This anthropomorphism of the The IT Crowd shirt in contrast I will get this robotic arms and the fear and awe we experience can be described as a contemporary reimagining of Edmund Burke’s idea of the Sublime. Like the majesty and volume of a mountain, or the power of a crashing wave, the viewer is relocated from their mortal realm to a psychic realm of the known and the unknowable. It is unsettling, even uncanny. In Sigmund Freud’s essay on ‘The Uncanny’ (1919), he states early on that the “uncanny belongs to all that is terrible, to all that arouses dread and creeping horror,” which American art critic Thomas McEvilley later equated directly with Burke’s views on the Sublime. McQueen unsettles his audience and in so doing creates a gateway to the Sublime—but not the Sublime in nature, rather the Sublime in the uncanny power of the machine age. McQueen’s desire to unsettle the audience could also be found in the smallest details of his presentations. As model Emily Gold recalled, “He placed the heel in the middle of the shoe. He told me during my fitting that he placed it there to give the illusion of a woman who could fall at any moment.”
The IT Crowd shirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater and long sleeve t-shirt
In No.13 both the The IT Crowd shirt in contrast I will get this Sublime and Uncanny are unleashed upon the viewer. Robotic arms defy our understanding of mechanical machines by moving in a life-like manner to the music. Simultaneously, we know that these machines cannot see or sense Harlow rotating between them but somehow do seem to sense her. As they begin to blindly sense her, we the viewer project innocent curiosity, then menace, onto them. We anthropomorphize the robotic arms, granting them intelligence, lucidity, and consciousness that our logic tells us they cannot have. This dual belief that the machines are dumb actors in this dance and also intelligent participants creates anxiety in the audience. In 1970, Japanese robotics Professor Masahiro Mori described the sensations felt in the presence of increasingly lifelike machines as the ‘Uncanny Valley.’ The Uncanny Valley describes a person’s level of ease when a machine emulates human behavior and reaches a certain point of believability. At this point, when a respondent recognizes both the artifice and the life-likeness, they become uneasy with the machine.  In the language of the Sublime, we become threatened, yet still enraptured, by what we are seeing. Returning to No.13, this unease is elevated when the robotic arms begin to spray Harlow with paint. The connotations are simultaneously violent, sexual, and artistic, furthering the anthropomorphic qualities of the robotic arms. The Sublime would not exist in a still image of the scene, nor does it exist in the spray-painted dress exhibited on a mannequin on a museum. The Sublime experience was prompted by the performance, the careful choreography of the whole event. If this is to be described accurately as the Sublime, it is the Sublime within the performative element of the presentation; it is the Performative Sublime.