It's been one week after the spring break and here is a section of my conference style paper in which I refer to the big artist statement. This paper discusses the contemporary sublime in relation to Micheal Fried's essay, as regards to the notion of presentness and presence as he discussed in his argument art and object hood. Let me elaborate in the paragraphs below.
Presentness and Presence in relation to the contemporary sublime
Can one acknowledge the contemporary sublime as Fried’s notion of Presentness? What if the contemporary sublime is substituted as art, well it is art as well – technological art, and yet it cannot identify as presentness because it requires a physical contact to engage an individual. Michael Fried in his essay art and object hood, Pg. 832; In referring to Presentness as Grace he defines the later as ‘this continuous and entire presentness, amounting, as it were, to the perpetual creation of its self, that one experiences as a kind of instantaneousness. In the light of this, the contemporary sublime is not presentness because it cannot lead to the perpetual creation of itself, and one that cannot be experienced as a kind of instantaneousness. Thus, absorption is sacrificed and mindfulness cannot manifest because of an individual’s awareness of the viewing process and theatricality prevails. In correlation to my art objects, it is presentness and thus the function of this object is strengthened by the presence of the beholder.
What is the Contemporary Sublime?
Literally, the sublime can be described as an experience of grandeur greatness. Going back to the 18th-century formation of the art of the sublime, philosopher Immanuel Kant in his book The Critique of Judgment, established an argument based on Burke’s notion of the sublime as an experience incited from terror and pain. Kant argues that an experience can be terrifying and thus, sublime, without the beholder been afraid of it. In my opinion, our contemporary sublime is terrifying, without the contemporary beholder been afraid of it, especially the technological sublime. Eugenie Shinkle in her essay video games and the technological sublime argues that “Present-day formations of the sublime are routinely linked to the idea and appearance of technology. The Marxist literary critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson suggests that technology can only be theorized through the category of the sublime.
Technology, he argues, represents contemporary society’s other; it is a shorthand for ‘that enormous properly human and anti-natural power of dead human labor stored up in our machinery – an alienated power … which turns back on and against us in unrecognizable forms and seems to constitute the massive dystopian horizon of our collective as well as our individual praxis.’”
The technological sublime is a cultural condition; it is a banality which Eugenie Shinkle identifies in her essay video games and the technological sublime as the existential and material corollary excess. Bound with the material processes of commodity production, the banal goes hand in hand with superabundance, consumption, and waste… the alliance of the sublime and the banal is a consequence and a reflection of the ambivalent position of technology in contemporary culture. Technology is both a post-human other and a part of everyday life. For this reason, the individual becomes so attached to technology and this lessens mindfulness in the contemporary society. The next section will explain how my art objects become a getaway place for the contemporary sublime.
Presentness and presence in relation to my art objects in relation to the space of the viewers
Michael Fried states in his essay art and object hood that something is said to have ‘presence’ when it demands that the beholder takes it into account, that he take it seriously -and when the fulfillment of that demand consists simply in being aware of it and, so to speak, in acting accordingly. The role of my art objects is so that the beholder takes it into account. Because of the technological sublime, the traditional framework of painting would only strengthen the idea of the beholder’s attachment to technology, one that can be terrifying to the beholder and yet sublime. My art objects become a window where this attachment is disrupted, hence, there is mindfulness with Fried’s notion of presence.
The idea of presentness is inherent in the multiple layers of my art objects in relations to the space of the beholder within the context in which it’s displayed. Fried’s presentness is not dissimilar to my art object because presentness, as he states in art and object hood, is this continuous and entire presentness, as it were, amounting to the perpetual creation of its self- a condition that required continual renewal. From the inception of my art objects, every artistic decision is self-dependent in a way, whereby it functions as a window into our contemporary society.
In this paper, I have argued that my paintings function as a window considering the contemporary society -breaking down the barrier between beholder and mindfulness, which I believe is absent in today’s standards. This is because of the society’s attachment to the technological sublime which exists in our contemporary culture. Michael Fried’s notion of presentness and presence would only strengthen this perception of mindfulness in relation to the beholder’s presence in relation to the space of my art object, then the beholder can be mindful again.
 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, London 1991, p.38
 Ibid, P. 35
Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood Essay, Institutions and objections, Pg. 822-833
Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgment. trans. James Creed Meredith. Forgotten Books, 2008, p. 68-75
Eugénie Shinkle, 'Video Games and the Technological Sublime ', Tate Papers, no.14, Autumn 2010, http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/14/video-games-and-the-technological-sublime, accessed 19 March 2017.
Hi there, I'm an MFA candidate at Georgia Southern University. I enjoy creating and when I'm not, cycling is the therapy. Have a good time reading.