). The basis of Burke’s beliefs was that the life of feeling and spirit depended on a harmony within the larger order of the universe. The sublime therefore was the ultimate experience of divinity, a mixture of awe, fear and enlightenment produced by the contemplation of a powerful, terrifying nature (ALVC Resource Book, 2011). The elements of nature and divinity being god creating all in nature perfectly and beautifully are interlinked to landscape in which the sublime is often seen and portrayed in art.

3. How did the concept of the Sublime come out of the Enlightenment thought?
Within the time period of enlightenment thought, the ideas of empiricism and secularism arose. This meant that the natural world around people was studied and experienced, much of this being nature and landscapes. The association between the power of nature and a recognition of the divinity behind it was a constant theme in early Romantic writing (ALVC Resource Book, 2011). The writer  Wilhelm Wackenroder proclaimed that there exist only two languages through which God allows humans to comprehend the Divine; one of these is reserved for God alone... the second language having two components: “they are: nature and art” (ALVC Resource Book, 2011). From these ideas artists began focusing on landscapes as art themselves instead of picturesque backgrounds for other subject matter. They started filling the scenes with symbolic meanings of religious beliefs. Often in sublime art, figures are solitary and anonymous showing they could be anybody and their insignificance in the functioning of the world as a whole. They represent how the world goes on and functions without them and that ultimately they are small and overpowered by the divinity of nature. Sublime art often entices the viewer to take a place within the artwork and experience the sublime.

4. Discuss the subject matter and aesthetic (look) of Misrach's work to identify the Sublime in his work. Add some more images of his work.
Misrach’s works are photographs of human intervention in natural landscapes. They show small figures in huge majestic powerful settings that seem every bit as vulnerable as the world that they occupy (Ayers, 2008). He "paint[s] an elegant picture of the strangeness and upset balance of human activity in an alien landscpae" (Richard Misrach," 2005-2011). He takes photographs of desserts and oceans as they are “ultimate definition of the sublime because we’re in awe of it—its glory and its beauty—but it’s still really scary and dangerous” (Ayers, 2008). He started doing his works in this way when he “was drawn to the fragility and grace of the human figure in the landscape” (Risch, 2010). He was strongly influenced by the images that came out of the 9/11 World Trade Tower plane bombings and the fragility of the people involved and their powerlessness to stop it. He was also inwas also influenced by the1950s Cold War novel and film, On the Beach (Risch, 2010). They are sublime in their showing divinity through nature being landscapes and the smallness of one or more human beings in the scale of the world and the universe.


 Swimmers, Pyrammid Lake Indiana Reservation, Nevada, 1987-93 


 White Man Contemplating pyramids, Eygpt, 1989-1991

5. Identify some other artists or designers that work with ideas around the Sublime, from the Enlightenment era as well as contemporary artists.

Painting of St. Peter's Square in 1630 by Viviano Codazzi.
The huge scale of the building surrounded by tiny figures is reminiscent of the ideas of the sublime in art showing the awe and power of the building over human life.

Bridge near The Usk, by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Watercolour. England, 19th century.
J.M.W. Turner’s work shows the natural landscape that is symbolic of divinity on earth as was the idea of the sublime. I like this painting a lot and think that it does make you feel in awe of the landscape around you and the impressive scale of it all.

Luc Tuymans, The Walk 1993, Oil on canvas, 37x48cm
This work reminds me of Caspar David Friedrich 'Wanderer in the mists' showing the backs and mainly silhouette of the men looking out onto a vast distant landscape. Though the figures are large and obvious in the painting the power of the natural setting is greater than them, making them seem weak and fragile in balance to the landscape.

Pierre Huyghe, Still from One Million Kingdoms 2001, Video installation with sound, 7mins
I like this image from a video installation by Pierre Huyghe for its influence of the sublime but difference from it. The green tall digital projections appear like mountains and tower over the figure as they would in nature but having been digitally made create an interesting twist on the idea of the sublime in art.

6. How does Misrach's photography make you feel? Does it appeal to your imagination?
To me Misrach’s works make humans appear small in the scale of the world and insignificant. They are small dots in the entirety that is the universe and even the world. Individually they are alone and powerless against nature but together and in groups can overtake it and occupy/consume the world around them. it appeals to me in the way it portrays the world and nature as vast and open, as if the world is itself infinite with places that seem almost untouched by human hand such as 'Untitled # 394-03' (2003) as well as places completely dominated by human hand such as White Man Contemplating Pyramids in which the pyramids are manmade into the landscape.

7. Add a Sublime image of your choice to your blog, which can be Art or just a Sublime photograph.

Caspar Friedrich "Monk by the Sea" 1809

Katy Dick, “5:20”, 1.1.2011

Hamilton, P. (1992). The Enlightenment nad the birth of social science, in Hall, S. & Gieben B. (eds.), Formations of Modernity. Cambridge: Open University Press (pg.23)

Hooker, R. (1996).  The scientific revolution. Retrieved 21 February, 2006 from:

AUT University. (2011). ALVC1 Resource Book. Pg 109. The Tradition Invented: The Theory of the Sublime. Retrieved Decmeber 11, 2002 from

Richard Misrach(Copyright 2005–2011 Museum of Contemporary Photography)

Risch, C. (2010, January 28). Visions of the Decade: Richard Misrach’s On The Beach (5 Photos)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Links to Science and Reason

Still from Pipilotti Rist’s 'Ever is Over All' (1997) 

1. Define the 17th century 'Scientific Revolution', and say how it changed European thought and world view. 
The 17th century scientific revolution was a change in technological and natural science. It was a series of changes in the structure of European thought itself: systematic sciences advanced, and the view that the world functions like a machine arrived (Hooker, 1996). Medieval scientific philosophy was abandoned in favour of the new methods proposed by Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton; the importance of experimentation to the scientific method was reaffirmed; the importance of God to science was for the most part invalidated, and the pursuit of science itself (rather than philosophy) gained validity on its own terms (Kent, 2006). These methods greatly changed European thought and the view of the world affecting every other aspect of life, from individual life to the life of the group.The world become more logical, mathematical and scientific; understood through observation, experimentation and exploration over religious faith and following.

2. Give examples of how we can we still see evidence of the 'Scientific Revolution' in the world today.
Science in the world today surrounds us in so many ways. Basically everything we use, see, etc is a product of the methods and theories of science. Science provides a world view, a way of making sense out of the apparently random and meaningless experience of our lives (Kreis, 2002). In my opinion the fact that we see the world as revolving around the sun is evidence of the scientific revolution in the world today. The fact that we study science in schools as a subject on its own, and view science as a field of work and income shows how the scientific revolution is still impacting the world today. The religious view of Scientology is evidence of the scientific revolution in today’s society and scientific experimentation to improve our lives and make our lives easier is an ongoing product of the revolution today.

Research Pipilotti Rist's video installations to answer the following;
3. From your research, do you think that the contemporary art world values art work that uses new media/technology over traditional media?
i think that in the contemporary art world it is hard to escape from the new media and technological art that is being produced and shown as art. I think some people are sceptical towards it having a fixed preset idea of what is and isn’t art. I think growing up in a technological and media influenced society, younger generations would be more open to for instance video as art and accept it as art. The concept of art being anything with a creative process behind it, as has been discussed in CADI, mean that video as art should be embraced as a progressive step forward in artistic expression. The overarching acceptance on the part of museum curators of video's relevance and expressive potential points not only to prevailing sentiments about the creative promise of technology, but also reflects and simultaneously taps into the most marketable constituents of the current art/museum-going public (Lane, 2003).  

4. How has Pipilotti Rist used new media/technology to enhance the audience's experience of her work.
Through the use of media/technology Rist is able to show two moving images simultaneously that blend and create the full effect she wants. They enhance the experience for the viewer greater than if the two videos had been shown by themselves without the other. Ever Is Over All envelops viewers... [Creating a] spellbinding lull (“the Museum of Modern Art,” 2006-7). She has fulfilled the roles of director, producer, and singer for this video (Long, 1999) gaining complete control over the outcome that the artworks audience will get to experience as the final result. Using technology she has manipulated media to show exactly what she wants seen and in a way to create a reaction in the viewer as she desires. Showing the video within the space of an entire room forces he work onto the viewer creating a relationship between the media and viewer immediately and require[ing] active audiences to immerse themselves directly in her work (Long, 1999).

5. Comment on how the installation, sound and scale of 'Ever is Over All' (1997) could impact on the audience's experience of the work.
As i said above the fact that the installation occupies the entire room covering 2 whole walls in projections, i think could be seen as intimidating but with the effect of the sound accompanying the image of the woman and the flowers could be very entertaining and meaningful.  Occupying so much space it would be hard to take it in all at once so the viewer would have to stand back for a few minutes to fully understand the installation and thus achieving sending the message Rist is making through her work.

6. Comment on the notion of 'reason' within the content of the video. Is the woman's behaviour reasonable or unreasonable?
Ever is Over All (1997) is on one wall a slow motion portrayal of a young woman walking down a car-lined street, smashing the windows of the parked cars with a large hammer in the shape of a tropical flower as she passes. On the other wall images of flowers swaying in a field are projected, occasionally overlapping the first image, as the woman moves along laughing and smashing glass shattering everywhere.  An approaching police officer smiles in approval, introducing comic tension into this whimsical and anarchistic scene (“the Museum of Modern Art,” 2006-7). I think the woman in the video’s behaviour is unusual as she seems so peaceful and happy then slightly violent smashing to pieces cars. I like it purely because who hasn’t walked past something and felt like smashing it just because you can? I think her behaviour is reasonable in terms of creating the installation, though in real society she would be looked at with concerned glances and somebody would stop her and probably ring the cops. The fact that in the video an officer walks by and smiles shows its not real society because they would have stopped her or someone walking by would have asked what she was doing and why.

7. Comment on your 'reading' (understanding) of the work by discussing the aesthetic (look), experience and the ideologies (ideas, theories) of the work.
I like the work especially the fact it is so massive. It’s like standing right up close to a movie screen bent around a corner. The bright and contrasting colours draw attention to what is going on in the video and are pleasant to look at and invite the viewer to take their time watching it. I think getting to experience it close up in the room spread out across the walls would impose the artists’ idea of the woman and her actions as defying masculinity and femininity in society clearly. The sheer size of installation confined in a small space creates a unique experience like Ron Mueck’s gigantic sculptures unable to be taken in just one glance.

Hooker, R. (1996).  The scientific revolution. Retrieved 21 February, 2006 from:

Kent, J. (2006, January 10). The Impact of the Scientific Revolution: A Brief History of the Experimental Method in the 17th Centur.

Kreis, S. (2002) The History Guide: lectures on Early Modern European History: lecture 10: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1600.

Lane, R. (2003). Guilty Pleasures: Pipilotti Rist and the Psycho/Social Tropes of Video.

The Museum of Modern Art: Out of Time: A Contemporary View: August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007.

Long, V. (1999).Cindy Sherman + Pipilotti Rist: the Writing of the Feminine.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Artists Status

1. Identify aspects of Durer's self portrait that show a changing view of the artist's view of himself as an individual. 

Self Portrait in Fur Coat (1500), Albrecht Durer
Dürer seemed fascinated by his own image. He was well aware of his audience and painted his image to project an air of importance, to create perhaps, an increased social status (the self-portrait as a projection of self, ). The picture is proudly inscribed: 'Thus I, Albrecht Durer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colours at the age of 28 years' (Albrecht Durer, This shows his opinion of himself as an individual and unique from other artists. It also promotes himself as an artist by stating that he painted it and it’s his work, done his way.  His changing view of himself as an individual and an artist can be seen as in this showing how he thinks of himself as an important individual and a talented artist. He is not just an ordinary artist like everyone else; he is special and can produce art in a certain style and way, unique and different. He has portrayed himself in “imitation Christi”, in imitation of Christ. Durer deliberately set out to create a Christ-like image as a was a statement of faith, (Albrecht Durer, which shows his individual religious views. Portraying himself in a likeness to Christ he acknowledges his religion and his beliefs as well as showing his belief that his artistic skills were a God-given talent.

2. Explain how the artist's social status increased during the Renaissance period. Briefly explain why this happened.
During the Renaissance a revival of classical texts and art led to the discovery of theses on mathematical and scientific ways to composition and construct an artwork. As these were techniques and methods were applied in art making and required intellectual thought, painters, sculptors and architects wanted to attain recognition for their professions as liberal arts. This meant that their work was not just a craftsman skill but also required intelligence and the implementation of scientific methods. With their new scientific methods they began to claim superiority over mere craftsmen, and tried to establish for themselves a better social position (Blunt, A. 1962). This meant that there was a crucial shift from the artists as mere artisan belonging to a craft guild to the artist as a creative and learned personality, admired not just for acquired skills but also for innate ability what we might today call creative genius (Barker et al, 1999). There was a high value on imagination, originality, spontaneity, creativity and self-expression and that art should reflect the individual sensibility of the creator. The rising status of the artist during the Renaissance was a kind of reaction to the loss of any precise social function for art and resulting in the marginalization of the artists (Barker et al, 1999). Artist of the time began asserting an individual reputation that set them apart from other members of their profession. The idea of belonging to a guild or workshop as a fundamental unit of production, with works being more or less collaboration, began to deteriorate as shown by Francesco del Cassa’s complaint of all artist working on a set of fresco paintings for the Duke at the Schifanoia Palace were being paid by the same rate per square foot of wall regardless of reputation. Cenneno Cennini’s treatise of how apprenticeships shouldn’t be where new artists copy another artists work to create a uniform workshop style but so that the aspiring artist should eventually develop his own individual style had a large impact on the social status of the artist (Barker et al, 1999). However the attainment of status cannot simply be attributed to individual ‘greatness’ of an artist. A crucial role was played by transformations in artistic patronage during the Renaissance, when the expanding power and wealth of Italian rulers such as the Medici were taking place enabling artists to escape from control of guilds and work as court artists, creating a name for themselves as individuals with their own style.

3. Comment on Gavin Turk's work in relation to individualism, status of the artist and egotism.
Knob (1997) Gavin Turk
Gavin Turk’s work shows individualism through the use of his name alone. No one else has his name and it is individual in itself as a symbolic representation of him. Reading the name on the screen print you automatically think about that person whose name it is and why they chose to portray their name in such a way.  He considers this work portraiture (British Council, 2009) By printing his name as this artwork he is attempting to validate his importance to society (British Council, 2009, Gavin Turk (1967-) his themes of authorship, authenticity and identity, often lead to him casting himself as the main subject of his work. This shows his opinion of his status as an artist as an important person and also of his egotism of his love for himself and thoughts of high priority in society. (British Council, 2009, Gavin Turk (1967-) it shows status of the artist and his want for recognition for his artwork and society to think him accomplished and as a high ranking artist.

4. Comment on Damien Hirst's use of his work and the media for self promotion.
Damien Hirst and Maia Norman (1995)
For Damien Hirst “it is the recognition... that counts.” He feels sorry for artists like Van Gogh, whose works never sold until he was dead and became famous (Brooks, 2010). He seems to crave fame and acknowledgement over people thinking he is an amazing and talented artist. He uses his work which is often controversial to get his name out there and known. The more objection and controversy the more the media will pick up on it and spread his name around society and get him to the status of a household name and British art icon. For instance his Two F***ing and Two Watching, a rotting cow and bull, was banned in New York for fears of ‘vomiting among the visitors” (Encyclopedia of Art, 2011). He never does anything quietly, always in the media and promoting his name out there.

5. Find 2 images of work by artists or designers that reflects some of the ideas of individualism, self promotion or egotism that have been discussed on this blog.
These designs are by fashion designers Yves Saint Lauren and Louis Vuitton. They like Turk’s screen Print show individualism by the use of their own names on most designs they produce. They also show self promotion as when seen in society the designer can be identified straight away from just looking at the design. They promote the brand and name behind it whenever seen. The idea of people buying a work purely based on the name associated with it as is such in the world of fashion promotes egotism. It makes the designer a house hold name based not necessarily on design or function but by name and media coverage based on popularity.

6. How do you think artists and designers are viewed in Western society today?
I think art and design is a crucial part of western society. It is why we like what we buy, use, have, etc. We may have it because we like the design, name associated or functionality of the piece created. Artists are viewed, I think, a little more creative and ‘artsy’ than designers in society but I feel that designers include art into their designs and are as much artists as painters or sculptors.

·         The self-portrait as a projection of self.

·         Blunt, A. (1962) The Social Position of the Artist. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

·         Barker, E., Webb, N. & Woods, K. (1999). Historical introduction: the idea of the artist. In Barker, E., Webb, N. & Woods, K. (eds.), The Changing state of the Artist (pp. 7-25). London: Open University.

·         British Council. (2009) Gavin Turk.

·         British Council. (2009) Gavin Turk (1967 −.

·         Brooks, R. (2010, March 28). It’s the fame I crave, says Damien Hirst.

·         Encyclopedia of Art. (visited 2011) Damien Hirst (b1965).