Illustrated City Part 11


Cave of the Forgotten

I love this place. Spotted from a distance while driving by on a highway, I think it’s a great find. It is a peculiar and probably inadvertent reminder of where we all come from.

The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France has the world’s oldest known graffiti. The work dating back to 30, 000BC are the best examples of mankind’s most inherent ability and need to express thoughts through imagery. Long before we were texting, blogging, publishing novels, kerning type, graphic designing, drafting numerical symbols and alphabets, writing kanji or scribing in Egyptian hieroglyphics and cuneiform our direct ancestors were communicating the thoughts in their heads by making cave paintings; that we regard today as masterpieces, from pigments made of minerals and biological matter. They are the real origins of the communicative visual arts.

This is intrinsic communication of all people, it really isn’t a talent possessed solely by a select percentage of the human population we all have the gene for it. It’s only because modern societies have conditioned themselves to regard the arts as of secondary importance to the application of mathematics, science and political ideology to economics, commercialism and social living that many have forgotten how valuable the ability of visual art expression is to the human experience. Too many of us have become too good at suppressing the gene for that skill set.

A common sarcasm today is “everybody’s an artist”. I say sure! Of course! We were meant to be that way. Without being artistic, we can’t convey or realize the things we mean to invent. Why on earth would anyone want to relegate and stifle it? This aspect of the human condition should be encouraged and utilized.

This place is not a prehistoric cave but a drainage tunnel; a piece of modern infrastructure at the edge of a suburb. It is remarkable; nevertheless, that it has been put to alternative use by street artists in much the same way that our primitive predecessors did when they needed to share ideas with each other without a well-defined spoken language or sophisticated technology.

11 thoughts on “Illustrated City Part 11

  1. I always tell my commentators that they don’t have to travel far to get good pictures. I wasn’t stalling, trying to be compassionate. I really believe in that.
    Awesome images, Allan. I want more of this kind. Hehe. Saw them on your FB page. Would love to see it here on your blog, esp. with this theme.

    • Thanks, Rommel.

      The “Illustrated City” urban photography series will continue indefinitely on MOF’s main blog. Posting will depend on how impressive the street art I find is, where they are located and potentially what fascinating ideas and ramifications I discover or consider concerning street art and graffiti.

  2. Allan, I really enjoy looking at the images you produce, especially complemented by the context you provide. Very interesting write-up (and good picture)!

  3. Thanks for directing me here, I’m particularly struck by your take on everyone being an artist. Interesting how that has been lost in a way in modern society. Do you think it is possible though, that the people that what we would considered ancient had people that were designated to do cave drawings and the like? I say this just because it seems that as people we are really good at labeling each other and putting ourselves in groups, and I suspect that is not a new behavior.

    • As it’s our nature to communicate by labeling, I suspect that it is possible that our ancestors dedicated the most adept illustrative communicators to make such records when in communal groups. It would be interesting to see what the archaeologists and anthropologists theorize on that.

      Whether primitives were or weren’t dedicated to such tasks, it’s still all about communication; expressing ideas. So, technically, you don’t have to be the most adept illustrative communicator in a community to be put to to the task of making cave paintings and carvings. You just go ahead and express your thoughts to the best of your ability. Everyone’s an artist to some degree.

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