02 August 2014

Angular nature of some stone material forces Cubism-like constraints on prehistoric artists as well as modern-day interpreters

Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio. Interpreted as a left human facial profile.

Moving viewing perspective to the left to see a "straight-on" view of the face. An interpreted tongue for this perspective has been highlighted in red. The eye circled at left in the photo above is composed of an excavation of stone to create a bas relief triangular eye in its socket.

There are two ground nostril divots in the quartz crystals which I have circled in the photo above. The stone material does not allow addition of the nostrils in the representative position for a nose profile as illustrated in the drawing at left. With the nostrils skewed to the right of the nose profile image, they also work as the viewing perspective on the sculpture moves to the right. 

This Vanport chert sculpture stands upright on a flat base in correct orientation to present this human facial profile. Eyes, nose, mouth, chin, forehead and ear embellished on a serendipitous natural form probably encountered in tool-stone procurement activities at Flint Ridge.

Side 2 with scale

Three perspectives on this sculpture. (Click photo to expand.) The highly angular nature of the chert material here requires a change of interpretive visual attention from our contemporary sensibilities. Rather than looking for accurate representation, we must use an almost "low resolution" focus to allow us to see the possible larger forms which may seen when the excruciating details of the rock are ignored. For me, this often requires taking one or several steps back from an artifact or a photo, and maybe squinting my eyelids a bit to appreciate the forest despite the trees (and branches and roots!)

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