While traditionally notions of the sublime have been associated with natural objects - oceans, mountains - and man's relationship to these objects, more recently these sublime feelings have shifted. As the natural landscape has receded as a topic for the sublime as humankind began to demonstrate its ability to assert itself over nature, a new aesthetic phenomenon began to emerge: the technological sublime. Feelings of awe affiliated with the sublime began to be related to human-made objects.
David E. Nye theorized the technological sublime as something that produces awe through recognition of human achievements and abilities such as great industrial leaps like the advent of the railroad or space travel: "Those who stared up at the first skyscraper or watched as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon could not help but feel the weight of human accomplishment1." To Nye, the technological sublime was sign of "the potential omnipotence of humanity"; however, Nye believed that the technological sublime differs from Kant's sublime in that the natural sublime "concerns a failure of representation" whereas the technological sublime "concerns an apparently successful representation of man's ability to construct an ability to construct an infinite and perfect world2."
Mario Costa also notes that the technological sublime is a "tamed sublime" that is open to "socialized and controlled use3." However, for Costa, the technological sublime associated aesthetics with the accelerated use of communications technology and the dissolution of the subject and traditional art aesthetics.