New theory on cave art
Art theory moves outside the cave
Artist links camera obscura to Paleolithic drawings
By Diane Heilenman
Think outside the cave. It makes for memorable movies, philosophy tomes -
and now, art theory.
A critical image in the 1999 film "The Matrix" is of humans being nurtured
inside a cave and "fed" sensory input through a sort of umbilical cord. In
Plato's "Republic," the Greek presents the allegory of "the Cave" as the
human condition of perceiving reality only partially, like prisoners in a
cave seeing only shadows projected onto the wall.
Louisville artist Matt Gatton started thinking of primitive people hunkering
inside caves and arrived at a radical, quite possibly revolutionary and
insistently plausible theory of the origin of representational art.
It struck Gatton, a St. Francis High School art teacher, that the question
of how Paleolithic people got the notion to create representational art
could be answered by their living conditions. Holes in the animal hides that
covered their dwellings could have projected images from outside -- a
phenomenon of physics we now call camera obscura. The people could then have
traced the images onto their cave walls.
Go to his Web site, www.paleo-camera.com. Chances are you'll come away,
saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"