I find it rather telling that in a three-minute video on describing the “aesthetic concepts of the beautiful and the sublime” 1 Hatakeyama managed to do the opposite. Starting off by watching with no previous knowledge of ‘the sublime’, I am none the wiser by the end.
Having researched it since watching, I really struggle with the concept of the sublime as, to me it is an utter over-complication of the emotional response humans have to beauty.
He attests to the fact that some landscape art can be dull. Of a mountainous scene, he says that “[expressing] that beauty just on the canvas or take photograph (sic) it’s not interesting very often.” But the feeling of actually standing on top of the mountain and experiencing that is “awesome” – his way of expressing the sublime.
My issue with this thinking is that when we create art, we give up our viewpoint in favour of the audiences. If I capture a photograph of something I would deem ‘sublime’, I do not capture my emotional response in the shot. The next person who views that photograph has their own response- if that isn’t the same as mine then the ‘sublime’ doesn’t exist to them.
1 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (2012). Naoya Hatakeyama on what’s awe-some. [Online Video]. 23 October 2012. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61yXOOgmWKo. [Accessed: 6 May 2016].