Physical Anthropology

The Role of Art in Human Evolution

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"The Role of Art in Human Evolution"
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Eye, hand coordination, we take for granted. Some of us are more gifted than others in this area due to an imagination. The evolution of the imagination is real. No doubt about it. DaVinci imagined a helicopter hundreds of years before one was ever built. He was so ahead of his time, it gives me the goose pimples just to think of it.

Spatial intelligence, that ability to hold depth and width within the mind and calculate, surely was enhanced by art. Whether buildings, drawings or child's blocks.

I was, as a teenager, cut off from my imagination and it became a dark place. I almost lost it as an adult, thanks to prescribed medications. I call my imagination, my Library. Sometimes, my Library puts on some fascinating and colorful shows. I paint them from time to time. The role of this experience has made me mentally, more healthy. Therefore, it has aided in my own personal evolution.

On a more macro-social, historical level, visual and musical arts have proven to be prophetic, inspirational, divinely awesome and mathematically acute. Thus, a greater architectural influence. We wanted our buildings to be more beautiful and space efficient. Art and music often act as plateaus, so to speak, where society envisions itself and consumerism gets involved. Fashion Designer's suddenly crank out lovely pieces and we envision ourselves a lovely new era.

Archeaology, wonderful old Science that it is, is really the hunt for man's art. What did he do when he became bored? How did he drink his wine? From a clay cup or a goblet? What jewelry did he wear? What forms of religious symbolism will we find? What sort of fabrics went into his haute couture?

I believe that Archeaology actually sprung from an Art inspired moment. Like the heiroglyphs on a cave wall, which speak to us, "I was here". Archeaology saw it and the hunt began. Tell us more, the Archeaologist said.

How else, but by art, could the Cellular Biologist get his point across? Sure, he could explain DNA and where it was. He could write it as a text but without the drawings, it somehow, lacks something. The Anatomist sketched the human body and the location of organs.

I think Art has been the unsung lover of Science for a long time. Terribly taken for granted and kept lower. What good is Science without inspiration? It is like a very beautiful cup with a hole in it. Nice to look at but not worth much. I've been known to keep a beautiful object with a hole in it and in a rational moment of spring cleaning, toss it. Should any of you decide to toss out a Van Gogh or Renoir, call me ahead of time. I'll be waiting at the back door like an awestruck bum.

Science often looks at the here and now and attempts empirically rational explanations. Art, often times intuits what will be. Art is the reminder of what could be, perhaps what should be and prods the jaded to envision it.

When Michelangelo painted the Cistene chapel, he defied gravity and the rules of painting. Defying gravity and breaking rules, is evolutionary. Painting upside down sounds so childish, does it not? And yet no one poopoos that work of art.

As they look up. Up and beyond.

More about this author: G E Barr

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