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The Big Picture (overview)

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John Hoey

on 10 December 2016

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Transcript of The Big Picture (overview)

Since we all come from the same place, one way or another, I've gone as far back as possible and followed the evolution of several visual "languages." What we should hopefully see is not only the language progression, but how much it influences, and is influenced by, the bigger picture.
At the core of following these languages is the concept of synthesizing languages (Andrey Vyshedskiy, "On the Origin of the Human Mind"). Because of the development of the human mind and supportive social environment, some sensory languages have evolved to allow the communicator to synthesize new information and images in the observer's mind. We'll consider how different languages and forms adapt during key encephalization events.
https://books.google.com/books?id=rsZdVt_JOZoC&dq=inauthor:"Andrey+Vyshedskiy"&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFq_rM8ZvMAhUIdj4KHadgDDsQ6AEIHTAA
An encephalization event is something that increases the amount of brain mass an animal has, possibly increasing the intelligence level. For humans there have been numerous environmental forces that one way or another bring about a change. But as humans we understand that it's not always the size, it's what one does with it that's important. Along with those environmental influences, I would like us to consider other events in our history that help change the fundamental structure of how our brain works and perceives the world around us.
We will look at how the development of tools, fire, abstract thought and the neolithic revolution altered human understanding and perceptions, and how we behaved based on reactions to this sensory input. The timeline above traces the journey of human development beginning in the lower paleolithic through current (left half). On the right is a closer view starting in the middle to upper paleolithic. The blue line shows sea level changes...just for fun.
Starting with the manipulation of stone tools and their common usage to set us apart from most other animals...
...we'll follow the development of visual language and expression through the exciting first part of the neolithic revolution.
This is the general model of the developing mind integrating the concepts of Andreas Demetiou and Robbie Case. This model shows the development of the human mind as it grows. The progression through the stages and expansion of the domains is typically applied to the growth of a human individual. I would like to propose that this model can also be used in context to the growth of the human species as a whole. Humans are not unique in their use of tools, language, expression, etc., but this model begins to show the complexity and depth of the cognitive systems. However, in order to view it for our purposes we need to twist it on its side a little...
1- Sensormotor Stage
Instead of the model in the shape of a tube, think of it as a cone that grows volumetrically as it develops. Not that the brain grows this much physically, but the organic systems in use increase potential mental capacities.
This way we can see how much our mental capacity increases in each domain area as the brain grows.
If the model is placed alongside the timeline from the use of stone tools to the common use of fire, we can begin to imagine how that early mind would have begun to develop for humankind as a whole. I know this is wildly innacurate at times. What I'm hoping to show is that this model as an inspiration helps us understand the constant state of growth and expansion the human cognitive system is in, and provides us an elegant method to describe it.
Animations are cool, but I hope this also gives an idea of the drastic change in volume even the slightest increase of circumference brings.
One more thing to consider along with concepts of synthesizing languages and stages of cognitive development, is the essential idea of the change in the way the human mind works when it learns to read. As Aleksandr Luria in "Cognitive Development" indicates, reading (and the process of learning to read) is a multimodal exercise incorporating auditory, visual, and cognitive/predictive elements of language comprehension. The communication architecture of the mind is forever changed from those that can't read. Learning to read is nearly a prerequisite for abstract thought. Now think about the mind learning to read languages other than a written one and how the mind must expand in those domains, as well. The languages build on each other over time, opening the mind further and further.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Piagetian_theories_of_cognitive_development
https://books.google.com/books/about/Cognitive_Development.html?id=ZQX2WmMJUMcC
http://www.medical-neurosciences.de/fileadmin/user_upload/microsites/studiengaenge/neurosciences/cns-2014-v7i3.pdf
With all of that as guide for examination, let's look at areas that bring about a type of encephilization event in human mental, language and social development. As we do, I would like to propose the following idea...The core of how the human mind perceives and functions changes significantly during these time periods because of the combination of certain elements allowing a greater comprehension and expression of the world, as well an understanding of the dynamic relationships involved. The key factors are the ability to see and comprehend non-tangible elements, developing a synthesizing language to quantify the abstract, and the use of complex rituals to communicate.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/gorillas-agree-human-frontal-cortex-is-nothing-special/
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royptb/367/1599/2130.full.pdf
https://books.google.com/books/about/People_of_the_Earth.html?id=M8lwCgAAQBAJ
http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/departments/zoology/members/eilam/documents/NBR302006.pdf
http://public.wsu.edu/~rquinlan/mptoup.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Dissanayake
http://listverse.com/2015/03/04/10-of-the-oldest-pieces-of-art-ever-created/
http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric-art.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Dissanayake
http://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics/Faculty/mrossano/gradseminar/evo%20of%20ritual/ritual%20and%20social%20norms.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894666/
http://www.livescience.com/4427-apes-point-origins-human-language.html
http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/departments/zoology/members/eilam/documents/NBR302006.pdf
http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/departments/zoology/members/eilam/documents/NBR302006.pdf
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royptb/367/1599/2130.full.pdf
https://books.google.com/books/about/People_of_the_Earth.html?id=M8lwCgAAQBAJ
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Dissanayake
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Dissanayake
http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/departments/zoology/members/eilam/documents/NBR302006.pdf
http://listverse.com/2015/03/04/10-of-the-oldest-pieces-of-art-ever-created/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894666/
http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/departments/zoology/members/eilam/documents/NBR302006.pdf
http://ancientplanet.blogspot.gr/2012/05/vol-1-2012-contents.html#more
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/6/1889.full
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929314000516
http://noosphere-project.8m.com/doc/enoo6.html
http://public.wsu.edu/~rquinlan/mptoup.htm
http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/2013/03/vol-4-2013-preview-contents.html#.Vxg6jUHXFN5
http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/2013/03/vol-4-2013-preview-contents.html#.VxgkiEHXFN4
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity
http://www.jstor.org/stable/827901?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
http://www.essential-humanities.net/art-overview/stone-age/
http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric-art.htm
http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/2013/03/vol-4-2013-preview-contents.html#.Vxg76EHXFN5
Manipulated stone tools starts this whole thing off. As with the other events, the understanding of the creation process used for stone tools opens a new cognitive level for the mind. For the first time we comprehend that the tangible world around us can be altered and manipulated. For each event, let's look at a couple different areas...
The brain allows us to do so many things, but not always what's obvious. As it developed in our ancestors, the groundwork was laid for more advanced communication between different areas of the brain. Regardless of one's view on the relationship of the neo-frontal cortex, there are numerous other influences that helped humankind develop not only the cranial capacity, but the neural systems, as well. There are some amazing structural developments that happen from one epoch to another that then allow an exponential increase in more complex neurological systems.
Many animals are considered social creatures. Humans, as is their fashion, have taken it to new levels. The manner in which the social dynamic grows is fascinating and intrinsically linked with other languages and manners of expression.
In each era there is a constant use of objects, or tools. Again, humans are not unique to this. We'll follow the use and progression of tool development not only as a practical function of daily life, but in how it affects and is influenced by other areas of life. One area in particular that will be considered is the use of "ritual" in day to day usage and as information preservation for future generations.
Along with practical and tangible tools, the progression and development of abstract thought and symbolic expression grows by leaps and bounds into unprecedented areas, setting the stage for complex individual/group social identification expression and rituals. The ability in modern humans traces back to this point, and beyond. We'll follow the path of the (probable) where, (possible) why, and (hopefully) how this language develops, it's relationship with the other areas, and how the idea of ritual carries it through the ages.
The discovery and common use of fire changes the game of perception. The human mind starts to comprehend that there are other states of being that an object can attain with thermal change. The very idea that there is another non-tangible world within the tangible world alters the way the brain functions and the way humans perceive the world.
Symbolic expression isn't limited to its event happening only here. Modern humans are standing on the shoulders of giants, whether they realize it or not. As with fire, it took a millennium to come into common usage. But the stage was set for the human mind to develop languages that we still don't completely understand. As the mind changed with the acquisition of learning to read these new languages, so does the complexity of expression.
With the global cultural shift of the neolithic revolution and the common usage of such things as advanced languages and social ritual, the human mind is allowed to shape complex symphonies of paradigms in the same way it shaped simpler ideas.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaîne_opératoire
And now let's think about each element of a language as being similar in thought process and social development as a stone tool. Behind every tool was a complex set of ideas. This is a diagram of a chaîne opératoire and it wonderfully illustrates the production process of a simple implement. It shows not just the physical components of the process, but the options involved in the decision making process behind each step. By understanding these decisions we can understand the larger social and cognitive contexts. We'll use this as a standard model to think about how other tools of languages are developed. And now, to completely paraphrase (and probably tarnish the honorable Msrs. Mauss, Leroi-Gourham and Haudricourt's lifetime efforts) is my over simplification of it....
The first step is identification and acquisition of the needed resource. This involves memory of, for example, what rocks are best, the potential of its current form, and ability to imagine its use and new potential forms in the future.
The next step, refinement of the initial resource, is a combination of a typically ritualized processing technique coupled with an anticipated future usage in two possible ways. On the left we see our clever ancestor (however they self-identify) refining. On the right, a possible next step is a further (fine) refinement using a different processing technique to achieve the desired result. But another possible intention of either could be for its direct use...
At this step is the practical usage of the tool. It can have any application from hunting of animals to domestic use. In its usage however, it may become damaged. After assessing the functional state of the tool, its future use was deliberated along two paths. If its structural potential and time investment was salvageable...
It can be reprocessed and refined further for return to practical use. Or...
It can be discarded. If the expenditure of energies needed to keep the resource viable within that social context was greater than its worth, it could simply be discarded. This could happen after any number of deliberated cycles. But even after it was thrown away by one individual...
It can be identified by someone else as a potential resource, and the whole process begins again. It gave rise to the paleolithic saying "One caveman's garbage is another's hide scraper."
(Click anywhere on the image)
We'll look at many elements in reference to the chaîne opératoire and their relationship to individual/group expressions in analogous forms to those listed on the left. As I agree with Oscar Wilde in some instances that "To define is to limit," I hope to view these areas more as constructs and see both differences and similarities.
Storytelling
Tools
Trade
Visual Art
Language
Not that other living entities express themselves in the way that humans do, but the cognitive factors that allow these expressions predate the stone age, and some are even possessed by other animals. On these adventures we'll look at...
The interaction with others in which goods and services are exchanged that helps establish a dynamic identity and exchange of ideas.
http://www.johnstephenhoey.com/hoce-paleolithic/
How an individual or group presents narrative depictions of itself to others. This may go back further than we think. As one of my life's main pursuits, I've seen its primal language manifested around the world.
How an individual or group presents visual depictions of itself to others evolves in tandem with narrative, written and verbal languages.
The articulation of physical/verbal expressions that progresses ultimately to a formalized aural and then written form.
The way tools also become an expression of individual and group identity.
Shelter and garments
Starting in this era, I'm adding an adaptation of the chaîne opératoire to reflect the process of the development of a movement/visual language (the drawings are based on body shapes from Alvin Ailey's "Revelations"). This will be used to exemplify more and more complex expressions.
Here, like the identification of the base resource for a stone tool, the shape of the natural environment is examined for shapes that are a potential for applied expression.
The first refinement, its manipulation for use, is the abstraction of the physical natural movement to something that can be recreated with the body, with other visual elements, or aurally.
The next refinement/articulation is individual expansion of the shape, or by adding other iterations.
Either refinement is eventually attempted in productive use. In this image we see a human recreating the natural shape to an audience at the fireside. Depending on how this language element works and if it successfully informs the observer, its options are continued use, further refinement, or...
If it doesn't meet expectations, it will be discarded. And like a stone tool, it could be recycled by someone else.
If it continues its use could expand or go through a continual process of further refinement and expansion.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaîne_opératoire
The same way we use the chaîne opératoire, we can use this as a pattern for our languages. As with any other tool, the worth of each element must provide a value of some kind or it will not continue.
2- Inter-relational Stage
3- Dimensional Stage
4- Abstract Stage
1- Sensormotor Stage
2- Inter-relational Stage
3- Dimensional Stage
4- Abstract Stage
4- Abstract Stage
1- Sensormotor Stage
2- Inter-relational Stage
3- Dimensional Stage
4- Abstract Stage
1- Sensormotor Stage
2- Inter-relational Stage
3- Dimensional Stage
The manner in which we house and clothe ourselves. As time progresses these expressions become immediate identifiers of time, place and culture.
http://www.johnstephenhoey.com/hoce-paleolithic/
http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/2013/03/vol-4-2013-preview-contents.html#.Vxg6jUHXFN5
http://www.johnstephenhoey.com/hoce-paleolithic/
http://www.johnstephenhoey.com/hoce-paleolithic/
Let me begin with the following statement....I have no idea what I'm talking about. I come from a world far away from anything scientific. But as someone who also searches for a type of truth, I'm realizing that we are often speaking about the same thing just from a slightly different viewpoint.

The following is an overview of the concepts that are guides for an exploration into several ideas involving the arts and the way mankind expresses themselves. Because there can be no rational answers without an understanding of the complex physical and biological systems involved, I've made an effort to understand. And I've attempted to express the correlation between the worlds of art and science by applying a scientific methodology to expressive evolution.

As my language is more visually based, I've tried to present this in a way that may only make sense to me. Please forgive any confusing images, overlapping ideas, unintentional plagiarism, etc,.

http://prezi.com/j_fefi-z4n5e/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
All of that provides a framework and scientific approach to start to examine how different visual languages, or artistic maxims develop.
Please see the following links

The origin of the theatrical ritual.
Why we feel what we see.
Visual language as precursor to written languages.
Full transcript