Tuesday, July 8

more thoughts on art

My knitting projects have become less portable recently. The blanket I'm making for my new nephew is being pieced together, the sweaters are so cumbersome, my mother's cowl needs only to be bound off but it's very fiddly. So instead of knitting on the subway, I've been carrying one of Christopher's old New Yorkers with me.

Today I read the most interesting article about the cave paintings found at Chauvet, France in 1994. I remember hearing about them a few years ago, perhaps when I subscribed to National Geographic. Anyway, the article is all about how the researchers are studying the paintings and caves and trying to figure out who the people were who lived there. To give you some perspective, these paintings are surmised to be 35,000 years old. That's really, really old. The cave paintings at Lascaux, which I studied in my college art history class, are only half that age, but they look so much more primitive. (I am not so comfortable copying over the images from their respective sites, so you might just want to follow the links to see what I'm talking about.)

Anyway, apart from the Chauvet caves being untouched for 35,000 years and the fact that the drawings look like they jumped off an art student's tablet, the article had another really interesting quote:

The authors cited laboratory experiments with subjects in an induced-trance state which suggested that the human optic system generates the same types of visual illusions, in the same three stages, differing only slightly by culture, whatever the stimulus: drugs, music, pain, fasting, repetitive movements, solitude, or high carbon-dioxide levels (a phenomenon that is common in close underground chambers).

Isn't that interesting? (Am I the only one who finds this idea completely mind blowing?) I mean, that trance like state, a state that a monk might easily slip into and that you might call "transcendent," is being compared to shooting up and to starvation. (Yeah, St Francis!)

Of course, they don't explain what those three stages are, and it's not like I'm having visions... but I feel like this is related to the same scary feeling I was trying to explain last week when I was talking about the act of designing, and how I let myself go to my unconscious when I design and how scary that can be. And how I don't feel that same fear when I knit, though in some ways it's similar (because it's a repetitive movement?) though less deep.



Alyssa said...

Where in cape cod will this show be? I'm gram lives up there and she loves the local theater I'm sure she'd just love to got see it!

Mary Jane said...

So cool! Now how do we find out about the 3 stages?

Carrie said...

I know what you mean. When I used to paint, I would put on some music, and eventually "I" would be gone, and this painting would come through me. Though it wasn't scary for me, more exhilerating, yet peaceful at the same time. Now I get the same feeling when I'm singing and really "in the zone".

Anonymous said...

I have definitely felt that sort of "losing yourself" feeling while doing artwork. Especially I'm alone or listening to music. I tend to get my best painting and sculpture done during those times.

Anonymous said...

I agree; all sense of time disappears for a while in that state, as well as conscious decision-making. It's as if the creative force is moving the work along, through me.