Romanticism and The Sublime

I thought thats a brilliant introduction to romanticism (german romanticism anyway) but beautiful nonetheless. Making something simple like a gravestone of Anakreon , a Greek poet most notable for his drinking songs haha (thats according to wikipedia so may not be true).

That song represents one time in my life where I have felt sublime whilst singing this song-something for me to relate to.

The romantics were very caught up in this idea of the sublime, the philosophers of the time had made it seem incredibly vital for the artists to accomplish te feeling of it.

This is Friedrich’s Wanderer above thesea of fog. I believe it captures the idea of the sublime extremely well. We catch this beautiful moment in this man’s life where he is viewing creation, it is calm and relaxing yet also terrifying. We do not see his face because maybe we are to make up our own emotions from this work. The broad variation in colour is a huge point of romanticism.

471px-caspar_david_friedrich_032Ps22HopewreckFriedrichThis is another piece by Friedrich, it captures a similar powerful might to the first image and depicts a scene where a boat is caught in a world of ice.

I believe Thomas Cole’s vision of The Voyage of Life to be incredibly beautiful, and may choose to reference these in my own practice. Also in the gallery are the other pictures on this post as I can’t figure out how to have them on the post but not in the gallery.

Another idea of romanticism was the turn away from religious depictions of art  and a heavier focus on the self, the imagination and the individual. Sometimes (in fact in most cases) it was about becoming one with nature, a sort of soft diffusion by going back to basics. Sublime was part of this: it was described as the “strongest feeling the mind is capable of feeling.” The philosopher Edmund Burke argued that the sublime was different and very seperate from beauty. Beauty was a rational thought bringing on tranquility whilst sublime was emotional  and therefore lead to worrying, energising and terrifying emotions.

Turner was another very important romantic:


The fighting Temeraire is a beautiul depiction of the boat Temeraire being towed in to be disassebled and put into commission. It explored themes of old and new like a lot of the romantics did. The theme was very potent at the time due to the rapid change in industrialisation. It can be seen as a call to the past, a sort of desire to live in simpler times. This is very interesting to me as I feel that we are going through a similar phase at the moment, in some cases everything that has happened since the romantic period has been a reaction towards the industrialisation. Many people now are looking back to a simpler time than our own. This can come in the form of people wanting to live on farms and renovating old buildings, or even small things such as the rise in demand of vintage clothes.

We are the New new romantics.

Later on than the romantic period philosophers looked into the idea that sublime was a self-forgetfulness when faced with something of superior might, instead of running and panicking, the sublime replaced all emotions (or combined them all depending on the way you see it).

800px-UnderwaterBubblesYauger Williams breathing sublimity. A fear that you are going to drown as you are attempting to breath underwater but a beauty and insight into nature.

The mathematically sublime is something I think relates to my art practice at the moment. Here is a quote from wikipedia:

What is deeply unsettling about the mathematically sublime is that the mental faculties that present visual perceptions to the mind are inadequate to the concept corresponding to it; in other words, what we are able to make ourselves see cannot fully match up to what we know is there. We know it’s a mountain but we cannot take the whole thing into our perception. What this does, ironically, is to compel our awareness of the supremacy of the human reason. Our sensibility is incapable of coping with such sights, but our reason can assert the finitude of the presentation.

So that kinda makes sense and also kinda doesnt. So I’ll need to think about this tomorrow at my meditation time on the meadows.

It can be seen that the sublime was the turning point that began the modernist movement.

Wo die Rose hier blüht,
wo Reben um Lorbeer sich schlingen,
Wo das Turtelchen lockt,
wo sich das Grillchen ergötzt,
Welch ein Grab ist hier,
das alle Götter mit Leben
Schön bepflanzt und geziert?
Es ist Anakreons Ruh.
Frühling, Sommer, und Herbst
genoß der glückliche Dichter;
Vor dem Winter hat ihn endlich
der Hügel geschützt.

Parallel Universes

So, after much thought as to what the theme actually meant for me I decided to do a piece which didn’t rely on a huge massive impacting concept. So I looked into expressing my views through a map (my favourite of all mediums) of time. This involved me doing a drawing or designing my idea of the universe and its parallels.



So that’s my map, I chose to use rotring pens (the architects pens) because I was interested in the act of designing the universe or trying to map it out.

I then put a sheet of tracing paper of it and traced the path of our verse and another verse and how they combine and what decision determined whih universe is which.


So thats that drawing too and now I feel rather stuck.

It is possible that I may look into the sublime and the awe-inspiring power that I feel when I think about the universe. We are so scared because we are so tiny and insignificant, but without our decisions and actions it is impossible to have a universe. We are part of something huge and there is joy in that. It is impossible to look over all existence which is why I’m having a very hard time thinking about the art.

Sublime seems to be the perfect word for this. I may now look into the romantics and there view and “manifesto”

Over and oot ya bams

Predicting cards

So after A LOT of thought over the stuff I’d already done (ie learning every single card of the pack by the small printing errors on the back) I moved onto something that did not need all this memory.

I decided to change my brief as well, now letting it follow the theme of Time travel. Pretending I only had one day to come up with the whole idea I immediately spurred into action thinking about all I thought of time travel and what my opinions were on the matter.

I remembered the multiverse theory from a wee while ago and how to avoid the grandfather paradox by using it. Basically the grandfather paradox is you go back in time to kill your grandfather but in doing so cut short your existence by not letting him father your father so then you dont exist to travel back in time to kill him. In the multiverse idea you would indeed travel back to kill him, but it would stop your parallel universe twin from being born. You would also travel up this branch of time too if you were to decide to travel back to your own time. This other branch would essentially be a parallel universe.

So I thought again. AGAIN. and it occurred to me that everything has already happened, all options and choices have already been utilised in the other strands of time. So therefore if I predict the order the cards are to be dealt then I will always be right in one of the parallel universes. I did some maths and found out that in 1 of every 2.444*10^66 universes I would have been correct.

So, I did just that.Photo 3

thats the order I think the cards will be dealt.

here’s the video of me drawing the cards in our universe:

So there we have it, guessing 52 cards in a row in order.

New Project – create your own brief

So I went through some ideas in my head and on paper to try and decide which topic to go for.  really wanted to investigate the value of art and the money side to it as I had done before, but I knew that three weeks was not long enoug a time for me to investigate it fully. So instead I opted for “Forecasting” a subject which I find interesting as I have a huge fascination with time travel and fate, both which are quintessential to the theme.

Here’s the brief:

Project Brief:

Aim: The aim of this project is to provide you with the opportunity to:

  • Demonstrate practical and transferable skills in contemporary art practice.
  • Demonstrate visual language through exploration of possibilities within drawing and visual thinking to do with the theme of forecasting.
  • Demonstrate an open-minded and evaluative approach to study, investigation and research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the influence and contribution made by art practice, practitioners and philosophy up to and including the 21st century.
  • Produce a final outcome which is relevant to the brief and can be presented in a group crit at the end of the project.

Brief: Forecasting

Forecasting covers a vast amount of possibilities for discussion. It refers both to our obsession with the weather and also to our fascination with predictions and psychic abilities. In ancient times, weather was seen to have been the god’s decision, sometimes swayed by tributes and sacrifices. Nowadays we look towards the Met Office for guidance on what to do, they have become a modern day psychic to our tribe. Spencer Finch, an artist who dealt with weather in his recent exhibition in Dundee, is a candidate for an artist who should be looked into. Another topic which can be looked into is the possibility of time travel into the future to scope out what the world has in store for us. Fate is a very popular topic of art: philosophers have speculated about it since the time of Plato. This particular philosopher may also be relevant to look into. Never has this subject been so relevant, with the actual possibility of a breakthrough into time travel and also the need to predict things in a frightened society, threatened by terrorism and war.

You are required to plan, investigate and develop a contemporary artwork in response to the theme of Forecasting.


Studio, IT services, LRC, Fine Art Library and others were appropriate.

Summary of Programme:

Week 1: Plan and select an option from the several mentioned above or one of your own, carryout investigation and make preliminary sketches and sculptures relating to your concept. Evaluate the work and concepts throughout the process.

Week 2: Develop a single concept and produce several artworks relevant to the brief.

Week 3: Complete artwork and present the piece.


A formative review of the work carried out will take place in a group crit during week 3 of the project.

A formal assessment of this project will take place during week 16 of semester 2.

Time Allocation:

You have been allocated a total of 3 weeks to complete all work for this project.

There is no maximum allocation of self-directed study time associated with this project.

Units & Outcomes:

The successful completion of this project will result in you covering a number of outcomes from the following HN units:

  • Contemporary Art: Project
  • Developmental Drawing Portfolio

So yeah am excited for this bad boy.

Our first Philosophical Aesthetics seminar

Really was something to think about this. So we talked over Plato and Aristotle and all the way up to 18th Century stuff, I hope I got it. I certainly was entertained by the talk of these two philosophical giants and their work.

There were three things that Jennie got us to look over once we’d left the class, the nature of the work, the meaning of the work, and the value of the art.

I’ll begin with the value of the work as thats the topic I find most current. It was interesting to see that art was undervalued by Plato to such a great extent, he saw it as a terrible thing which influenced the nation in a negative way. He saw it as making people act differenty to things which were fated, such as the Oedipus story. Plato also believed that art, especially painting, was holding up a pale mirror to society, reflecting it, but all wrongly without any thought as to knowledge and the intellect. In Jospeh Kosuth’s work “One and Three Chairs,” he refers to this theory, playing around with reality and representations. From left to right we read that that the first is Mimetic(a copy of a chair) in the second we can see an impression of a chair, and according to Plato the final definition is the only real chair there, the others are illusions and concepts.


This must have led to the value of art being extremely low until his successor and student Aristotle exclaimed his tutors teachings to be wrong, he saw it as a means of helping people learn from their mistakes and having catharsis, a sort of intense emotion, but managed in a setting (such as a play) so we may see a broader scope on emotions. This is true when saying you can only understand great happiness with great sadness. The value of art really increased with the Italian Renaissance when the capitalist art market expanded greatly. This was between 13th century and the 17th Century whenst art was bought by the noble bourgeois, who saw art as a way of making them look even wealthier. The artist started to become celebrities and to know one, or be associated through a piece of work would have brought tremendous social standing, this would have dramatically increased the value of art not only in money to to society as well, it changed and developed the whole way everyone did things. I am incredibly keen to learn more about this as I have used value of art before in my works and will be happy to continue researching it.

The Nature of the the art work is something very tricky to comprehend, the philosopher Aristotle believed art was more than just something to look at, it was seen by him as a way in which we could have communal empowerment and mass catharsis. This meant that in the arts world, the play was highly regarded as the strongest form of work. Comedies and Tragedies ruled the world back in those days. This is due to the work, even though it was unreal, it was able to provoke real emotions. This concept was a huge dividing point between Aristotle and his tutor in the subject of Aesthetics. As time went by though, arts became more about paintings and sculptures that people could claim ownership over due to the heavy emphasis on social classes. During this time, beauty became a very important part to the subject matter of art. The divine representation was “in mode” and all artists were trying to replicate the holy loveliness.

The third topic we are to look into is the meaning of the work. Mainly the artist is always the bearer of the concept, but this changed quite dramatically in the 18th century, when art was “allowed” to be made for art’s sake, it became about a feeling which pleased the senses; sensuous. This was very much due to the; philosophical thought at the time being one of an open type; the individual experience, which moved away from the communal feeling that Aristotle wanted to have exist; there was also the beginning of people questioning religion, this was hugely influential to the artists of the time and many artists went on to work on different subjects such as landscape or still life.

So so far, its been very interesting to hear about these philosophers, I think I could have made quite a good one if I wasn’t so fond of art. I do however feel a slight pull towards Plato’s talk of art being a very bad influence on society, which I do agree with. Its incredibly hard to find potent works which have a happy undermessage, most works are there to poke at society and spot its weaknesses.

Oh well, til the next Seminar adios

Chalk finale to flypath

So I thought about the concepts I had gone through already, looking into the areas of escapism, creation, destruction and tracking of trails. I opted to draw a chalk version of the well known flypath on the floor outside the entrance to Telford College. The place was very significant to the piece as it makes irony, the fly was trying to escape the jar in the college, whilst everyone is trying to enter the same place.

Another theme to this work is appreciation, whilst watching the chalk drawing be rubbed away be people walking by, I was thrilled that they were partaking in the work without even knowing it, and also saddened that the work wasn’t appreciated. This is incredibly similar to the flies path being underappreciated, with many people ignoring the effort the fly puts in.

I’m glad I did not have an input into the destruction as I greatly appreciated the work that both myself and the fly put into this final piece.

Here are some pictures of the artwork before the erasure:

I’ve got a video too but its too large to upload onto the site and too large to upload onto youtube and then post a link. So I’ll just say, so far it people walking, cycling, pushing prams wheelchairing, staggering, spitting, jogging and showcasing on it. Still to come: hopefully rain, scrubbing it(intentionally), and maybe even dog peeing(fingers crossed on that one).

Its really funny seeing peoples reactions to it and the way they feel they have to move around it.