Final Summary Post: Film and the sublime experience


I spent most of the time on this project researching art across various media, poetry, and aesthetic analyses of the sublime, as well as trends in how it has been interpreted by artists over the years. In my analysis of the works I studied I paid attention to two main categories of information:

> thematic elements: common motifs, symbols, and interpretations of what ‘the sublime’ means

> technical elements: what technical strategies work best for getting the ideas across, in various media. [Read more…]

Film and the sublime experience: a few thoughts on methods

Project: to articulate and express the sublime feeling via experimental short film. Abstract here.

Here’s a few thoughts on how the various of elements of the experimental film I’ve been working on:


Narrativity has spurred my most difficult challenges in planning the film. An important question to consider was: to what extent should the film avoid a “clear” narrative like what we’re used to seeing in the movies? [Read more…]

The unpresentable, and various forms of abstraction

Barnett Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis (1950)

Project: to articulate and express the sublime feeling via experimental short film. Abstract here.

One element of the sublime, especially in contemporary understanding, is the idea that it is “unpresentable.” The sublime exceeds human understanding, and defies any attempts to represent it in any medium; it’s inconceivable and therefore impossible to depict or describe.

This goes back to Immanuel Kant, who explained the experience of the sublime as an encounter with our own limitations — the realization that an experience is wholly outside your ability to understand it. “We are made aware, Kant observed, that sometimes we cannot present to ourselves an account of an experience that is in any way coherent. We cannot encompass it by thinking, and so it remains indiscernable or unnameable, undecidable, indeterminate and unpresentable.” 1

Probably the best-known expression of this idea is an ancient one:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
[Read more…]

Film and Sublime Experience

Hi, I’m Sara Suarez, and for my summer research project, “Communicating Sublime Experiences Through Film,” I’ll be researching how artists portray encounters with the sublime — and I’ll be making a short experimental film based on these findings.

[Read more…]