Sublime

I’m typing this blog post on the 4″ touchscreen of a tiny supercomputer, sitting inches from the lapping waves of the Gulf of Mexico with thousands of stars and the Milky Way shining up above me. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come since the first men sat upon this shore. In the palm of my hands I hold the means to an instant connection with practically any location on this planet as well as a reservoir containing millennia of human knowledge. What a great and strange world we live in and what a testament to the powers of the collective human consciousness.

The fading evening sky.
The fading evening sky.

The thing that I fear the most is that, with our constant connection to the technology that has brought us to this pinnacle of our society, many of us have begun to lose our ability to truly be awe-struck by the world around us. Perfect example: I’m staring at a smartphone instead of the stars above me.

These tiny devices that keep us so connected also serve to make our world appear so much smaller and less meaningful than it used to be. Imagine what it would be like to live during a time when half the world was unknown – when there were still lands left uncharted, and when explorers would set out on journeys into the unknown with no means to communicate what they’d found lest they returned from their voyage. When you couldn’t just pull out your phone and update your pals a thousand miles away.

One of my favorite movements in art history has to be the Hudson River School, particularly the works of Thomas Cole and J.M.W. Turner. These men were not only masters of their craft but also perfectly captured the purpose of their titular movement – the sublime. Their paintings present images of such grandeur and beauty in order to provoke their viewers to feel the sense of awe and inspiration that these wild frontiers held.

Thomas Cole, An Evening in Arcadia.
Thomas Cole, An Evening in Arcadia.

In spite of my predilection towards technology, I intend to rediscover the sublime on this trip, and one day, I hope that my artwork too can help channel that feeling of wonder and inspire someone to seek out the beauty  this world has to offer.

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