Friday, October 2, 2009

ELecture~Art & The Unknown
The connection between art and literature or film is a natural progression. The connection between nature, geometry, and art does not seem as natural somehow. Yet, they are inextricably bonded. Take a look at the pyramids, Stonehenge, the Nazca lines, or even modern crop circles, all have been made with geometry and items found in nature, all works of art.

Many of the above items took years to create and the work of many people. Therefore, all of these pieces have more than one particular artist. In fact, in many cases the artist(s) are unknown, even to this day. The people who made them used geometry, symbolism, proportions, and science to create the works of art we now see.

Using symbolism and proportions we will start the focus with the pyramids. The oldest pyramid was built 2630 BC. They were created as tombs for pharaohs or kings. The inside of the pyramids was filled with the wealth and prized possessions of the pharaohs to help him rule as king of the dead. They were modeled on a sacred stone called benben. This stone symbolized the rays of the sun. These rays pointed upwards toward the heavens which is how the pharaohs reached the heavens.

It is estimated that 20,000-30,000 workers built the great pyramids of Giza over the course of 80 years. They did so during the floods of the Nile, floating limestone blocks to the base of the pyramid. Afterwards the workers would polish the stones and use ramps to put them into place. It took the work of architects, priests and astronomers to get the pyramids the proper shape and alignment in relation to sacred constellations. The Giza pyramid is the largest ever built and used 2.3 million stone blocks each weighing 2.5 to 15 tons.

Within the pyramids are some fantastic pieces of artwork. From the jewelry to the actual sarcophagus, most items found in the pyramids are on display in museums around the world.

Another landmark that creates artistic landscapes is Stonehenge. Built some 4500 years ago, Stonehenge stands as one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Since it’s discovery in the 1600’s man has tried to figure out the how and they why of this structure. Some see it as a holy site, whereas others view it as a scientific observatory. What we do know is that it lines up with the summer and winter solstices. The large bluestones came from west Wales, over 145 miles away. The largest of these stones weighs in at 50 tons. Some feel because of the feat in transporting them, that there must be a healing power within them. Others believe the stones travelled earlier on glaciers. Regardless, who the people were and why they made Stonehenge remains a mystery.

by Pete Strasser, copyright 2006

Now, let’s move on from the geometry of pyramids on to the geometry and symmetry of the crop circles found in fields all over the world. Crop circles are created by flattening crops of wheat, barley, or corn. This subject has only notably been studied since the late 1970’s. The earliest image found illustrating crop circles dates back to 1678. The designs made vary from simple circular patterns to very complex designs with an attention to the detail and composition. Some crop circles are even intricate fractals. Many crop circles are found near Stonehenge, leading investigators to believe the area may emit a certain energy.

Some believe the images are created by winds and are a natural phenomenon. There are other beliefs that UFO’s create these images being too complex for a man to create. Other individuals have confessed to creating some of these very complicated designs. Some people feel the government is trying to cover-up the real source. The artwork created for whatever reason, is undeniably beautiful.

Image by John Montgomery, copyright 2009

Crop circles have also seen connections to the Nazca lines, ancient sand carvings in Peru. Built nearly 2,000 years ago and abandoned 500 years later. Originally they were thought to be irrigation lines, it wasn’t until viewed from above that the lines were recognized as figures. There are hundreds of figures, animals, geometric shapes and even one called the astronaut. Some images are as large as 1,000 feet across.

Just like the crop circles, many theories surround why they exist and where they came from. Some think the ancient Peruvians used them to indicate a water source. Some feel they were made as a way for the gods to see them. Other beliefs have ranged from an ancient landing strip for the return of aliens, a celestial calendar, or related to astronomy. Part of what makes the lines so amazing is that they were not discovered until the 1920’s when commercial airlines began flying over the desert. This leads some to believe that the ancient Peruvians were able to obtain flight during their design.

Pollution and erosion caused by deforestation now threaten their existence. Some of the damage was done in 2007 by flooding and mudslides.

The Monkey (Biogenetic Experiments)

All of the above explanations are fairly brief and can be expanded upon in depth. For more information please see below resources.

Questions for Discussion:
1. Do you think these works should be considered art? Why or why not?
2. What are some other ways science and nature are used in creating works of art?
3. Think of some modern artwork, do any of these artists use science in any way?
4. Taking the concept of geometry used in the pyramids, look at works of modern art and compare.
5. Why do you think these landmarks were created?

Ideas for Lessons:
1. Using geometric shapes, create a dynamic landscape painting.
2. Using protractors, create artwork similar to crop circles. Can compare to fractals in nature.
3. Draw images of animals or people today, then make larger than life images.

References: -information on Giza Pyramids -Information on Cairo and pyramids -Pyramid photo -Stonehenge information -Stonehenge information -Stonehenge image -Crop circle information -Crop circle information -Crop circle information -Nazca lines information -Nazca lines information -Nazca lines information -Nazca lines information

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