Art and the sublime : the paradox of indeterminacy unknowing and (dis)orientation in the presentation of the unpresentable

Mafe, Daniel (2009) Art and the sublime : the paradox of indeterminacy unknowing and (dis)orientation in the presentation of the unpresentable. eJournalist, 9(1).

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the (dis)orientation of thought in its encounter with art can be understood as the direct result of an encounter with indeterminacy as a lack in meaning. As an artist I am aware of how this indeterminacy impacts on the perceived value and authority of the artistic voice and in particular its value as a research voice. This paper explores this indeterminacy of meaning, as a profound and disturbing unknowing characteristic of the sublime and argues its value to advanced thought and for any methodological understanding of practice-led research.

Lyotard described the sublime as an ‘understanding’ through which art and its associated practices may be able to resist an all too easy assimilation by the public as just a consumer commodity. His thought represents an attempt to both politically and philosophically understand art’s, and particularly abstract painting’s, affect as a state of profound and positive unknowing. To talk of the sublime in art is to speak of the suspension of any comfortable certainty in being and instead to engage with the real as a limit to meaning and knowing. It is to talk of the presentation of the unpresentable as a momentary but significant dissolution of representation.

This understanding of the sublime is then further explored through the cultural phenomena of the monochrome painting and applied to the work of the two contemporary artists, Franz Erhard Walter and Günter Umberg. Initially the monochrome was understood as an attempt to go beyond traditional representation and present the unpresentable. In the one hundred years or so since that initial move this understanding has broadened. The monochrome now presents itself as a genre or even project within visual art but it still has much to teach us. In the concretely abstract and performative artworks of Franz Erhard Walter and Günter Umberg, traces of this ambition remain and their work can be seen to pose questions probing our understandings and experiences of artistic meaning, its value and the real.

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ID Code: 31573
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Art, Sublime, Indeterminacy, Lyotard
ISSN: 1444-741X
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Please consult the author
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2010 06:23
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:09

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