Beauty and the Sublime (Final Version)

It becomes clear through reading the coursework, and looking at relevant paintings and photographs, that what constitutes both ‘Beauty’ and ‘Sublime’ is very subjective. The description of the terms provided by JAP Alexander in ‘Perspectives on Place’ makes it clear that both terms are related to individual taste. My interpretation of this is that ‘Sublime’ at the most extreme would suggest fear or horror, but at a less extreme level could suggest uncertainty or apprehensiveness. Beauty on the other hand can mean comfort, warmth, certainty, generally belonging.

However many of the examples provided, and those I have found myself, exist as standalone images. They do not generally have a surrounding context other than being the work of an individual artist. This has given me much food for thought in trying to find a theme to link individual images. It does not seem enough to take photographs illustrating beauty where the only link between images is ‘these are ones that suggest beauty to me’.

During the time I have been looking at this assignment I have (like everyone else) been bombarded with news and opinions on Brexit. I myself voted to remain and would still do so today; I think the decision to leave is misguided and will not deliver the new golden age that some suggest. However it does seem to me that the continuing divisions between remain and leave do no one any favours and we have to do more to understand other opinions. To this end I decided to try and illustrate what I see as some of the feelings that determined the leave decision. There are many factors that will have led to this decision to leave the EU; a clear generational split is one big factor, and outright xenophobia also plays a part. However it does seem to me that a lot of people who voted leave did so out of a dislike and fear of loss of control of their lives. It seems to me that this ‘fear’ could be directly analogous to the idea of ‘Sublime’, and could be illustrated as such. I wanted to produce a set of photographs that gave across the idea of loss of control of one’s environment, that decisions are made that affect lives without having any direct influence on that decision.

In my initial attempt at this assignment I tried to balance this ‘loss of control’ with corresponding ‘comfort’ images, to suggest that there is a parallel ‘OK’ feeling among other people (or perhaps more accurately the other 48%). Having reviewed my initial submission, along with feedback from my tutor, I have reworked this to focus solely on the ‘sublime’ position. I think that restricting this submission to just representing ‘loss of control’ has clarified the work. This has restricted the scope of the submission to really just the ‘sublime’ aspect of this subject. Although there is truth in the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” I cannot claim that any of these demonstrate ‘Beauty’ in any meaningful way.

I have taken over 300 photographs during this assignment. Most were unsuccessful and of the twenty or so that would be suitable I have discarded those that were too similar to others that I had chosen. Given the start point for my work here I have also discarded those that could be interpreted as suggesting the type of stereotypical Englishness that is characteristic of, for example, UKIP politicians. I have tried to keep this as non-political as I can but still suggestive of the concerns that have driven the ‘leave’ vote.

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