Friday, November 6, 2015

What’s The Use of Art? by Faiz Syed

What’s The Use of Art?
            Art has been an essential key to the survival of humans ever since their beginnings in the Paleolithic age.  In the Paleolithic times, art allowed people to articulate skills, messages, and observances to other humans.  In modern times, art allows humans to visualize phenomena of the past, and to predict the changes of the future.  It captures the skills and technologies used in the present to ensure that these skills and technologies are not lost in the future.  The great value of art can be seen by the great precautionary measures that the French government took when the oldest art in the world was discovered in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave.  These early paintings in the cave were drawn during the Paleolithic time and they now serve to help historians and archaeologists analyze and greater understand the way of life during that time period.  The use of art to articulate ideas helped generations build on ideas of the past, and the use of art to visualize the past, document the present, and predict the future makes it valuable to societies of any age.
            Paleolithic paintings such as those discovered in the cave at Chauvet, are important in many ways.  During the Paleolithic age, such paintings allowed people to improve the technologies of the past.  Paintings allowed Paleolithic people to document their skills and technologies in an easy way for new generations to acquire knowledge of the same technologies and skills.  New generations would acquire this skill through mirror neurons.  Mirror neurons in the brain allow humans to mimic actions that they see.  When new generations of Paleolithic people saw paintings of the technologies of the past, the mirror neurons in their brains allowed them to retain the skills of their ancestors by mimicking them. This allowed technologies to be passed on for generations.  An example of this can be seen in the painting of multiple people hunting animals with bows and arrows at the Lascaux cave.  This painting of the bows and arrows would ensure that the skill and use of the bow and arrow is passed on to the next generation. 
            Paleolithic paintings are also important to historians who use them as one of the only ways to picture the life and traditions of the Paleolithic people.  There is little archaeological evidence that exists of this time period, and this results in heavier emphasis on Paleolithic art to give historians more knowledge of the time period.  For example, many of the paintings at Chauvet depicted animals.  One of these examples is a painting of a bison.  Historians use this painting to guess that bison were important to the Paleolithic people, and because they were hunters, there is a chance that bison was one of the animals that they hunted for food.  These Paleolithic paintings provide great examples to modern day historians about Paleolithic life.  The French government recognizes the importance of the cave art, and that is why they closed off the Chauvet cave to the public. They also took precautionary measures to preserve the art in the cave, even when the movie, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, was being filmed about the art in the cave.  
            Werner Herzog, the director of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, ascribes great value to art, and especially to Paleolithic art.  He views art as amusement, and as a means to view the lives of people from the past.  In his director’s statement, he says that when he was twelve years old, he bought a book about the caves of Lascaux so that he could see the lives of people before the “domestication of animals and before the invention of agriculture.”  Werner Herzog’s view of art is one of art’s many values: its ability to show people the lives of people from the past.  It creates images in people’s minds about distinctions of the world of the past and that of the present.  However, art can also be used to predict the world of the future.  There are paintings that depict the painter’s ideas of the world of the future.  These two reasons, of viewing the past and the future through art, is a main reason why many people go to visit art museums.  Many people want to be able to see the lives of the people from the past, and to see how the future will change. 

            Art played an important role in the development of human societies and technologies ever since the Paleolithic period.  It allowed humans to visualize technologies and skills of the past, and allowed them to think of ways to improve upon technologies of the past.  Art has helped the human race develop new skills and has helped them become more technologically advanced over time.  Art is a very important part of the human race and always has been.  Although many artists are not well compensated for the art that they create, they do it because it is necessary for humans to improve and because many people with artistic talents enjoy creating art.  Because of the ability of art to help improve the skills and abilities of the human race, it is one of the most important parts of the human culture.

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