Friday, August 26, 2016

your turn #1: in the beginning was the mark


hi kids: welcome to my arh 346 class.

we started this course talking about the importance of the mark. 

first, the anthropological need to make marks. then the many instances of marks:
the social ritualistic (paleolithic ancient cave murals, egyptian dead rolls, the willendorf venus, etc), the psychological (the "i love you" on a wall),
the political (graffiti),
the rule oriented (hammurabi code, confucius' analects),
the economic (ancient coins),
the semantic (as in alphabet development),
the scientific (early mathematics), etc.

now, write a 120-word minimum comment addressing any particular angle that you find interesting of this first class. again,

to make a comment 

click at the bottom of this post where it says "post a comment." you will get a box, after you are done, write down your full name at the bottom of your comment (even if you have a google alias). click "anonymous" (unless you have a google account with your alias). i advise you to write your comment first on word and then copy-and-paste it to the comment box in case it gets lost (this has happened to students). click i'm not a robot and click "publish your comment." by the way, you can preview your comment before you publish it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

earliest shorthand


keep in mind, the activity of writing needs to be ritualistic, but also economical. the rituals for the priesthood and kingly classes as they are presented for the uses of the masses. they, however used writing in its quick abbreviated form. as long as we have writing we have abbreviated means, fast, economical.    

\shorthand\

we find the earliest known example of a shorthand writing system is the Acropolis stone (Akropolisstein) discovered in the Athenian Acropolis in 1884, and preserved in the British Museum (Brit. Mus. Add. Ms. 33270).

the marble slab shows a writing system using primarily based on vowels, using certain modifications to indicate consonants. you are pretty dexterous at this shorthand:

2G2BT = too good to be true
459 = i love u
303 = mom
404 = i haven't a clue
*$ = starbucks (?)
99 = parent no longer watching
831 = i love you

much more here.

the God of writing: Ashurbanipal


TO NABÛ, EXALTED LORD, WHO DWELLS IN EZIDA, WHICH IS IN NINEVEH, HIS LORD: I ASHURBANIPAL, KING OF ASSYRIA, THE ONE LONGED FOR AND DESTINED BY HIS GREAT DIVINITY, WHO, AT THE ISSUING OF HIS ORDER AND THE GIVING OF HIS SOLEMN DECREE, CUT OFF THE HEAD OF TE'UMMAN, KING OF ELAM, AFTER DEFEATING HIM IN BATTLE, AND WHOSE GREAT COMMAND MY HAND CONQUERED UMMAN-IGASH, TANMARIT, PA'E AND UMMAN-ALTASH, WHO RULED OF ELAM AFTER TE'UMMAN. I YOKED THEM TO MY SEDAN CHAIR, MY ROYAL CONVEYANCE. WITH HIS GREAT HELP I ESTABLISHED DECENT ORDER IN ALL THE LANDS WITHOUT EXCEPTION. AT THAT TIME I ENLARGED THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURT OF THE TEMPLE OF NABÛ, MY LORD, USING MASSIVE LIMESTONE. MAY NABÛ LOOK WITH JOY ON THIS, MAY HE FIND IT ACCEPTABLE. BY THE RELIABLE IMPRESS OF YOUR WEDGES MAY THE ORDER FOR A LIFE OF LONG DAYS COME FORTH FROM YOUR LIPS, MAY MY FEET GROW OLD BY WALKING IN EZIDA IN YOUR DIVINE PRESENCE.

the first self portrait, an early manifestation of narcissism?


the scribe, Sesh, wearing a knee-length kilt, his arms raised to present a papyrus roll and possibly a writing palette. the sketch is signed with the hieroglyph of "scribe", consisting of a palette with wells for red and black ink, shoulder strap, water pot and red pen.

early math (the moscow papirus, 2000 bc)


what is the purpose of early math?

counting... MEASURING!

(by the way, we are not alone doing math. dolphins are math driven creatures) 
Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a new study that suggests these brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before.

alphabet + time + costumes = type face style


is graffiti art a form of vandalism?


The New York Times explores the question above. My answer is here. 

Written-token comparisons


portable media? I-pad?  

Ostraca (bits of discarded pottery) Posters, TV? 

Wall writing (instruction, edicts, admonitions, etc) Legislation? Big letters on walls, marble, porticoes, large enough to be seen from an open forum.

Now tell me, how different a message is the one (above) from this one?


the social character of written language became inscribed in its design

Trajan's Column, circa 114, cE. 
below the formal capitals inscribed on the base of the column, which are considered the pinnacle of Roman letter design (called Trajan typeface). These letters are remarkable for their elegance and consistency and the harmony of its proportions (though they were not used with the help of a compass or ruler). The serif effect is obtained by the chisel's indentation in the stone's surface.

the best hypothesis of scholar and Father Edward Catich is that the type form was first sketched using a flat square-tipped brush, using only three or four quick strokes to form each letter. the characters were cut in the stone by the same person (not as some supposed by a scribe and stone mason), the illusion of form being created by shadow.
 
SENATUS POPULUS QUE ROMANUS IMPERATORI CAESARI DIVI NERVAE FILIO NERVAE TRAIANO AUGUSTO GERMANICO DACICO PONTIFICI MAXIMO TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE XVII IMPERATORI VI CONSULI VI PATRI PATRIAE AD DECLARANDUM QUANTAE ALTITUDINIS MONS ET LOCUS TANRIBUS SIT EGESTUS.

Graphic and material codes distinguished broad categories of written language during the Classical period


Tetradrachm signed by Eucleidas circa 405-400 bC.

A fast quadriga driven by a female charioteer, holding reins in hand and raising a flaming torch while Nike is flying to crown her.

other side: Head of Athena facing three-quarters wearing double-hook earring, necklace of pendant acorns with central gorgoneion-medallion and triple-crested Attic helmet on whose bowl signature ΕVΚ − ΛΕΙΔ. On both sides, two dolphins swim downwards.

what's the deal?

The coin embodies value and serves as a cultural symbol.

coinage is an act of collective faith grounded in social conventions.

you believe that it has intrinsic value.

Narmer Palette, Egypt, (circa. 3200 bC)


the importance of writing cannot be underestimated. what does writing do to civilization?

it facilitates cultural evolution by stimulating abstraction and theoretical distinctions. writing has a social, legal, and scientific role of codifying and objectifying ideas.

writing facilitates learning, communication and the transmission of knowledge.

what is the spoken equivalent of a hyphen or a sans serif face?


proto-writing appears with the complexity of social interaction. agriculture, measurements, bartering, etc, in the Mesopotamian region.

The Book of the Dead (can the dead die again?)



The Book of the Dead, used by the ancient Egyptians as a set of instructions for the afterlife, is considered to be one of the the first illustrated manuscripts. In the earlier versions the scribe designed the manuscript. If it was to be illustrated, blank areas were left that the artist would fill in as best he could. Then the vignettes became more important and dominated the design.*

today we deal with the dead in a different way

we've lost that magic connection we used to have with our dead. the simplicity and functionalism of the design of today's dead speaks for itself: a sort of factory of the dead. 

 Holland Cemetery, Oklahoma

______________________
*check this link for a detailed discussion of many of the illustrations.

a brief history of writing



writing comes with the Bronze Age circa 4th millennium BCE in Sumeria.The development of Egyptian hieroglyphs is also parallel to that of the Mesopotamian scripts, and not necessarily independent. 


Check this user-friendly link to understand the origins writing.

the logos in the Hammurabi Code


this image is done in bas-relief on basalt, and the text completely covers the bottom portion with the laws written in cuneiform script. this is perhaps the earliest writing system. the "wedge-shaped" marks on the stone or clay tablets is made with a blunt reed for a stylus

this text contains a list of crimes and their various punishments, as well as settlements for common disputes and guidelines for citizens' conduct. The Hammurabi Code does not provide opportunity for explanation or excuses, though it does imply one's right to present evidence. 

the idea is that once you see the the slab in open display no one could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. 


also, take a look at how these glyphs which stands for the word "head" evolve:


1-7 comprises 2000 years!!

isn't this pictographic token a kind of a logo?

Dresden Codex (Yucatan, circa 1250 bC)


The codex was written by eight different scribes, each with their own distinctive style, type of glyphs and subject matter. It is linked to the Yucatecan Maya in Chichén Itzá, the extraordinary ancient Mayan city situated in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula. It was made between A.D. 1200-1250, and was still possibly in use when the conquistadors arrived. The order of text and illustration looks surprisingly contemporary.


the codex is made amatl paper ("kopó", fig-bark that has been flattened and covered with a lime paste), doubled in folds in an accordion-like form (sometimes called leporello) of folding-screen texts. the paper is coated with fine stucco or gesso and is eight inches high by eleven feet long. this is probably the order:

it's a calendar. it reflects the lunar series. total? 260 days.


do you need to translate the glyphs? look here.

paleolithic marks?


these markings constitute a design form. 

see that design is almost pervasive to the form,
the form to the idea,
the idea to the practice.

so, in a sense to design is to feel the practice.

early graffiti?


ok, this is a paleolithic mark, the most basic form of graphic expression and design. but the imprint has a curious existence: a mark that is a sign of the self is also always other than the self. i call it ancient graffiti: anonymous, quick, ephemeral, the purpose of the artist is to leave a mark behind, a trace of presence.

venus of willendorf (circa. 22,000 b.C.)


the main idea here is that the symbolic form of the design has overwhelmed its materiality and the process by which it was made.


 above, an actual model of the idea. Magic again.

ancient graphic design (Altamira)


any design begins with a mark.

many of the paintings at ancient Altamira appear to have been airbrushed, a sophisticated technique (which may be done as shown).


now,

two hollow bones are used, one set perpendicularly in a container of water and ochre, the other is held in the mouth. the artist could not resist making a mark with his hand.



this is early graffiti. the hand-print was obtained by smearing ochre and water on the hand, and then pressing it on the wall.

this is the photoshop of ice age hunters.


what is this design appealing to? ritual symbols. worship? totem? a bit of everything.

see the "eye" of the face has been outlined in black. THIS IS MAGIC.