SUBJECT #02 — Sublimity — EPISODE 2
EDITOR’S PROLOGUE: I will leave artist Petter Spilde’s approach to the subject of sublimity without further introduction – instead I will plead for an open mind, as you are encouraged to read on, and enter the conceptual written world of Petter Spilde.
The text you’re about to read is based on a conversation I overheard during my studies in Holland. The conversation was between my professor and one of my co-students, the subject was the elevated form. This text desperately seeks to explain something about this specific conversation and its emptiness. At the same time, please notice that everything written in this text (also in the prologue) is a lie, a fictionalization of something I don’t really understand. I myself haven’t come close to experiencing, or even thinking about any of the thoughts I have written in this text. Look at the text as if it wasn’t written by anyone, and this prologue as a white light attracting attention to what you’re about to read, an introduction to something hopeless.
By Petter Spilde
A CONVERSATION WITH THE PROFESSOR
SUBLIME. They are to be sublime. You’re supposed to create four sublime shapes; in each they’re unique way. When I tomorrow step inside that door, I will find a series with four three-dimensional objects on this table, and they’re supposed to be created by God. Do you understand? I don’t want to see you, or anything else suggesting that you have been involved in this. I want to see something greater.
Yes. (I don’t understand).
Good. Then you’re at the right place.
WE ARE LISTENING TO TOM WAITS, “HEARTATTACK AND VINE”
NOTHING. For example, let’s say that we are to make a series of photographs (eight photographs á 30 x 50 cm, inspired by a study of shadows made by the class in mid-November). The photographs are supposed to express sublimity. We don’t understand this concept. Neither the professor nor the philosophers. But they (and I) are diligently writing about it. Kant for instance, says that my photo series isn’t supposed to be something beautiful, because beauty is harmonic. Kant, I’m taking notes: “I have never been interested in the immediate beauty anyways.” Only nature can be sublime, right? The wind, not art.
“There ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he is drunk.”
(Nice sentence, by the way.)
The sublime is something elevated? Das Erhabene!? Professor, is this really something God has created? Does that mean that we are sublime? No, we don’t believe in anything, only in nothingness. We are disharmonious, on the inside as on the outside; a complete chaos. We are created by God and we are nothing, and nothing is greater than God. Yes. I have no idea what I’m talking about right now. Artists have to accept that they are not great thinkers. They always strive to create something sublime, something unexplainable (beautiful), but we are nothing compared to what we are trying to create. To be nothing and to create nothing at the same time has to be the closest we can get to sublimity. A complete emptiness. That’s what the sublime is: Something that isn’t here. Something that’s alive without being here, something non-transparent. A nonexistence with a thick mass. Aristotle! This is the something elevated that we keep nagging about, what we are searching for, and a sublime text is supposed to look like this:
A DESCRIBTION OF BARNETT NEWMAN’S ONEMENT I (69.2 x 41.2 cm)
NOTHING WILL BE DESCRIBED HERE. SORRY.
GUIDANCE WITH MY STUDENTS, TUESDAY MORNING
Student 1. (Claus) has made a video showing a pigeon balancing on the edge of the sidewalk. It’s constantly close to falling off; that’s what’s interesting, he tells me, together with the size difference of the bird and all the people walking by.
Student 2. (Trine) has found a video on YouTube showing three youngsters hitting each other with an iron pipe, aiming at the kneecap. She wants to work with the self-destructive human being, or more accurately the sound of the self-destructive human being.
Student 3. (Albert) has filmed his grandfather while eating sushi. He doesn’t really know why, but he thinks it’s funny to see his grandfather struggling to eat food with sticks.
Student 4. Doesn’t show me anything.
Frustrating. None of the students has done what they were asked to do. The students are completely blind (except for Claus, he has a sketchbook filled with drawings of different types of sidewalks).
After the guidance I reach out to Student 4, and after a longer conversation it turns out that I managed to convince him to participate in the group exhibition, which is to be held in November.
EPILOGUE (WRITTEN BY GOD)
I have, when it comes to an end, worked towards mastering the creation of nothing. This has nothing to do with laziness, on the contrary. I just think that it would be fantastic if the work I’ve created wouldn’t exist in any type of physical form. This text is unfortunately a solid proof that I yet again have failed in succeeding the impossible.
Petter Spilde is a visual artist born in Bergen, Norway. Currently living in Copenhagen. His work consists mainly of photography, video and text. If you are interested in more information about him or his work, you are more than welcome to contact him by mail:
SUBJECT is an ongoing feature series inviting artists, designers and creative entrepreneurs to share their point of view and interpretation of a given subject. To inspire, open up horizons and start conversations – because more perspectives make a better story. SUBJECT is curated and edited by Sidsel Søgaard Spas.
SUBJECT #02 raises the subject of the sublime. What is sublimity, can it be reached, and how is the notion of this affecting artistic and creative practices? Alter Ego has invited three contributors to interpret and shape the subject to their own opinion. Petter Spilde has written this, the second contribution, in this series.