Parsons School of Design

BFA Communication Design

Thesis 2015

Zoe Sarah Bortz
The Sublime and The Beautiful Within The Dejected and Disfigured
Zoe Sarah Bortz
The Sublime and The Beautiful Within The Dejected and Disfigured

As human beings, we naturally seek comfort and assurance in the form of beauty seen in visions and rationality which aesthetically present themselves as symmetry, balance, and smoothness. But as these values have become increasingly static, we seek new forms of experience that offer us a more totalizing, visceral reaction, a reaction based entirely on the irrational. The sublime has this capacity, to astonish and overwhelm, producing a complete aesthetic experience hat approaches the transcendent. Based on a reading of Edmund Burke’s On the Sublime and Beautiful, this project seeks to link the sublime’s characteristics through developing and deploying a typeface. In the ubiquity of the text, typography, and imagery, we should be able to find traces of the sublime, the disfigured, the infinite, and the vast, affecting the reader’s experience on an associative, subliminal basis. The platform for this exploration of the sublime is two books that take place within the metropolis, where we find attributes of the sublime that are normally misconstrued as dejection and fear. The city is a wild place of unexpected experiences that becomes a crucible for the typeface’s development. Each book sets up a narrative centered around Edmond Burke's Treatise, deployed in two different aesthetic methods. The goal of the project is not to create a typeface that expresses attributes of the sublime, but also to suggest an emergent sensibility that embraces our innate need for experiencing the sublime in all its vastness, obscurity, and magnitude.

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