Problems in depicting the Sublime

In my previous post I wrote about my failed experiment in finding ways to depict the sublime. I had searched on the internet for examples of what was described as Sublime Landscape and although there are plenty of examples, it is still difficult to pinpoint just what this means. David Bate says ‘’The sublime has a set of characteristics more akin to what the English Highway Code designates as a “black spot” sign, which represents a “warning”’ (Bate,2016:116). This does still leave any intention of the artist open to the interpretation of the viewer. This ‘openness’ is reinforced by JAP Alexander when he says ‘Both beauty and the sublime are matters of the senses and aesthetics’ (Alexander,2015:70).

During my research I came across the work of Adam Katseff ( His work here does (to me as the viewer anyway) conform to this idea. But it does seem that the ‘warning’ aspect only applies to individual images, not to the set as a whole. Individual images have an eeriness about them that does get across the idea of this being a less than friendly place. However the technique he uses seems to lose effect when repeated across several images shown closely together. Overall it begins to seem contrived, so that we are left not with the intended impression but just an appreciation of the craft involved.

This is an area that has been bothering me much about depicting the sublime. Individual images can show the ‘warning’ aspect but it becomes harder to sustain this uncanniness across a complete set of images


David Bate(2016): Photography: London: Bloomsbury Academic
J.A.P Alexander(2015):Perspectives on Place:London Bloomsbury

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