a window of thoughts

The paradox of being a perfectionist is that you are always confronted with imperfection. The perfectionist will never focus on what is perfect, only on what is not.

To further complicate things, perfection, when accounting for individual perspective, becomes multiple, ever changing, and imperfect in its perfection. When observed through enough lenses, all aspects of the universe attain a level of complexity reaching incomprehensible, and therein lies the art of the sublime, an art of conflict and infinities.

Immanuel Kant writes, “The Beautiful in nature is connected with the form of the object, which consists in having boundaries. The Sublime, on the other hand, is to be found in a formless object, so far as in it or by occasion of it boundlessness is represented, and yet its totality is also present to thought.” To comprehend the formless demands a capacity of imagination greater than the direct senses. 

Kant continues, “[The feeling of the Sublime] is a pleasure that arises only indirectly; viz. it is produced by the feeling of a momentary checking of the vital powers and a consequent stronger outflow of them, so that it seems to be regarded as emotion,—not play, but earnest in the exercise of the Imagination.—Hence it is incompatible with charms; and as the mind is not merely attracted by the object but is ever being alternately repelled, the satisfaction in the sublime does not so much involve a positive pleasure as admiration or respect, which rather deserves to be called negative pleasure.” (Critique of Judgement)

In confrontation with the sublime, reason is mixed with emotion and imagination, and it is this confusing delight I search out. Perfection is whole, instinctively pleasing, and in that wholeness it is limited, finite. It is imperfection which opens our perception to a density of information and possibility that approaches the infinite. 

Perfection is a habit, reinforced by society's desire for stability. If ever there is an impossibility to escape from society's habits, we arrive in the realm of Tragedy. 

“No one pretends society does not need its ranks, its orders, its tables of laws, its admonitions, its amnesias, its pathetic choruses, its preposterous teachers, its grinning governors, its unrevealing revelations, its tattoos debates; we state only that the tragic protagonist utters in his extremity the horror of the fact he is condemned to society, and that death alone is the exit. What he cannot know is whether death is a society also…” (Howard Barker, Death, the One, and the Art of Theater). 

To attempt to escape the hidden distortions of social conditioning, I seek situations outside of ‘normal’ social contexts, and even to escape the normalcy of my own body's movements. The stage, a place historically used for stepping outside of society's rules, opens otherwise unseen possibilities to explore human relationships to the self, other, and environment. There we breach the subjects of identity, body, and nature. 

In the art studio, I turn canvases into stages, where every mark added is an action performed on another body. In following the intentions of my own actions, every painting becomes a narrative. The canvas is a place to ask questions, to externalize internal struggles. Thoughts are transformed into action, are transformed into marks, creating a reaction, resulting in new thoughts. Artworks are cycles of thinking, creating, erasing, reconstructing where thoughts become simultaneously internal and external, in mind, senses and action. 


~Emily Zuckerman