On the Institutional Sublime

Astonishment is the effect of the sublime in its highest degree...

                                                                                     ~ Edmund Burke

These photographs were taken in San Francisco International Airport between 10:30 and 11:00 PM on November 22, 2002. The terminal was nearly empty at that late hour, and in the absence of human traffic, and with darkness closing off the open spaces beyond its windows, the underlying  structure seemed to rouse itself for a night of gleaming solitude.

Shaking off the quotidian demands of service and utility, doors, escalators and phone booths reasserted themselves as aesthetic objects. An empty departure lounge housed a solemn legion of chairs in waiting.  Along one half-lit corridor, an exhibit of giant lenses assumed an enigmatic significance that the busy daylight hours could never have countenanced. 

On all sides, through its manifold parts, this vast institution silently revealed its nocturnal nature - and that nature was sublime.  


(click to enlarge)

Text and photographs by Adam Sass. Quotations from Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful.


Oculus #1
Ascent #1
Door and Mirror