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Reading: The Sublime and The Sewer


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Research Article

The Sublime and The Sewer


Lilly Schaber

Cornell University, US
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SOS: The Salton Sea Walk (2017) follows a solitary male adventurer’s six-day hike around California’s Salton Sea as both a personal test of his own strength and perseverance as well as an opportunity to document and promote awareness of the sea’s receding shoreline and the ecological disaster that would result from its complete disappearance. This documentary derives and draws from a legacy of the sublime imaginary and landscape photography that helped shape the contemporary, Western view of nature. SOS: The Salton Sea Walk relies on three kinds of images to represent the landscape: the overhead drone shot, satellite images and a handheld camera. These images directly inherit, as technics, the aesthetic ideology of the sublime upon which colonial, imperial and other extractivist projects have relied. They depend on human technological power to capture and enclose the image from the outside. The natural landscape is fashioned into an object of the human gaze and desire, but of a very particular kind: an object that lives and speaks on the condition of its always imminent disappearance. The film seems to suggest that only through more technical and human intervention can the Salton Sea return, however paradoxically, to its pristine and pure, although constructed, natural state.

How to Cite: Schaber, L., 2021. The Sublime and The Sewer. Latin American Literary Review, 48(96). DOI:
Published on 03 Aug 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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