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A paper published in the most recent issue of Adaptive Behavior significantly updates the long-standing thesis that the global prevalence in prehistoric art of “certain types of geometric visual patterns” suggests hallucinogenic inspiration. The University of Tokyo authors — Tom Froese, Alexander Woodward, and Takashi Ikegami — conclude that this theory is largely correct, and go on to map specific neurobiological features to specific forms of geometric abstraction.
“[H]uman symbolic practices and their meanings are the historical outcome of a seemingly open-ended social process of cultural evolution,” they write. But the scholarly community in cognitive science is split among those who believe that there exists an internal “symbolic system” and those who hold that there is a “cognitive gap” between basic, adaptive behavior and more abstract forms of human cognition. The former school of thought is held to be the older, more “traditional” view — but the lead author, Tom Froese, has been active in advocating for the latter, what he calls the “enactive approach.”
The scientific study of the geometric faculties of the human brain dates back to the 1970s, and the authors spend a great deal of time engaging the scholarship stemming from something called the Turing mechanism, which comes from a paper published by the late mathematician Alan Turing in 1952. Turing’s paper, completed shortly before he took his life, provides a model for the formation of complex geometries in nature (there’s a great Wired slideshow explaining the gist of his findings if Turing’s complex proofs aren’t quite your speed).
Froese et al. then proceed to dismantle a handful of theories relating to the appearance of geometric forms in art, most notably an established scholarly view that “social conflict and class struggle” were the primary drivers of the first symbolic artworks. They return to Turing’s idea of natural cell assemblies forming certain geometries to explain the “selective bias” of the first artists throughout the world for certain types of shapes, suggesting a common neurobiological state. In other words, the authors remain convinced that hallucinogenic altered states, shamanic or otherwise, likely played a significant role in mediating the transition from “here and now” basic motor functions to refined visual practices — the first geometric art — by “decoupling” the mind from the survival-oriented mentality driven by the immediate environment.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…