The following is from an on-going project begun in 2006, called "Culture by Design." It centers around the history about how art and design have driven our culture and transformed technology.

FROM CAVES TO COMPUTERS

The following is from an on-going project begun in 2006, called "Culture by Design." It centers around the history about how art and design have driven our culture and transformed technology.

This project provides the basis for Media/Culture Magazine.

INTRODUCTION

BACK IN '94

The Ardeche River valley in the Pyrenees Mountains southeastern France, near Vallon-Pont-díArc, is rich with caves and is a spelunker’s paradise. The more scientific of these cave explorers, called speleologists, are geologist-archaeologists, and in December of 1994 a trio of them, led by Jean-Marie Chauvet, made a discovery in one of the larger of the caves which would set art history back over 5000 years.

   Along with some fossilized bones of extinct animals and more recent evidence of cave bears, there were remains of hundreds of paintings on the cave walls. Protected by the chill and darkness of the cave along with just the right amount of humidity, these spectacular paintings have been dated back roughly 30,000 BCE, 5,000 years before the more sophisticated Magdalenian art unearthed in the 1870s at the Lascaux (Fr) and Altamira caves.​

 The red-orange-yellow pigments were intentionally mixed from earth, iron oxide, juniper berry juice and human spittle, and perhaps animal blood. The animals’ forms are stunningly accurate and are depicted purposely in a flattened perspective, which suggests a deliberate attempt of design. That some of the later ones are painted to the outline of crags of the rock walls, and they are depicted in an amazing relief.

 This must have been humbling to the artist/viewer in flame-light. Though there are hand-prints, there are no paintings of people on the walls, itís generally understood that these prehistoric Rembrandts were of the Aurignacian Culture who existed in the Upper Paleolithic era between 34,000 and 23,000 BCE. They were also a tool-making culture, which explains the deliberate gouging around the shape of some the animal forms. So here is the first recorded instance where art coexists with technology. It is the oldest marriage in history and its stepchild is culture.

 During the same time that Chauvet was deciphering the prehistoric art on the walls of the cave that would bear his name, 23-year old Marc Andreessen, sat in his Mountain View, California office a half a world and 30,000 years away. Marc was at the horns of a dilemma. Following the lead of MITís Tim Bernhers-Leeís experiments in the development and use of hypertext some 12 years earlier, he and his classmate Jim Clark had developed Mosiac, a software mechanism to tie in hypertext to a searching venue: a browser.

  All the elements were in place to make this happen, but the problem was how to market its potential to a general public who had no idea of what the Internet was. The public was indoctrinated to something called the “Information Super Highway,” but they believed that it was some sort of process used in the high and secret levels of government, the military and big-budget productions like NASA. There was no way that a family merely keeping up with car payments could afford something that elaborate. And besides—what would the public do with it once they had it? To Andreessen, it must have been something like trying to pitch motorized flight to a horse-and-buggy consumer base.

    Though many of potential users may have had computers in their office, few had them in their homes, not to mention modems, to run the browser. And though there were commercially released browsers such as Prodigy (which started out as a Sears product packaged with their home computers) and Compuserve (which was regarded as strictly business, and not very user-friendly), they were limited and regarded as unnecessary for general use. Andreessen was undaunted by this and continued refining Mosaic to make it more intuitive.​

    Meantime, his alma mater, the University of Illinois, was not willing to allow him to use the name “Mosaic” as a commercial browser in that he began his work on it there. He changed the name of his browser to Netscape Navigator, and released it to the public in October 1994. Soon he met Ken McCarthy, an Internet marketer who saw the potential of Netscape. Within a few months, inexpensive household computer modems became available, and more and more people began to link to the Internet via Netscape. Andreessen received more than he had bargained for, as his timing was so correct that Netscape and the Internet gave rise to a whole new cultural shift.

    These two simultaneous events, one about as prehistoric as can be imagined, and another, so futuristic in thought, yet so right as to cause an overnight surge in cultural development have one crucial link which puts them right together: Culture thrives on information and communication in order to flourish and grow. Paradoxically it also shows that this growth has become fickle, whether it has lain dormant for 30,000 years, or is an overnight sensation. The Cave paintings are timeless. Andreessen, the wunderkind of 1995, and an example of the strength of the dot-boom era, began to quickly loose ground with Netscape which was overtaken by Microsoft's Internet Explorer in 1997, once the Internet was firmly in place as an intuitive (soon to be dominant) means of interaction.​

   Through the Internet, information grows on top of itself into communication, and communication is how we have come to define ourselves. Andy Warhol stated in 1969 that: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Now that it is the future and that 15 minutes of fame has been reduced to a sound byte and a My Space snapshot in light of our shortening attention spans, as the “Me Decade” of the disco seventies has become the “I-AM” generation of today.

 It’s all based on the formula:

 

Art+Design+Technology=Culture=Progress=
History 

 

and Culture by Design is all about that. F.H. Gombrich states in The Story of Art that there really is no “Art with a capital “A.” but there are artists. Can the same be said for design? Art is free flowing, where design is governed by the canons of commercialism and as such is more    deliberately “structured.” Whereas art comes from the artist’s imagination, does design come from a sense of purpose, driven by focus groups and consumer appeal? This book and DVD will attempt to measure the influence of art on design and by extension upon culture. 

THE ORIGINS OF COMMUNICATION

Cavepaint 7 Chauvet.jpg

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Above: Charcoal-drawn Chauvet cave drawings discovered in 1994 dating between 5,000 and 30,000 years before the ones discovered in the Lascaux caves in 1870.

Below: Later rendering of an ox using pigment. It's commonly believed that women and children executed the cave paintings while the men went out and hunted.

Cavepaint 43.jpg

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Cave-BG.png

It wasn't until roughly 10,000 years later that humans were depicted in the cave art among the animals, suggesting that perhaps animals were considered more sacred than humans.

 The red-orange-yellow pigments were intentionally mixed from earth, iron oxide, juniper berry juice and human spittle, and perhaps animal blood. The animals’ forms are stunningly accurate and are depicted purposely in a flattened perspective, which suggests a deliberate attempt of design. That some of the later ones are painted to the outline of crags of the rock walls, and they are depicted in an astounding relief.

cave_BG_2A.png

The crags in the rock walls and the hanging stalactites provided a fertile surface on which the artists could add dimension to further enhance the rendering. The art became interactive with the stone forms.

Cavepaint 6.jpg
Peace Corps_2.jpg

A new calling for a new generation—

JFK welcomes new volunteers for the Peace Corps, a youth initiative he established soon after he became President.

Teck_2.png

FROM CAVES TO COMPUTERS

THE ORIGINS OF COMMUNICATION

By D.H. ROBBINS

INTRODUCTION

BACK in '94

The Ardeche River valley in the Pyrenees Mountains southeastern France, near Vallon-Pont-díArc, is rich with caves and is a spelunker’s paradise. The more scientific of these cave explorers, called speleologists, are geologist-archaeologists, and in December of 1994 a trio of them, led by Jean-Marie Chauvet, made a discovery in one of the larger of the caves which would set art history back over 5000 years.

   Along with some fossilized bones of extinct animals and more recent evidence of cave bears, there were remains of hundreds of paintings on the cave walls. Protected by the chill and darkness of the cave along with just the right amount of humidity, these spectacular paintings have been dated back roughly 30,000 BCE, 5,000 years before the more sophisticated Magdalenian art unearthed in the 1870s at the Lascaux (Fr) and Altamira caves.​

Cavepaint 7 Chauvet.jpg

Above: Charcoal-drawn Chauvet cave drawings discovered in 1994 dating between 5,000 and 30,000 years before the ones discovered in the Lascaux caves in 1870.

Below: Later rendering of an ox using pigment. It's commonly believed that women and children executed the cave paintings while the men went out and hunted.

Cavepaint 43.jpg
Cave-BG.png

It wasn't until roughly 10,000 years later that humans were depicted in the cave art among the animals, suggesting that perhaps animals were considered more sacred than humans.

 The red-orange-yellow pigments were intentionally mixed from earth, iron oxide, juniper berry juice and human spittle, and perhaps animal blood. The animals’ forms are stunningly accurate and are depicted purposely in a flattened perspective, which suggests a deliberate attempt of design. That some of the later ones are painted to the outline of crags of the rock walls, and they are depicted in an astounding relief.

cave_BG_2A.png

The crags and gouges in the rock walls and the hanging stalactites provided a fertile surface on which the artists could add dimension to further enhance the rendering. The art became interactive with the stone forms. Later gouges were purposely etched out with hand tools.

Cavepaint 6.jpg

Modern day tourists are dwarfed by the size and scope of the paintings. Many of the depictions were on the cave ceilings as high up as 30 feet. Did the pre-historic artists use some sort of advanced-technology like scaffolding to accomplish this?

 This must have been humbling to the artist/viewer in flame-light. Though there are hand-prints, there are no paintings of people on the walls, itís generally understood that these prehistoric Rembrandts were of the Aurignacian Culture who existed in the Upper Paleolithic era between 34,000 and 23,000 BCE. They were also a tool-making culture, which explains the deliberate gouging around the shape of some the animal forms. So here is the first recorded instance where art coexists with technology. It is the oldest marriage in history and its stepchild is culture.

    During the same time that Chauvet was deciphering the prehistoric art on the walls of the cave that would bear his name, 23-year old Marc Andreessen, sat in his Mountain View, California office a half a world and 30,000 years away. Marc was at the horns of a dilemma. Following the lead of MITís Tim Bernhers-Lee's experiments in the development and use of hypertext some 12 years earlier, he and his associate Eric Bina had developed Mosiac, a software mechanism to tie in hypertext to a searching venue: a browser.

Time Bernhers Lee.jpg

 Tim Bernhers-Lee, now Sir Tim Bernhers-Lee, invented the World Wide Web in 1989, then later became the president of the W-3, the World Wide Web Consortium. W-3 established both the specifics and the working rules of the World Wide Web (variously known as: "The Information Highway," The Web, and The Internet, and, according to  comedian/ commentator  Steven Colbert, "The Interweb".)

andreessen2 Fast Comapany.jpg

Marc Andereessen, who, with developing partner Eric Bina, were the founding forces behind Mosaic, the first workable internet browsing system for the internet. The point of Mosaic, was to make it a usable means for a user to browse the Web. Of course, former V.P. Al Gore did not "invent" the Internet, but in 1991 sponsored a bill that allowed Mosaic's development to go ahead.

    All the elements were in place to make this happen, but the problem was how to market its potential to a general public who had no idea of what the Internet was. The public was indoctrinated to something called the “Information Super Highway,” but they believed that it was some sort of process used in the high and secret levels of government, the military and big-budget productions like NASA. There was no way that a family merely keeping up with car payments could afford something that elaborate. And besides—what would the public do with it once they had it? To Andreessen, it must have been something like trying to pitch motorized flight to a horse-and-buggy consumer base.

    Though many of potential users may have had computers in their office, few had them in their homes, not to mention modems, to run the browser. And though there were commercially released browsers such as Prodigy (which started out as a Sears product packaged with their home computers) and Compuserve (which was regarded as strictly business, and not very user-friendly), they were limited and regarded as unnecessary for general use. Andreessen was undaunted by this and continued refining Mosaic to make it more intuitive.​

Prodigy_2.jpg
MosaicForMac_1993.gif

Prodigy (top) was developed in 1984 by IBM and Sears Roebuck Company as bulletin board service for schools and industry. Later it also implemented e-mail,  a fee-based service, limiting users to 30 e-mails a month. Here it is shown circa 1991.  

 

Mosaic, (below the Prodigy graphic) developed by Marc Andreessen in 1993, started out as a corporate system to rival the existing compu-serv one.

Later, in 1994, its step- child, NetScape Navigator (below), was enhanced and made user friendly as the first real internet browser. 

netscape.jpg
AOL.jpg

In the maentime, AOL  (America On-Line) a robust service, had been developed in 1989 to become a  workable consumer e-mail e-mail venue and bulletin board. By 1996 it was at the peak of its popularity, later to become a victim of the 2000 tech bubble burst, though it  is still in limited use today.

    Meantime, Adreessen's alma mater, the University of Illinois, was not willing to allow him to use the name “Mosaic” as a commercial browser in that he began his work on it there. He changed the name of his browser to Netscape Navigator, and released it to the public in October 1994. Soon he met Ken McCarthy, an Internet marketer who saw the potential of Netscape. Within a few months, inexpensive household computer modems became available, and more and more people began to link to the Internet via Netscape. Andreessen received more than he had bargained for, as his timing was so correct that Netscape and the Internet gave rise to a whole new cultural shift.

   These two simultaneous events, the cave paintings  about as prehistoric as can be imagined, and another, so futuristic in thought, yet so right as to cause an overnight surge in cultural development have one crucial link which puts them right together: Culture thrives on information and communication in order to flourish and grow. Paradoxically it also shows that this growth has become fickle, whether it has lain dormant for 30,000 years, or is an overnight sensation. The Cave paintings are timeless. Andreessen, the wunderkind of 1995, and an example of the strength of the dot-boom era, began to quickly loose ground with Netscape which was overtaken by Microsoft's Internet Explorer in 1997, once the Internet was firmly in place as an intuitive (soon to be dominant) means of interaction.​

Teck_2.png

   Through the Internet, information has grown on top of itself into the new normal of communication, and communication is how we have come to define ourselves. Andy Warhol stated in 1969 that: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Now that it is the future and that less than our fifteen  minutes of fame has been reduced to a sound byte and a Twitter, Instagram,or Facebook snapshot in light of our shortening attention spans, as the “Me Decade” of the disco seventies has developed over the last forty years to into “I-AM” generation of today.

 It’s all based on the formula:

 

Art+Design+Technology=Culture=Progress=
History 

 

and Culture by Design is all about that. F.H. Gombrich states in The Story of Art that there really is no “Art with a capital “A.” but there are artists. Can the same be said for design? Art is free flowing, where design is governed by the canons of commercialism and as such is more    deliberately “structured.”

   Whereas art comes from the artist’s imagination, does design come from a sense of purpose, driven by focus groups and consumer appeal? This series, presented as ongoing features in future  releases of Media-Culture, will attempt to measure the influence of art , then design. and by extension, upon technology  to influence our culture. 

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