Registered: Nov 2004
NKS in Antiquity
NKS in Antiquity
As an artist, I would like to follow-up the thread begun by Daniel Geisler on 10-27-04 in the NKS Way of Thinking, on whether NKS was experienced/known/found in antiquity.
We raised this issue during this NKS Summer School 2004 in Providence, with Stephen Wolfram and team’s comments on the seemingly class 2 mosaics by the Cosmati family in the Byzantine Period. We also discussed the fractal nature of Hokusai’s great wave woodcuts of the 1830’s and ‘40’s.
Right at the end of the institute, I found a seemingly class 3 random design on a Chinese porcelain and a class 2 nested Byzantine mosaic from the marble pavement in Cosmedin, Rome (See Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament, originally published in 1856, now republished 2001, p. 280 and p. 152 respectively).
The hunt for such patterns continues. If the rules represent natural processes both underlying as well as observable, why have we not seen them before in art? Specifically, class 4 intrigues me, as I began exploring my short film and etchings for NKS2003.
This fall, the hunt yielded two distinctly different findings:
• Photographs of Paleolithic rock art seem to appear to show a web of class 4-like finger fluting (intentional engravings) over the initial images. I found three examples of this. The first was the yellow stallion in the Apse of the Cave of Lascaux (c. 17,000 years ago in the Magdalenian era); and the second was another Magdalenian period carved image from the Bassess-Pyrenees in France. The last was the finger tracings of the Gargas and Cosquer caves.
• The Taoist taxonomy of Li patterns represent dynamic forms found in nature, considered as laws or principles and expounded on by Chu Hsi during the Sung dynasty (960-1279) and Ch’en Shun. See David Wade’s book, Li: Dynamic Form in Nature (Wodden Books, 2003). Many of his categories such as brechia and fracture are strikingly NKSesque if not Class 4 in appearance.
These two observations dovetailed with some experiments I did at NKS Summer 2004. [See
and my follow-on show, http://tarakrause.com/Dancing_Emergence_2004.htm] It also informs my on-going collaboration on music theatre with Katarina Mijkovic. I found that working in an abstract expressionistic mode with rhythm and music catalyzed a new visual vocabulary and expression of Class 4 and emergence, inspired by Rule 1599. This vocabulary could not be done by imposition such as a Baroque Caravaggisti technique. It also required fully body movement.
Interesting enough, one class of Paleolithic finger fluting has been theorized to result from lower body motion. The phenomena of finger flutings in the Rouffignac Cave were to have resulted from moving from the hips with bending, twisting and shifting weight on feet. Moreover, if I am permitted an artistic risk/leap, some experts have observed that the size of the handprint signatures in more than twenty caves throughout Italy, France and Spain point to women shamans and that this indicated a female shamanic role in the spiritual and creative life of the Paleolithic clans.
Even more intriguing are the theories of South African San Rock art expert Davis Lewis-Williams. His shamanistic art neuropsychological model holds that shamans created these microlithic abstract images from trance phosphenes or entopics (seen by the eye when eyelids are shut) while in an ASC (altered state of consciousness) mode. [My challenge to neuroscientists would be to take up the discussion thread of whether class 4 brain activity is involved in the creation of complex art.]
In Lascaux cave art, Mario Ruspoli stressed that these images have to seen as a whole and mused that perhaps in the flickering of the fire to the rhythm of drums, a shaman in the Lascaux engraved the figures as he told the story before his initiates, that the movements of his hand and the act of drawing combined in its meaning.
So when we ask the question of NKS Class 4 in antiquity, it may require two separate distinctions: Class 4 patterns as a result of a complex process, and representation of Class 4 patterns found in nature. What are the rules involved in creating complex art? Does it involve Class 4 brain activity?
I would welcome others such as neuroscientists and art historians to join in the discussion. The notion of NKS Class 4 art perhaps can be expanded from the conventional albeit excitingly experimental generative art domain to include the primal.
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