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Author Topic: More Sublime  (Read 4433 times)

Tim Lookingbill

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2016, 06:04:58 PM »

Glorifying destruction of the natural environment is what I'm understanding from your links. It's like rubberneckers at a car wreck, they just can't look away and they don't know why but the wreck just looks so interesting. They don't know if they should be ashamed or entertained which makes it even more compelling. A viscous loop of complacency and voyeurism talking to an ape mind thinking there's more to it.

Mat, from what you've indicated I'm getting the impression you can't effectively define and communicate to yourself the meaning of or the ability to recognize sublime in art.
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mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2016, 01:33:59 AM »

Hi Tim

If that's what you see then that's what you see!

I'm not really giving the impression that I don't know what sublime is in relation to art, I'm asking outright, what people ideas of sublime are as it relates to art because I don't know, I have never until a few days ago heard of the idea, I can list off thousands of things I think of as sublime in the literal sense but that's not what the point of the discussion, if you can call it that.

Here is what the Tate say about it..

"What is the sublime?

The sublime evades easy definition. Today the word is used for the most ordinary reasons, for a ‘sublime’ tennis shot or a ‘sublime’ evening. In the history of ideas it has a deeper meaning, pointing to the heights of something truly extraordinary, an ideal that artists have long pursued.
Taking inspiration from the rediscovery of the work of the classical author the so-called ‘Pseudo-Longinus’ and from the writings of the philosopher Edmund Burke, British artists and writers on art have explored the problem of the sublime for over four hundred years."

If it has been a subject discussed for hundreds of years by philosophers and artists then it obviously doesn't have a specific definition, it's a concept, there have been artists and there are now photographers using the idea to classify their work, now I am reading more about it, I am starting to understand why they are doing that and why the notion of sublime is leading their work in a certain direction.

Anyway, if it is of no interest then it's not interesting.

Mat
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2016, 02:19:32 AM »

I'm not really giving the impression that I don't know what sublime is in relation to art, I'm asking outright, what people ideas of sublime are as it relates to art because I don't know, I have never until a few days ago heard of the idea, I can list off thousands of things I think of as sublime in the literal sense but that's not what the point of the discussion, if you can call it that.

Then if you don't know how others define sublime as it relates to art why are you so sure that it can't be defined in words from what you said here...

I still think my intention to discuss and learn about the concept of sublime in art is being confused with peoples perception as it relates to the dictionary definition, as in someones personal idea of something being so nice that it transcends in to sublime, not what I was talking about or wanting to get to know about, although the notion of creating something that you consider to be sublime in that sense is obviously a worthy endeavour.

You're making a word "sublime" seem allusive and mysterious as it is relates to art and want others to define it in those terms which contradicts what you want to know from others. We could say anything and it could go either way whether you agree or disagree because it's part of the undefinable as you perceive it in art. "What is the sublime"...The sublime evades definition"

That's going to be a tough conversation.

Why don't you tell us with specifics what you see and how you define sublime within the photos you linked to.
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2016, 02:38:16 AM »

Your words...

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In the history of ideas it has a deeper meaning, pointing to the heights of something truly extraordinary, an ideal that artists have long pursued.

How is that different from Google definition of the word...

Quote
1. of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.

Now a more interesting take would be to see how that concept is influenced by or related to the saying..."Things look different when photographed"...Or why am I looking at it? Oh, it must have something sublime about it.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 02:43:19 AM by Tim Lookingbill »
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mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2016, 03:07:48 AM »

I'm not sure it can be defined in the strict sense, in fact having read the things I linked to, I am sure it can't be defined with any certainty, but the nature of a discussion on art is that people can give their understanding as it relates to their own views and then through the process of discussion it is possible to learn things, expand your horizons and maybe think about things in a different way, I like that and have no problem with tough conversations, none of us are born with knowledge, we need to learn it, shared experiences and listening to others views are a good way.

Your previous post about black point, tonal variations etc. is how you chose to describe your understanding, I read that and can't relate to it personally in connection with the artistic idea of sublime, I can relate to it as your description of what you want to see and achieve with your work to create an image that you regard as sublime within your own definition of course, I still feel that they are different things.

Now I am reading things that refer to sublime I am forming opinions on what it relates to, and how it differs to a literal explanation of the word. For example, you could take a shot of your kids first smile or first steps, you would rightly feel that the image is sublime because of the feeling it gives you, you could even be in awe at the miracle of birth and development, new experiences etc. etc. What I am picking up from reading stuff is that mainly it refers to landscapes, traditionally it was vast alpine scenes, where the awe is leaning towards the frightening, the expanse, the power within the image, maybe it could be an image taken from a precipice, maybe the viewpoint is one that simply is so vast that it prompts "fear" as you realise how small you are in the big scheme of things. In modern stuff, the notion appears to have moved towards the industrial impact within nature, the dark influence of man for example as per the Burtynsky work but not limited to that, I have seen images of power stations billowing steam within otherwise pristine landscapes, vast areas levelled by mining etc. I am still only scratching the surface so far.

The reason this came up is that I got a comment on some work I produced with no concept of sublime, on a trip to Lofoten Islands recently, I was in awe of the landscape, obviously it is a stunning place, but more than that, what struck me was the fragility of life in the place, how hard it is now and how much harder it would have been hundreds of years ago without our modern amenities. The images I produced are not in any way dynamic enough to be considered sublime as in this context and certainly not in the dictionary definition, they are not pretty, they are dark and stark, the feeling I got from being there. But now I can see that what attracted me to the scenes that I photographed could lead me to look deeper at sublime and maybe influence what I photograph in the future. The small shack I photographed dominated by the mountain backdrop spoke to me at the time, I was amazed that someone could live there, a family could have been raised there, kids schooled, played outside in the 24hr darkness of winter and so on, maybe those feelings and the reason for taking the shot could lead me to learn new things. On the second day I was there, we had an enormous snow storm, I sat in the hotel bar looking out the window as the wind battered and the snow blew horizontally, the thought of the years that little house had stood there, the amount of storms the occupants would have witnessed under that tin room, I guess you could call that idea as frightening.

Anyway, I’m rambling again, this may not be the place to discuss this stuff, no harm done. If people have a view then it would be good to read how it differs from mine, or not as the case may be.
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photoenthusiasm

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2016, 03:46:19 AM »

Mat, thanks for sharing the information You collected. Probably it is not about the use and interpretation of one word, sublime. Up to now I am learning a lot and just read on where people argue beside the original question. You refer to your trip to Lofoten. Are these pictures on your website? It makes sense to compare peoples contrxt by having a look at the website of their own achievenents. Great work You have in your landscapes, so I am curiuos about the Lofoten remarks.
Charles
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"Good art should elicit a response of 'Huh? Wow!' as opposed to 'Wow! Huh?'" - Ed Ruscha
my pictures: photoenthusiasm on flickr.com

mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2016, 03:57:41 AM »

Hi Charles

I'm glad that you are getting something from this stuff, it's worthwhile if it allows us to look at new things.

There's nothing on my website from the last couple of years, been a bit busy so it has been neglected. I'm not keen to post images here but happy to send you a link to them if you'd like to see.

Cheers

Mat
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Sharon VL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2016, 10:55:40 AM »

Mat, I thought your original question was a good one. Unfortunately, it was followed by the usual argumentative chest-puffing.

i skipped a lot of posts here so this may have been said - I think the original critic might have used the word sublime to mean thoughtful.

Sharon

Sharon VL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2016, 11:07:23 AM »

Since Mat locked his thread, I will post this here:

Sublime = spectacular

Mat's shack = picturesque (barely)

This post was rude and uncalled for.

RSL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2016, 11:27:22 AM »

What I still can't understand is why Mat's so hung up on the word "sublime," which, standing by itself is as meaningless as "nice." In fact some people think those two words essentially are synonymous and that the difference is a matter of degree. Mat may need professional help to get to the bottom of this quest.

Sharon VL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2016, 11:32:05 AM »

What I still can't understand is why Mat's so hung up on the word "sublime," which, standing by itself is as meaningless as "nice." In fact some people think those two words essentially are synonymous and that the difference is a matter of degree. Mat may need professional help to get to the bottom of this quest.

Russ that was so rude and disdainful. I hate snide superiority.

Sharon VL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2016, 11:35:03 AM »

So I'll leave this whole section of LL to you guys. It's not worth reading. It shouldn't be called The Art of Photography.

RSL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #32 on: June 17, 2016, 11:39:51 AM »

Good idea, Sharon.

mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #33 on: June 17, 2016, 11:40:50 AM »

Russ, I'm not sure why but you seem anti the idea of expanding your knowledge or looking at different things, sublime as nice is not the same as sublime as it refers to the concept in art, it's that simple. You not understanding it is irrelevant to the subject as a whole, just leave it and forget about it. Your continued input is really not necessary, you have nothing positive to add.

Mat
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RSL

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #34 on: June 17, 2016, 12:01:17 PM »

Oh, I understand it but I'm not sure you do. What you're trying to describe as "sublime" is what I call a transcendental experience. What do you get from this, from Dylan?

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.

At face value it's gibberish, but it gives you a jolt that comes not from the denotations or even the connotations of the words themselves, but from the interstices between the images. It strikes me that that's what we're all striving for -- or should be striving for -- in our photographs. You can call it "sublimity" and I can call it a transcendental experience. Unless you want to play semantic games it's the same thing.

mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #35 on: June 17, 2016, 12:20:17 PM »

..Or you could just carry on regardless!

Look Russ, we are talking about different things, unless you are saying that the discussions of philosophers, artists, intellectuals over many years on the subject, despite galleries dedicating exhibitions to it, despite modern intellectuals studying the concept and writing papers on it, all along you had the secret to the entire thing. I can imagine you walking in to the midst of the discussions and just declaring proudly, arms aloft, lads, it just means nice, at which point Burke and his mates, the curators at the Tate and everyone else just sit back and go, wow he's right, lets go and grab a beer.

If that's what you are saying then sure, you've got it, end of conversation, many thanks.

I'm going to do us both a favour and remove the temptation to reply to you again by just ignoring you, I've only done that to 1 other person but honestly, you have absolutely nothing worth listening to and this acting like some strange geriatric bully, ridiculing and dismissing things that don't comply with your way of thinking is just boring.

Mat
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 01:29:46 PM by mjrichardson »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2016, 12:34:15 PM »

This post was rude and uncalled for.

Would you care to explain why, as the intention was anything but?

mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2016, 01:06:01 PM »

Whilst I wouldn't like to speak for Sharon, the (barely) is the thing I would consider to be rude, it's the sort of thing that is said venomously, it's a word you would spit out, so for me, she is correct, but I'm a big boy, it's not something I would lose sleep over. If you didn't mean it in that way then it's worth noting that it's how it came across.

Mat
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2016, 01:42:07 PM »

...  the (barely) is the thing I would consider to be rude...

Ah!

I said: "picturesque (barely)." In my understanding of English, that means that the picture is still picturesque, just on the lower and of the scale. It is still nice. I really do not see how saying that something is "still nice" is interpreted as rude, let alone "venomous." In other words, in order not to be perceived as "rude," one can only offer high praise?

I initially drafted the response without that qualifier, trying only to contrast "spectacular" vs. "picturesque." But there was one element that spoiled the pure "picturesque" feel for me (and some others): the metal roof. Hence the qualifier.

So let me explain why a contemporary roof spoils the picturesque feel.

In the already mentioned 20-page essay on sublime in landscape art, "picturesque" is described as, paraphrasing: "familiarized beauty, secure uniformity." Most of us are familiar (in arts) with huts with more natural, weathered, thatched roofs, thus introducing a more contemporary, metal version challenges our notion of picturesque. Hence "barely."




mjrichardson

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Re: More Sublime
« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2016, 01:53:18 PM »

Nope, saying the picture is on the lower end of the scale is not rude, and only saying things are nice is not necessary, it's the (barely) that is perceived as rude, as it appears as an addition with the express intention of diminishing the "picturesque". I think you know that though.

The term picturesque seems a little absurd to me in the context of the image, picturesque was the last thing on my mind when shooting it, definitely when processing it and certainly when displaying it, it is the opposite of picturesque, dark, bitter, lonely, the darks are dark and the composition was purposefully to give it a sense of being isolated from the beauty of the mountains, sure you can think of it as picturesque though if that's how you see it, it's no problem. For me as the photographer, the metal roof makes all the difference, it felt incredulous looking at it that it would offer protection, security or warmth in that environment.

What I have read about the subject, picturesque, pretty etc. is the opposite of the concept of the sublime, at least as I read it as a non expert on the subject, it may indeed be closer to the dictionary definition though.

Maybe this is of interest from a historical point of view?

https://blantonmuseum.org/files/american_scenery/sublime_guide.pdf
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