Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Distance & Subjectivity

Distance: the gap between the viewer’s conscious reality, and the fictional reality presented in a work of art, which provides enough stimulation without the need for control.

Subjectivity: personal opinions and judgment about truth, reality, or debates

In aesthetics, distance and subjectivity are not considered to be important characteristics of a positive aesthetic experience. However, I believe that they are both integral components that have a closely tied relation. An example can be used to illustrate this relation; let us refer to a painting. When the viewer sees the painting, the distance experienced enables him or her to feel an appropriate amount of stimulation, without feeling the need for control. Distance then enables the viewer to be subjective, to form an opinion about the painting, whether negative or positive. If there were no distance, the viewer would not be able to enjoy the stimulation provided by the painting, even if they had a negative opinion of the painting. If they were overcome with the overwhelming urge to change the painting, they would block out the stimulation of the painting, and instead focus on the changes they would make to the painting. The relation between these two components enables a pleasantly positive or negative aesthetic experience to form.Inspired by Piet Mondrian

To illustrate these two components, I created a painting to illustrate an aesthetic experience. My painting is inspired and influenced by Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter who evolved an art form known as neoplasticism. In his various paintings, he used simplified elements to convey a clear aesthetic language that could be understood universally, without references to the outside world. His best known paintings used asymmetrical balance, simplified shapes, and primary colours to create pure abstraction, which he believed would express the “utopian ideal of universal harmony”.

My painting utilizes a similar use of white space bordered by thick black lines, but it deviates from Mondrian’s in its use of non-primary colours. Mondrian relied mainly on red, blue, and yellow, but in my painting, I have used brown, purple, and green in addition to yellow and blue. When a viewer looks at my painting, they can enjoy the stimulation that the various colours and lines provide through distance. This then enables them via subjectivity to form an opinion about my painting, be it negative or positive.


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