Friday, January 29, 2010

Its getting harder all the time...

The underwater scenes were taken by a friend I met in Bali. Roland was from Switzerland and was a diver who spent most of his time underwater taking great pictures. We met over breakfast one morning and after getting to know eachother he offered me two discs wotrh of these unique underwater scenes which I like to use when my stories gets too depressing and morbid for consumption.

"I used to be an angry young man...been hinding me head in the sand.." but things are getting harder, a little harde all the time..." unfortunately eversince the pandora box was opened to humanity. Knowledge is at our fingertips for those who have excess to a PC and the Internet; tap and ye shall be informed about almost evertything and anything under the sun from here to Cancun from there to Lhasa. I was living in San Francisco when cyberspace was a buzz word and i even wrote an essay on it on my son's PC which i forgot about untill he reminded me years later of the writng which was saved in the computer. It was then that I adopted the word "humind", which started off as typo error and later as a shortened version of human mind, and now it is my email adress. I started writing after being left to babysit my son's PC back then in 1990-91 while he was attending the San Jose State University which is about sixty miles from San Francisco...
"A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectation." ~Chinese Proverb
Today I had my two Art History classes together at the Muzium Gallery Tuanku fauziah and almost all the students turned up to my pleasant surprise and that made up about seventy students running all over the place. They seemed to have a good time half paying attention to my talks an the half busy doing everything else that teenagers do these days. The gallery is having a show of its permanent collection including some of the more welknown artists such as Dato' Syed Ahmad Jamal, and Latif Mohidin nie artist's works altogehter. The exhibition is entitled "Pioneers of Malaysian Modern Art. It is a good selection of Malay and Chinese artist who has contributed in one way or another towards the Malaysian contemporary art scene.

This kids seemed to have fun and amidst all the chaos of some seventy five kids running around a muzium i managed to get them to focus alittle on what they were there to do. One of the things they were suppose to pay atttention to was the Islamic Art exhibits as it would be nex on their topic of Art History. I am now beginning to find out the tedious and monotonous side of teaching and that is marking the papers. It is most depressing if not aggravating to coreect papers that all read the same word for word that has very little or nothing to do whatsoever with the original question.. How can i not have great respect for my late wife who taught ESL most of her career as a teacher; teachers should be given a twenty one gun salute at their burial ceremony and students should be made pal bearers at their teachers' funeral.
"Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best. " ~ Bob Talbert
But I can also see where teachers can loose their interest and enthusiasm in teaching in the course of their career especially when they get students who are there just to fullfill their parents wish and occupy thier time. Those that have no respect for others in the class and are there simply to entertain their immaturity while in transition to becoming an adult. Those that slide by each and every way they can from doing their assignments, copying others and the internet, plagiarising without even care to note if the palgiarism fits what the answers ask for. These are the future of our nation and I have but only a handful compared to the average school teacher! God bless them all! Now I am beginning to understand what being a teacher is all about and i know that this is only the tip of the essys to be marked and commented upon. Now i cna see why my late wife used to sit by herself through most of the night or locked in her office when she is not in her classes pouring her heart out over half heartedly written answers by students who expect miracles to happen at the end of their semster.
It is not that i blame the kids for that is what most of them are and mine is still home sleeping out the days and staying up the nights staring intently at the lap- top either playing video games or watching something on you-tube. This is what the next form of illness is going to be that will hit out at the next generation... the Lap -top zombies. Their eyes will go first as most hide in the dark so as not to disturb those asleep around them and next their eardrums as they turn full blast on the earphones knowing that only them can hear rhe racket they are enjoying. It is the ultimate escape! This is a side effect that cyberspace has taken for those who have excess to PCs and lap tops. It is only hope that most know the difference between use and abuse, that their minds can as easily be corrupted as it can be enlightened by merely stumbling on to a wrong web - site. Th virus comes in many forms and the worse are those that destroys the innocence and purity of an uninformed, immature mind surfing the ocean of infinite information on the Internet or lost in Cyberspace.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shit happens 2

Oh yes now it is the suraus and mosques that get hit by vandalism and even arson and why not after all, there are not so tolerant Christians too and it is their God given right to retaliate for what was done to their house of worship. Is this what is really happening? Or are we dealing with demons in human forms out to create chaos where peace has prevailed, out to pull wool over our eyes from seeing what is really at stake in our country. We are facing many unsolved issues in our country politically, economically and even religiously it is like, lets create a new issue so the general public are not too focused on where we fail or the unsolved important issues on hand... like the MCA Drama, the Lost jet engines Master minds, the Anwar Ibrahim never ending saga, the RPK fugitive abroad and the Mongolian Raphsody and the One that got away from getting caned by the religious department for drinking beer, whatever her name is and not to forget the Pork (Start news Paper) Klang embezzlement unsolved case. Lets burn a few more churches and mosques and while we are at it why not ad a temple or two just to be sure that shit really hit the fences, than scream for solidarity and unification of multi ethnicity, the people they love to swallow that kind of stuff and especially now that the highest authorities are giving their attention to the matter.
It must be clear to all thinking people that the policies adopted by governments just about everywhere to solve the problems that confront us today, such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness, disease, malnutrition, crime, drug addiction and environmental degradation, do not work. If they did, then these problems would not be increasing as they all are, and at an unprecedented rate.
Enough said, I do not intend to stir more than i can chew and it is easy to cater to my thoughts and fancies but in this country it is highly unhealthy to say your piece unless you are willing to pay the price. However I simply am disgusted to be made to feel like a fool, being manipulated by the powers that be and most of whom are nothing but for their connections and corruption. But then again maybe I am wrong maybe it is all as it is, happening and there is no boogie men out there trying hard to create chaos just to cover their retreat. None out there orchestrating events to suit their hidden agendas...
All in Allah's name...InSha'Allah....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What will happen, can happen and has been...

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The staggering scope of Haiti's nightmare came into sharper focus Monday as authorities estimated 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless in the heart of this luckless land, where injured survivors still died in the streets, doctors pleaded for help and looters slashed at one another in the rubble. A.P.

What is happeneing in Haiti should touch every human heart and minds,it is an example of what can happen, will happen and is happening to us in our lives. We are being given another 'wake up call", another grave warning about how fragile we are despite our boasts of being evolved and superio among God's creation. When faced with such devastation we we can witness how beastly we can become worse off than the worse of God's creatures and we are Humans!
We pride ourselves in our ability to fight wars creating sophisticated weapons of mass destructions that can be delivered with clinical precision and yet we cannot deliver a bottle of mineral water to those whose very lives depends on it! We pride ourselves in our ability to organized and execute actions on the spur of the moment when it comes to eliminating far away enemies hidden in caves and mud houses, but when it comes to delivering aids to single Island nation id dire need of help we are at a logger head as to who is the boss in these here operations.
Watch and learn, watch and learn is all that those of us faraway from the scene can do for our turn might be around the corner and how we have learned from these natural disasters will matter in how we attend to ours if and when it happens... rest assured happen it will as we are the cause of it and our refusal to admit and face it is a collective denial we are all guilty of; the planet is slowly but surely beginning to fall apart and Atlas is shaking his shoulders from too much crap sipping down his back. What has climate change got to do with Tsunamies and earthquakes?! Ask the experts. Perhaps nothing . perhaps God (whatever God or whose God it is) is just beginning to get pissed off at our arrogance as man who instead of becoming the wards of this lonely planet have turned into its worse nightmare. Pick your choice and ask yourselves what would happen...if... it is us; the petronas twin Towers stands on reclaimed land they say... it will come tumbling down if... pray hard that it does not.. and if it does do we cope... dont assume for the answers to these idiotic questions may spell chaos or success... it is more vital than the 'word' Allah when shit hits the fence.
Malaysia's pride in being a multi this and multi that can be her worse nightmare when push comes to shove and an event like that unfolding in Haiti can turn this country into hell overnight just because we are multi this and that, it will make May 13th looked like child's play. And aids? Look around us for help...who? Indonesia? Singapore? Thailand? The US? These nations has one axe or another to grind with us like it or not thanks to our Mlaysia Boleh high and mighty attitude towards them in the past especially during the reign of the former PrimeMinister whose words of wisdom has more than often kicked some other nation in the teeth because he was right and was in the positon to make it so. The one saving grace that we as a nation might have going for us is the fact that we are and have always been a charitable nation towards providing aids to others. On account of this alone others might look upon us with compassion when it is our turn to face the wrath of nature.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Perjalanan Roh ( Journey of the Soul)

I had a sobering experience last night after reading this book written in Bahasa Malaysia about the journey of the soul from birth to the afterlife. What I was awakened to was the part that categorized me at sixty as among those who is considered in the age of "renunciation' as far as a Muslim is concern. Getting myself to leave this material life and focus on the afterlife, to surrender all that has been accomplished and not hanker anymore towards achievements and fulfillment of dreams and visions. I and all those of my age group should be spending our time in the Mosques and madrasah atoning for our past transgressions and make amends with the Al Mighty to garner His Compassionate Grace before it is too late as we will never know when the big one is going to hit us and deprive us of the ability to perform these mental and spiritual ablutions. According to the Prophet of Allah(PBUH), sixty plus is the best years that a man should die ni this day and age of His ummah (followers). I agree absolutely, I hate to be dragging my feet getting to the hole in the ground and I'd rather depart while my mind and body is still alive and concious capable of going to the toilet on my own and wiping my own ass.
Wishing for death is a sin however according th Islam. one is to live all the alloted years of our lives to the fullest benifiting ourselves and others in the process her and in the hereafter (if you believe). Practice of piety and charitable acts abandoning all hopes and aspirations of this world for that of the next is highly recommended for one who has turned sixty, hard to find a companion or soul mate at this age in other words if you really think about it my days of wine and roses are over by Muslim standards!! Like listening to Pink Floyd (correction, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd) in their latest ablum entittled The Island or something to the song 'Blue". Whatever happened to the fiesty raw Acid Rock of the old days Pink? Gotta Take a Breath! Is this all there is?, the peak of Mystic Mountain the end of the road to the glory of lvivng? Whatever happened to the cynicism and the rebellious rebel where has he hidden himself succumbing to the inevitable days of retirement and complacency? Is this all there is to be hail about this so called life when death is staring you in the face from all nooks and cranny and yet refusing to make any attempt at carrying out its duty of ending this show once and for all? Why does one has to wait for the final cut when waitng itself is an agony 0f hopelss boredom and despair, why exist when existence itself has become an admittence of regrets and remorse towards what was and what has been...NAAH!!! "there is still pieces yet to fall into place... so bake the bread and pour the wine...I need no blessings for the counting mind.. "
I'd rather be playing Rudy Toot Toot To The Moon than sit on my hands waitng for death to awaken my senses and cry foul at all the inequities i see all around me. I"d rather stand tall and deliver than stoop on my bended knees cowering for forginess of the life i had chosen to live for I am a believer. I believe in His infinite Mercy much more than His wrath, for my lord is the Lord of Compassion a Lord of Mercy, a Lord of Love. Had He wanted me to live a cowardly life He would have switched my life with that of my twin brother, Nauzubillah! I may be on the wrong side of the raod most of my life but i feel i have lived my life on my terms and not according to anyone else's. I am not guilty nor afraid it has been the roll of the dices througout my life that I have followed I will go on living in wonder of what will be but now without my dreams and aspirations burning till the end for this is how i believe He would want me to live, this my Jihad!
"Where we start is where we end... The day is done... the sun sinks low...its time to go...back to the twilight... home again... " David Gilmore.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

May the AlMighty have mercy on Haiti and her people.

I asked my students ageing between 18 and 20s if they had any idea of what was going on in Haiti and they looked at eachother like what is he talking a bout? Where is Haiti?
While in Haiti...
"Hard-pressed government workers, meanwhile, buried thousands of bodies in mass graves. The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's cataclysmic earthquake. Up to 50 percent of the buildings in the capital and other hard-hit areas were damaged or destroyed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York."
Another catastrophe, a devastating disaster a calamitous event has stricken yet another poor nation why Lord? It is not enough that this island nation has been struggling most of its existence trying to break free from human bondage, corruption and exploitation and now You have practically wiped out whatever that is left that has held together the fabric of its humanity. Perhaps the answer to the question is already answered as You, Lord ,do work in mysterious ways, like wipe the slate clean and start a new beginning. But do they learn even from these harsh lessons? Look at Aceh, after the Tsunami they are now back to their kill or be killed ways of old before You sent them the big wave.
What do i know, I am but a wanna be artist who still is struggling to make ends meet in these days and age of so called plenty, what does it matter how I see things being removed from these events that has changed lives for good in most cases. I express myself through this 'Tower of babel", You have endowed man with in order that we may share our thoughts and ideas , dreams and concerns and so we try, each and everyone of us... just blogging away irregardless if it makes sense or not anymore. Our collective mind hopefully will someday bring to fruition our collective dream in the most positive way to save this our beautiful planet the only one that we know of in the galaxy of planets that You have created Your testing ground of souls. Don't give up on us yet Lord, we are still not broken nor will we give up without arriving closest to Your being despite all the trials and tribulations that You have laid in our path albeit pain or pleasure. There are those of us Lord who will still aspire to fulfill our destinies as You had set out for us to.
To the Tahitian Government and people who's on these last few days are struggling to cope with their losses and grief I pray to You for solace and calm, for Your infinite Mercy and Compassion. Please dear Lord , You who has the Power over life and death, over all that is and that will ever be, I besiege Thy forgiveness for our transgressions whether as individuals or collectively. Spare us Thy wrath even in these days of the End of Days, these 'Darma Ending Age', these 'Kali Yuga!' these' Akhir Zaman!!'I beg Thee for time that we may find reconciliation in our beliefs and faiths, find peace between all those factions that are at wars amongst us, give us time Lord that we may come to truly understand Your Will through the understanding of who we are and why we are being created the way we are and who is our true companions and who our mortal enemies. Give us the strength to stand up and be accounted for as man and not as anything but man, created in Thy image and bearing Thy essence within each and everyone of us, your mirrors, that which You reflect this creation with, your eyes that which You behold and the rest of the senses by which You enjoy Your creation for in Truth only You exist, the rest are but pigments of Your imagination, illusions, Maya, only dust in the wind. Give us the strength that we may come to realize and awaken to Your Truth, the only Truth that we were created to behold and to serve.
Ya Allah! as a poor example of a Muslim I place my hands together and bow my head before You in humility and awesome fear that You will grant me and mine forgiveness and guidance and lead us in the straight path, that which have been taken by those before us, those that have earned Thy mercy and Favor...ameen!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

On Ancient Egyptian Art

The Ancient Egyptians did not have a word that corresponds to our word 'art'. They do not seem to have made statues or paintings to collect or to hang on the walls of museums and art galleries. But they loved to be surrounded by beauty in life and in death. Their homes often had paintings on the walls, and royal palaces had elaborately painted floors and ceilings. Tombs were filled with as many statues, and as much carving and painting, as the owner could afford.
It may seem strange to think that some of the most beautiful images we have of Ancient Egypt in fact come from tombs, and would have seldom or never been seen by living people. Why would anyone go to the trouble of making fine statues of himself or herself, and then bury these where no one could see them?
Egyptian statues, wall paintings and carved stele were all functional. The images we see of humans and gods, animals and plants, had a religious intention. They were almost always part of the cult of a god or of the dead. Statues were places where gods or deceased humans could manifest themselves, places where a spirit could dwell. For non-royal people, the images in the tombs were places of contact between the world of the dead and the world of the living. The spirit of the dead could enter into an image and thus be aware of, and partake of the food offerings left by the living.
Images of battles, of hunting, of farming or family life, beautifully carved into the walls of temples and tombs, ensured that these things would continue forever. Scenes of religious rituals on the walls of temples meant that, even if for some reason the king or the priests could not perform the holy rites of the gods, these essential actions would still go on.
Since the making of images was so important to Ancient Egyptian society, artists and craftsmen were often privileged persons, enjoying a much higher standard of living than farmers or craftsmen such as potters.
As far as we know, most of the Ancient images we see were made by men. Boys would become their father's apprentices, and gradually learn their father's craft and art. As in any society, there were highly skilled craftsmen, and those who were not quite as good. When we visit Museums and Art Galleries, and look into books on Egyptian Art, we tend to see the work of the most skillful, paid for by the richest members of society. It's important to remember, though, that less wealthy people also commissioned statues and carvings. This work may be less appealing to us, less 'beautiful' but it was just a functional, just as useful to the owner, as the most wonderful statues made for kings and royal wives.

Because of the highly religious nature of Ancient Egyptian civilization, many of the great works of Ancient Egypt depict gods, goddesses, and Pharaohs, who were also considered divine. Ancient Egyptian art is characterized by the idea of order. Clear and simple lines combined with simple shapes and flat areas of color helped to create a sense of order and balance in the art of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptian artists used vertical and horizontal reference lines in order to maintain the correct proportions in their work. Political and religious, as well as artistic order, was also maintained in Egyptian art. In order to clearly define the social hierarchy of a situation, figures were drawn to sizes based not on their distance from the painter's point of view but on relative importance. For instance, the Pharaoh would be drawn as the largest figure in a painting no matter where he was situated, and a greater God would be drawn larger than a lesser god.

Symbolism also played an important role in establishing a sense of order. Symbolism, ranging from the Pharaoh's regalia (symbolizing his power to maintain order) to the individual symbols of Egyptian gods and goddesses, was omnipresent in Egyptian art. Animals were usually also highly symbolic figures in Egyptian art. Color, as well, had extended meaning - Blue and green represented the Nile and life; yellow stood for the sun god; and red represented power and vitality. The colors in Egyptian artifacts have survived extremely well over the centuries because of Egypt's dry climate. Despite the stilted form caused by a lack of perspective, ancient Egyptian art is often highly realistic. Ancient Egyptian artists often show a sophisticated knowledge of anatomy and a close attention to detail, especially in their renderings of animals.

Art Forms
Ancient Egyptian art forms are characterized by regularity and detailed depiction of human beings and the nature, and, were intended to provide company to the deceased in the 'other world'. Artists' endeavored to preserve everything of the present time as clearly and permanently as possible. Completeness took precedence over prettiness. Some art forms present an extraordinarily vivid representation of the time and the life, as the ancient Egyptian life was lived thousand of years before.
Egyptian art in all forms obeyed one law: the mode of representing man, nature and the environment remained almost the same for thousands of years and the most admired artists were those who replicated most admired styles of the past.

The word paper is derived from "papyrus", a plant which was cultivated in the Nile delta. Papyrus sheets were derived after processing the papyrus plant. Some rolls of papyrus discovered are lengthy, up to 10 meters. The technique for crafting papyrus was lost over time, but was rediscovered by an Egyptologist in the 1940s.
Papyrus texts illustrate all dimensions of ancient Egyptian life and include literary, religious, historical and administrative documents. The pictorial script used in these texts ultimately provided the model for two most common alphabets in the world, the Roman and the Arabic.


The distinct contrast that can be noted between forms and the background in most works of art is called the fihgure-ground relationship.
The figure-ground principle is the phenomenon that
humans separate whatever it is they are looking at into two
parts, figure and ground. Figure 1 presents a famous
figure-ground illusion that was studied by Danish
psychologist Edgar J. Rubin (1915/1921). One can see the
figure as either a white vase on a black background or as
two black faces on a white background. In either case, one
can see the edge between the figure and ground as forming
the boundary of the figure but not the ground. The figure is
perceived as being in front of the ground and the ground is
perceived as continuing behind the figure.

Well sadly enough shit is begiinning to hit the fence!!

Malaysian have done it again true to the Malaysia Boleh! proclamation we are now out to burn churches and any other houses of worship ( which are actually houses of God) if they too are found to use the word Allah! It is pathetic to see how decadent the human mind has stooped itself to become subjecting itself to such mockery despite claiming ourselves to be civilized!!

What is the big deal in using the word if it is used in a positive and reverence context by anyone so long as it is not abused to undermine Islam through derogatory application of the word. And who for goodness sakes would want to besmears the name of the AlMighty even if it is understood to be that of the Muslim faith unless it for the sake of destruction of society at its very fabric.

Now we have church burnings, tomorrow what? Mosques? Hindu temples? Sikh temples, Buddhist temples?

Does it Mean God?

The word "Allah" is the perfect description of the "One God" of monotheism for Jews, Christians and Muslims!

Is "Allah" only for Islam and Muslims?[No! It is for All Three Abrahamic Faiths.]"Allah" is the same word used by Christian Arabs and Jewish Arabs in their Bible, centuries before Islam came.On page one [1] of Genesis in the Old Testament, we find the word "Allah" seventeen [17] times.Every hotel and motel has a Bible. Next time you see one look in the introduction, you will find samples of the different languages they have translated. For Arabic they have translated the verse in the New Testament in Arabic from the famous verse in the Gospel John 3:16 -"For God so loved the world..."- and the word the translators used in Arabic for "God" is the very same word used by Muslims around the planet, "Allah."Where Does the word "Allah" Come From?"Allah" comes from the Arabic word "elah"a god' or something worshiped. - (Arabic) means 'This word (elah) can be made plural (gods), as in "aleha" and it can be male or female just as the word in English can be "goddess.""Allah" comes from "elaha" but it brings more clarification and understanding.Allah = Has no gender (not male and not female) "He" is used only out of respect and dignity - not for genderAllah = Always singular - Never plural "We" is used only as the "Royal WE" just as in English for royaltyAllah = Means "The Only One to be Worshipped"

"First of all, it is important to note that "Allah" is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word "Allah" being used where "God" is used in English. (Click here to see some examples of the word "Allah" in the Arabic Bible.) This is because "Allah" is the only word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word "God" with a capital "G". Additionally, the word "Allah" cannot be made plural or given gender (i.e. masculine or feminine), which goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic concept of God. Because of this, and also because the Qur'an, which is the holy scripture of Muslims, was revealed in the Arabic language, some Muslims use the word "Allah" for "God", even when they are speaking other languages"

"This brings us to a more important point: It should be clearly understood that what Islam is primarily concerned with is correcting mankind's concept of Almighty God. What we are ultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer the word "Allah" over the word "God", but what our concept of God is. Language is only a side issue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word "Allah", and likewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word "God".

"Allah as the creator of heaven and earth, and yet failing to draw the only possible conclusion from their belief; which is, to worship Allah and none else besides Him. 'If thou ask them who hath created the Heavens and the Earth, and hath imposed laws upon the sun and the moon, they will certainly say, "Allah". . If thou ask them who sendeth rain from Heaven, and by it quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead, they will certainly answer "Allah"' (Sura 29, 6 1 and 63). "

"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the East or the West, not out of the ocean or up from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist..."
Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi

From the above quotes one can deduce that the Name Allah preexisted islam and why not, what is wrong with that? Does it make islam any less of a religion? Alah is eternal, timeless without a beginning or an end...blah blah! But still we especially the die hard Muslim who act throguh their emotions (often with lack of knowledge) than their hearts and minds will always become overly defensive of our religion even if it defies all intelligence in doing so. Ironically like it or not we are ones making a mockery of our religion not the so called non-believers. Over-zealousness is fanaticism and fanaticism often breeds terrorism all in the name of relgion.

Friday, January 08, 2010

I am now a lecturer!(parttime)

My first class of Introduction to Art History consisted of forty five Chinese students who had just finished secondary school levels of education. Most have a tough time understanding what i was talking about I realized after digging deeper into their bored minds. So I had to switch to a lower gear and slowed down until I was teaching English as well as Art History. It was not easy to gain their complete attention as most had their headphones glued to their ears half the time and most sat chatting away among themselves whenever I read from my notes and they find it difficult to follow.

I told them of my having lived abroad and some of the things that I did in school and this seemed to grab their attention for awhile it even earned a little better respect from one or two hardcore bored ones. I also found out how weak their English was by making them each stand up and read to the class a paragraph from the handouts and this too seem to work as most listened more closely to what was being read by their fellow student. It also gave me a chance to correct their pronunciation.

In this beginning class i introduced to them common artistic terminologies like what is aesthetics, beauty, style etc. to which hardly anyone dared to venture and answer or tried to until very much coaxing. So i set them an assignment of answering these questions to be handed in next class.
" Creation is never in the hands of the individual. It ceases entirely when individuality, with its capacities, gifts, techniques and so on, becomes dominant. Creation is the movement of the unknowable essence of the whole; it is never the expression of the part."

I started the Art history lesson by introducing them to The Art of Prehistoric Man and showed them slides of various historical objects and explained to the best of my ability the significance of the art pieces which included, The cave paintings, Venus of Willendorf, the Plaster heads of Jericho , the Stonehenge etc. I had to do allot more tutorial on the subject matter than I thought as I could tell that most of the students were lost. I insisted on the students to stay focus on the class by telling them of the significance of the Fertility or child bearing significance of the Willendorf figurine and an how compared to present day child bearing has become so decadent that we find foetuses being discarded in toilet bowls and garbage dump or babies being harvest and sold by syndicates like cattle. This sort of woke them up to a little bit of reality.

Overall I find their lack of ability to grasp the language as a major handicap and to pursue the course as according that which is being set by the school would be unproductive and would do them a disservice. The students will have to be taught at a slower pace and with greater focus being shed upon their grasping the basics as a foundation towards their understanding and mastering the subject matter.
Personally I enjoyed the class as i too am in the process of learning and i even told the students that they were my teacher and that together we were going to dive into the prehistoric waters of art and in the process become better acquainted with the contemporary art works.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Art of Prehistoric Man

When did man start creating works of ART?
What prompted him to do so?
What did these early works of Art looks like?
When was the Prehistoric Era?
Lower and Middle Paleolithic: c. 750,000-40,000 BC
Upper Paleolithic: c. 40,000-10,000 BC
Mesolithic: c. 8,000-6,000 BC
Megan Ogborn

Man began to walk on two feet some 4 million years ago it is believed, and some 2million later man began creating tools. The first craft man was involved in was perfecting these tools and the period in which these events occured has come to be known as the Paleolithic age or the Stone Age.

Homo sapiens or man during the period of the retreating ice age mostly dwelled in caves and over croppings that afforded shelter from the cold as well as wild animals. These early ancestors of man by my imagination would have had plenty of time on their hands especially during the nights other than trying to keep themselves warm swapping stories of their daytime hunting and gathering activities, they most probably did alot of scribbling with the charcoal sticks from their fire place. It was through these scribblings and sketching that inadvertantly that one 0r two became more imaginative and decided to start scribbling on the walls and rock faces around them. Seeing that these sketches were interesting subjects especially of the animals and daytime activities, they were further encauraged to persue these picture making by the rest ofthe clan which till this day has given us exquisite works of art in thf from of wall paintings or murals as it is known today.

What is Prehistoric Art?
"Prehistoric art can be several things, from megaliths to little stone figurines, to paintings on the walls of caves. The term “prehistoric” indicates that the culture that produced the artwork did not have a written language. Some of the more famous examples are Stonehenge, the Nasca lines in Peru, and Lascaux Cave. Prehistoric artifacts and artwork can be found all over the world. "
Megan Ogborn

"Early on, when man had but a basic understanding of himself, it is theorized that he (they) had a basic religious belief. The belief was in Animism and The Locus Mundi. Animism is the term given to the belief that everything has its own spirit, or energy. Not just things we consider “alive”, but hills, waterfalls, the air you breathe, all of these had energy. The energy had to come from somewhere though, hence, The Locus Mundi. The Locus Mundi is the center of all life, where all the energy of all things comes from, and where it will go when it dies. Somehow, in some way, it is said that the belief in animism became a widely practiced religion. The main focus of the practice was the shaman. The shaman was almost always an artist, and would draw or make something. An example of his work would be a cave painting. He would then take some of his anima and infuse it into what he created. The pictures were extremely general, so whatever he painted or made he turned into a prediction or spell of what was to come. For instance, drawing a bison being hunted on a cave wall (like the ones on the walls at the Lascaux cave) would be like a spell a shaman would “cast” for a good hunt."

The Venus of Willendorf is one of the earliest images of the body made by humankind. It stands just over 4 ½ inches high and was carved some 25,000 years ago. It was discovered on the banks of the Danube River, in Austria, and it was most likely made by hunter-gatherers who lived in the area. The environment at that time was much colder and bleaker then present-day, a remnant of Europe's last ice age.
From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter One
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

Map of France

Lascaux may be the most beautiful Paleolithic painted cave in the world. It contains more than 1500 pictures of animals, all of them are 17,000 years old.

There are many other pictures here. All of these are from the D├ępartement d'Art Pari├ętal. You can also browse these sites dealing with Paleolithic painted caves:
The above two images can be found at this site:
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The cave of Lascaux this information is at

In dealings with the spirit world, primitive man was not content to perform ritual or to present offerings before his spirit trap, he needed to act out his relations with simmilar dramatic ceremonials in which he himself could temporaryly assume the role of the spirit by disguising himself with elborate masks and costumes. The origins of these dance rituals goes back as far as the Old Stone Age and ther are indications that the disguises were worn even then. There are masks made not to be wornat all but to be diplayed independantly as images complete in themselves. The emphasis on the mysterious and the spectacular not only heightened the dramatic impact of the ritual, it also permitted the makers of the masks to strive for imaginative new effects so that masks in general are less subjected to traditional restrictions than other kinds of primitive sculptures.
H.W. Janson
History of Art, pg. 49

Using sea-shells as paint containers and working by candlelight, Stone Age artists employed a wide variety of painting methods. Initially, they painted with their fingers; before switching to lumpy pigment crayons, pads of moss, or brushes made of animal hair or vegetable fibre. They even employed spray painting techniques using reeds or specially hollowed bones. They employed foreshortening and shadowing techniques. Each era introduced new cave painting methods, and caves decorated over many generations exhibit numerous styles - at Lascaux, for instance, archeologists have identified over a dozen different painting styles.

Stone Age painters employed several different combinations of materials to make coloured paints. Clay ochre provided three basic colours: numerous varieties of red, plus yellow and brown. For black colour, artists used either manganese dioxide or charcoal. After grinding the pigments to fine powder, artists mixed the powder with cave water (typically high in calcium carbonate) animal fats, vegetable juice, blood and urine to help it stick to the rock surface. They also used extenders like biotite and feldspar, or ground quartz and calcium phosphate (obtained from crushed, heated animal bone).

Sometimes. In the cave of La Vache, archeologists found a layer of charcoal underneath the black pigment of the paintings, indicating that a preparatory sketch had been made prior to the application of paint. Sometimes, the silhouette of the subject was incised in the rock first, then painted with pigment.In addition to paintings, Stone Age artists produced a huge number of engravings, both figurative and abstract. In fact, at present, the world's oldest art consists of engravings on rock surfaces - either in caves, on cliffs and on stones. Famous examples of Paleolithic engraving include: the quartzite petroglyphs at the Auditorium Cave and Daraki-Chattan Cave in Madhya Pradesh, Central India (both dated from the Acheulian culture c.200,000 - 500,000 BCE). The abstract engravings found on two pieces of ochre at the Blombos Cave, 200 miles east of Capetown, South Africa, are dated from the Mousterian culture, roughly 70,000 BCE. It is the oldest known site of African Art. Other examples include: the French Lortet Cave reindeer engravings on a fragment of antler (c.15,000 BCE), and the figurative engravings of the Addaura Cave in Sicily (c.11,000 BCE).

Cosquer Cave, near Marseille, France
Discovered by the deep-sea diver Henri Cosquer in 1985, and dating from 25,000 BCE, the entrance to Cosquer cave is situated over 100 feet below sea level. It contains, hand stencils, charcoal drawings and about 100 polychrome paintings of horses and other animals. For details and photos, please see: Cosquer Cave Paintings.

"Art (and creativity in general), is something essential to human development. This urge has been with us for as long as we have walked the earth. Something possessed those early men and women living in the caves of Spain and southern France to depict those images that reflected their daily lives. Something possessed them to carve those little trinkets that they chose to wear somewhere on their bodies and/or bury them with their dead. Some other ancient cultures were driven to mark their bodies and others were driven to make idols and other representations of their gods or fellow humans. It's something essential to being human....the role of the artist is to lift the spirit of the people and/or to rage against any form of injustice that they perceive in their given society, sometimes at great risk to their own lives as well as their friends and families. "

Julian Gallo

Art History!! Why the need to...

"Learning never exhaust the mind."
Leonardo Da Vinci

"Art is an Aesthetic Object."
H.W.Janson (History of Art)
What is Aesthetic?
That which concerns the beautiful.
Aesthetics (also esthetics) is the subfield of philosophy concerning beauty and Art. It spans all the areas of the artistic endeavors including the visual arts (e.g. paintings and sculpture) music, the performing arts and literature.
Questions on Aesthetics includes:-
What is Art?
What is non-Art?
What do the various Art have in common?
What if anything makes some art good or bad?
Can Art be evaluated objectively or only subjectively, (i.e. are aesthetic properties merely in the eyes of the beholder or "matters of taste?")
What is the importance of Art, to whom and for what?
What effects can a work of art have on an observer?
How does one interprete a work of art?
What is beauty and what is its relatioship to Art?
What is the connection of Art and Ethics?
From; Epistelinks Website.
"Art is an invention of Aesthetics which in turn is an invention of philosophers...what we call Art is a game."
Octavio Paz
"Leonardo da Vinci combined Art and Science and Aesthetics and Engineering, that kind of unity is needed once again"
Ben Schneiderman

On Beauty:-
"Beauty is however you see it."
Utah Edu. Network

"I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful."
"Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the Heart."
Khalil Gibran
"When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lilly with the other."
A Chinese Proverb
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."
"Beauty is related to Truth."

On Style:-
"Style is derived from from 'stilus' the writing instrument of the anncient Romans. It refered to distinctive ways of writing- the shape of the letters as well as the choice of words- Nowadays, however a style is used loosely to mean the distinctive way a thing is done in any field of human endeavor. It is simply a term of praise in most cases, to have style means to to have disticntion, to stand out.
To Art Historians the study of styles is of central importance, it not only enables to find out by means of careful analysis and comparison, when and where and (by whom) a given work is produced but it slao leads them to understand the artists's intention as expressed through the style of his work."
History of Art, Janson

On Design:-
"Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design just as Art, has multiple defination. Design can be art. Design can be Aesthetics. Design is so simple, that is why it is so complicated."
Paul Rand
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, thats creativity."
Charlse Mingus
"Perfection is achieved not when there in nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Antoine De saint Eupry
"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union."
Frank Lloyd Wright