They’d Draw on Anything…

| April 4, 2010

Was just watching this great clip on the beginnings of visual thinking.

Of course, I think that, like most, he over emphasizes the visual element, rather than thinking of it as a spatial and moving set of processes. But that’s for another day…

However, I love thinking in terms of generations instead of years. It really gives a sense of how embedded we are in this history and how close we are to the early beginnings of recorded history. And while his visuals also connected this so nicely to these earlier cave paintings, I was also struck by the incredible distance, the length of time spanning out past recorded history to some 30,000 years earlier.

The way in which these paintings resonated as something more than just a kind of primitive pre-cursor to art and “humanity”. And to see this wide swath of time, so little accounted for by our sense of “civilization,” for me highlighted once again, how easily we project into this void. And I thought again, of the histories of education and their strained opening pages, speculating ever so quickly on what education must have been like prior to recorded history. They are characterized not just by their brevity and ideological assumptions, but by suggesting that pre-civilized education was a different beast altogether, hardly recognizable.

Perhaps. But perhaps also, our notions of education are excessively narrowed by our limited scope. Either education is something much larger than is suggested by the markers it obtains with the birth of Urban centers, or… or it is not; education being merely this, a relatively short run of urban strategies tied to its historic moment. Without much tie to what came before, and not particularly sacred as we imagine what is to come.

I started thinking about how difficult it must have been for these artists to work in the caves, far from their models, and with terrible light. How magical and important they must have thought these images. Until it occurred to me that it’s just the stuff in the caves that was most likely to weather the generations to reach us. Probably they were just drawing on everything, even in dark caves. Rampant and prodigious graffiti artists, drawing for kicks.

And when we find it in a cave we call it Art.