The Optical Unconscious;

about 12 years ago

The answer explains the reference to the "fixed stare" in that Ruskin cannot take his eyes from the "sea" and "the sea is a special kind of medium for modernism." How so, the implied reader wants to know, and the answer is that the sea is "a visual plenitude that is somehow heightened and pure, both a limitless expanse and a sameness, flattening it into nothing, the no-space of sensory deprivation." So the sea is a sort of ready-made monochrome, or perhaps a natural analogue to an all over blue painting, or perhaps to the oblong luminosities of what Rosalind Krauss elsewhere designates "The California Sublime." Or in any case for what she designates here as "the optical and its limits," where a certain kind of positive nothingness is in fact what one sees.

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