TED Conversations

Sid Tafler

This conversation is closed.

What does cave art mean to you?

Stone Age art has fascinated people around the world since some of the first discoveries of cave paintings in France and Spain in the 19th century.
The recent Werner Herzog film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," showcasing the spectacular panels of lions and horses at Chauvet, brought new attention to Paleolithic art.
If you haven't gazed into the deep past recently, do a web search for Lascaux, Chauvet or Altamira cave.

What do these arts forms mean to you?
Do you find them beautiful, primitive, artistically inspired, or something less?
Are these drawings art for art sake, an attempt by Paleolithic people to reproduce the world they experienced?
Or do they have some deep cosmic or spiritual significance?
Why did these people of 15,000 to 30,000 years ago often create these works in places that were difficult to access?
Were they trying to communicate with each other, access worlds beyond their own, or engage in hunting magic?
Or were they just enjoying themselves scratching and drawing on cave walls?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 23 2012: We are instinctively drawn to finding patterns. But there is a reason. Mandelbrot has revealed through Fractal Geometry that indeed there is no such thing as chaos, for even chaos has patterns. The twig is the branch is the tree, is the forest. All things emanate from a simple essence, a pattern. Since we are made of patterns, we seek it.

    I am currently studying the evolutionary roots of human imagination. Imagination is NOT random, the symbols do have patterns. Depth Psychology explores these symbolic patterns and narratives. The brain is designed to retain narratives, not facts. Facts are remembered as associations to narratives. It is how we retain and access memory. For instance, dreaming of snake
    could be a cue that the reptilian brain has made an important connection or role in the brain's narrative. Bird dreams are related to parenting and family because from an evolutionary standpoint life learned how to parent when it evolved from reptile to bird. The patterns have a source in our anatomy.

    And if Mandelbrot's theory has a universal application, our propensity for pattern-seeking comes from the unconscious understanding that nature, including us is filled with patterns hidden behind the illusion of chaos.
    The imagination of the artist with a broken pinky has a source from his own visions, the very same visions that inspire the luminaries that created the world's religions.
    • May 23 2012: Mandelbrot set gives me the image:

      everything everywhere is doing the same thing infinitely.
      It resonates with " one moment holds eternity "

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.