Sunday, April 5, 2009

In his letter William Sartain says "the sun is the life of everything here." Yesterday my husband and I hiked Coyote Wall and the Labyrinth, a gorge trail just east of Bingen, Washington. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. The sun was shining, all the spring grass was that vibrant green and tiny wildflowers were blooming all over the cliff faces. The streams were trickling off the rock walls and the forest was damp and cool but not cold. It was where "the curious things are" as Sartain would say. I could have, like Sartain in Algeria, sat and sketched and listened for weeks in the new exotic place where I found myself. In the forest the birds were chirping and I felt like the "rapt audience" Sartainmentions in his letter.
Algeria’s history, something I know nothing about and had to google, goes back farther than many surviving cultures. The first inhabitants go back to the Neolithic period. 8000 years ago the nomadic population there began making rock paintings on the walls of caves, as in the picture seen here. Today, cave art is the most famous example of Algerian painting, and caves are the most visited tourist attractions for art in the country, acting as museums.
I recently attended a lecture at PNCA given by W.J.T. Mitchell http://, he talked about the future of the image by relating it to the past. One theme he stated was the use of animals in art, that what we will do to the animal we will do to the human. That by looking at the image of the past we see where the future of the image is going.
It was a fascinating lecture, slides of Lascaux cave paintings juxtaposed to images from the movie Jurrasic Park where the dinosaur gets caught in the beam of a light projector that plasters text against his scales.....anyway, the fact that the Aquaduct is related to Algeria and that it is a wall not unlike the inside of a cave and that these people were some of the original cave painters and that at least according to Mitchell the future of the image can only be understood through the study of the past of the image places Sartain somewhere along that time line. And I guess the place I would like to do my deep thinking about it is in the Gorge atop Coyote Wall on a sunny spring day.

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