I began my inquiry into the "techno-sublime" by keying the term "techno-sublime" into Googe to see if the term had been coined before. Whilst there was no exact match, the first site that opened was http://www.sublime.net.au/chillout.html, 'The Chillout . clubbing is a planetary experience'. I had long been interested in the event of the techno-dance party, that total awesome experience where there is a collapse of individuality and a loss of individual boundaries as "I" become part of the collective techno-experience. It was uncanny to find myself at this site in search of the "techno-sublime" and yet it was precisely this exstasis or loss of identity in the face of the awesomeness of the techno-experience that was central to my understanding of the experience of the techno-sublime.
Ben Malbon's (1999) study, Clubbing: Dancing, Ecstacy and Vitality, has proved invaluable in providing support for my elaboration of the techno-sublime. Whilst Malbon's thesis is different from my own, the responses of some of his respondents as well as his own diary entries have become very important in supporting my thesis that there is a loss of identity or estasis within the particular experience of techno-culture that is clubbing. Thus in a diary entry, titled '4 a.m. - lost for words, lost in time and space, just lost.', Malbon writes:
We all seemed to want the music to take us over; to become us in some way.. Clubbers were losing it all over the place ... people are just so close to each other; proximately and emotionally.. The intensity of this fusion of motions and emotions was almost overwhelming. (Malbon 1999:xii)
This diary entry, in particular, speaks of an experience in which his sense of identity and rationality is subsumed in the experience. He notes:
How can I convey the deep thundering bass which is felt more than heard? The mass of bobbing bodies: blurred, colourful, dimly-outlined and unceasingly in motion? The space itself, which fleetingly seems as though it has no edges, no end in time or space, yet at the same time only stretches a far as you can see into the lights, the black walls, the heaving dancing masses? The sensation of dancing of moving without thought, of moving before thought, of just letting go, letting it all out? Words fail me; words become redundant and unnecessary, words become pointless. (Malbon 1999:xii-xiii).
In this article I want to argue that the encounter between dance culture and technology as experienced in "clubbing" is a sublime encounter. However, in elaborating this argument, I propose that the techno- sublime encounter is predicated on a very different relation to the sublime, than that developed by Immanuel Kant in his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime and the Critique of Judgement.
In the particular encounter, which I have termed the "techno-sublime", there is no longer a concern with the re-assertion of "self" in the face of the sublime event. Rather I argue...