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200,000-year-old handprints may be the world's oldest artwork, scientists say – CBC.ca

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A group of fossilized handprints and footprints found in Tibet, dating back roughly 200,000 years, could be the earliest examples of human art. And they were made by children.

Every parent knows that children love to get their hands and feet into mud. Such seems to be the case long ago at what used to be a hot spring at Quesang, high on the Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of 4,269 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level.

A report in the journal Science Bulletin suggests these impressions were intentionally placed, not just the result of wandering in the area. The foot and hand prints fit exactly within a space, arranged close together like a mosaic. Their size indicates they were made by two children, one the size of a 7-year-old, and the other the size of a 12-year-old. 

Researchers discovered what is possibly the world’s oldest artwork, rendered here in a 3D scan, on a rocky promontory at Quesang on the Tibetan Plateau in 2018. (D.D. Zhang et al. / Science Bulletin)

During that time, travertine, which is a type of limestone formed by hot mineral springs, formed a pasty mud which was perfect for making handprints. Later, when the hot spring dried up, the mud hardened into stone, preserving the prints over time. 

The rocks have been dated to between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago. It is not known exactly who the people were that lived on the Tibetan Plateau at that time, but one possibility is the Denisovans, a branch of our early ancestors who lived in Asia and resembled modern humans. Tibetans living today still carry Denisovan genes.

Two ethnic Tibetan children play chess at a Tibetan village at the feet of Kalong Mountain in Tongren County. (Jason Lee / Reuters)

Whether the imprints can be considered art or just kids playing in the mud is up for interpretation, although the authors of the paper told Live Science it may be art in the same way that parents hang scribbles from children on their refrigerators and call it art. The authors describe the medium the prints are in as intentionally altered, which they suggest could have been a kind of performance to show like, “Hey, look at me, I’ve made my handprints over these footprints.”

Or perhaps these impressions represent the human desire to leave marks behind on the landscape that say, “I was here.” It’s a tradition that continues today with graffiti on walls in back alleys and famous actors and actresses who leave impressions of their hands and feet in cement along Hollywood Boulevard.

A makeshift memorial appeared for late comedian, actor and legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis around his hand and feet prints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles when he died in 2017. (Kyle Grillot / Reuters)

Little did these prehistoric kids know their handiwork would be preserved for hundreds of thousands of years.

If the carefully made prints are considered art, it pushes the history of rock art back more than 100,000 years. The oldest stencil-type handprints, where a hand is placed on a wall and coloured powder is blown around it to make an outline, have been found along with other cave paintings in Sulawesi, Indonesia and El Castillo, Spain dating back between 40,000 to 45,000 years ago. This is known as parietal art because it is not meant to be moved, unlike paintings or statues that can be displayed anywhere and traded. And the oldest statues also only go back to about the same time period.

A cave painting dating back to nearly 44,000 years was seen in a limestone cave in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Picture taken December 4, 2019. (Indonesia’s National Research Centre for Archaeology/Griffith University/Handout via Reuters)

The children of ancient Tibet could be considered among the world’s first artists, or maybe they were just playing in the mud like all kids do. But the question of whether the impressions are art or not is almost moot because handprints and footprints from the deep past provide valuable scientific information.

An international team of researchers describe ancient hand and footprints made deliberately which they argue represent art. (Gabriel Ugueto)

Archeology usually deals with fragments from past cultures, such as pieces of pottery, building foundations, monuments and bones. It is up to the scientists to infer, to fill in the gaps and try to determine what the people were actually like. But handprints are the direct signature of a person.

Tourists on Hollywood Boulevard squat down to place their hands in the prints of their favourite actors to get a sense of what it might be like to shake their hand, sort of a virtual handshake. Imagine a handshake that reaches across millennia into an actual moment in time, to a couple of kids who were just messing in the mud.

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Del Mar unveils five new pieces of public art – Del Mar Times

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The city of Del Mar’s temporary outdoor sculpture program has opened with five new works in downtown Del Mar, along a one-mile art stroll.

The Del Mar Foundation is providing approximately $15,000 in funding for the program over the first two years and the pieces will remain on display for up to 23 months.

Pasaje a lo Infinito by Hugo Heredia at 15th Street and Camino del Mar.

Pasaje a lo Infinito by Hugo Heredia at 15th Street and Camino del Mar.

(Karen Billing)

Take the Del Mar art walk:

  • Hanging Out by Maidy Morhous at 15th Street and Stratford Court
  • Birds Eye View by Petrello and Graham at the southeast corner of 14th Street and Camino del Mar
  • Terpsichore by David Beck Brown at the southeast corner of 12th Street and Camino del Mar
  • Moonshadow by Jeffery Laudenslager and Deanne Sabeck at the northeast corner of 9th Street and Camino del Mar
  • Pasaje a lo Infinito by Hugo Heredia at 5th Street and Camino del Mar

Robert Petrello and Drew Graham's Bird’s Eye View of Torrey Pines Beach.

Robert Petrello and Drew Graham’s Bird’s Eye View of Torrey Pines Beach.

(Karen Billing)

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Before There Were Pockets: A Métis Youth Art Series – Métis Nation of Ontario – Metis Nation of Ontario

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Before There Were Pockets
A Métis Youth Art Series

Part 1 – TOBACCO BAG
Thursday, November 18, 6-9 PM ET
Thursday, December 16, 6-9 PM ET

Part 2 – SASH BAG
Thursday, January 13, 6-9 PM ET
Thursday, February 10, 6-9 PM ET
Thursday, March 10, 6-9 PM ET

The Métis Nation of Ontario is excited to be hosting Before There Were Pockets- Métis Youth Arts Series this year across the province virtually through the Zoom platform.

This will be a once a month gathering of youth to learn a variety of traditional arts through the construction of a sash bag and tobacco bag. It is an informal opportunity for youth to connect with each other and work one-on-one with knowledge holders and staff. It will also be an opportunity to bring in special guests to speak about their artwork and journey. These workshops will allow participants to explore different skills and gain a deeper understanding of their Métis heritage. In order to receive the supplies for their session, all forms must be completed and participants are expected to attend all sessions. Access to technology and reliable internet is required to participate in the camp.

Space is limited, so please register and complete the application as soon as possible. Participants can access the Metis Nation of Ontario Application Portal at metisnation.smapply.io/.

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Vancouver Island art councils work together on regional impact study – Parksville Qualicum Beach News – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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The Arts Council of Ladysmith is leading the way on a project that aims to get arts recognized as a significant industry on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. With funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, it partnered with other councils in the region to conduct an impact study to show the value art brings to communities.

“Itis larger than many industries, like the lumber industry and the fishing industry in our community and it’s probably not recognized because many of them are individuals,” said Kathy Holmes, president of the Arts Council of Ladysmith and District. “People don’t think of them as a business and really, artists are their own business.”

The arts council partnered with the Digital Innovation Group (DIG), a collective of island arts councils, to bring together nearly 1500 artists and art supporters in the spring to assess the economic, social, cultural and health impacts of arts in the region.

“No other art council has even attempted to do this. It’s been a huge project, we are exhausted and what’s coming out now is really important,” Holmes said.

DIG will present the study’s findings at this year’s Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit this month. The study found one in 20 people in the region is an artist and over 90 per cent of respondents felt arts are foundational to economic, community and individual wellness, according to DIG’s summary of findings.

“We were looking for meaningful data to quantify the contribution of the arts sector to our region and are thrilled to learn that there are over 35,000 artists and that our sector generates almost one billion dollars in direct economic outputs,” said Ora Steyn, vice president of the Ladysmith Arts Council.

The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery has been operating out of the old school on Parkhill Terrace for the last two years and Holmes said it has had a large impact on the volume of visitors.

“The Membership is still being very faithful. We worked very hard at keeping them but the public is not coming in droves so we are trying to build that capacity again but it took us a long time to get to 13,000 people a year,” Holmes said.

The gallery will be hosting Yael Wand, a Salt Spring Island musician on Friday (Oct. 22.) Tickets are on sale now on the art council’s website.

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island poets share work at Ladysmith art gallery


 

@_hay_tyler
editor@ladysmithchronicle.com

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