Date of Award

Summer 2015

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type



This thesis examines the complex history of the sublime, specifically the sublime Void of the Romantics and the newer concept of the technological sublime. From there, I examine the genre of science fiction and it relationship to the sublime, the Void and the grotesque. I use specific examples such Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, and a few others to better understand and apply these concepts. Beginning with these examples, I start to posit what role special effects play in how these films embody these philosophical concepts.

Building on this foundation of research, I go on to explain how my own work brings into real space a physical embodiment of the aesthetic and philosophical ideas central to the science fiction genre, and how this disruption between the boundaries of digital space and physical space offers new ways to understand their relationship. I detail the unique process of creating an individual piece, and I reveal how the titles of some works concretize their link to the science fiction genre. Additionally, I place my work within the Romantic tradition of painting, and compare and contrast my work with other artists, both historical and contemporary.


English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Michael Byron

Committee Member

Michael Byron

Committee Member

Cheryl Wassenaar

Committee Member

Colin Burnett

Committee Member

Adrian Cox

Artist's Statement

One of my primary investigations with this body of work is with the concept of the infinite. Paintings and installations I created have attempted to conceptually identify the infinite through various manipulations of the space the viewer encounters. The term “Artificial Infinite” has been attributed to the ways special effects have been used in science fiction films to create, through small models and computer generated effects, illusions of large scale phenomena. This idea has helped me understand the way in which such artificial forms created for cinema and scientific illustration can lead a viewer to contemplate such an unimaginable concept.

Creating paintings that address both the infinite and the body evoke notions of both the Sublime and the Grotesque. The Sublime is associated with feelings of awe and the Grotesque with feelings of revulsion. Both are predated by a feeling of terror. Within the genre of science fiction, these two concepts are utilized in ways that suggest that the boundaries between the two can be blurred. My paintings also elicit both reactions through a handling of surface that mimics artificial forms found most often in virtual space. Bringing these forms into real space creates a category violation that disturbs our ideas of body, space, and the virtual. Like much of the computer generated or cinematic imagery they reference, my paintings tread the limits of representation.

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