Art as grounded in the hunting pack's ability to perceive time.
J Edward Chamberlain suggests in his book Horse, that humankind is both herd and pack animal. We may be tempted to juxtapose these simply as prey and predator. But if we remain with the groupings, we do gain insight through their social interactions.
For although both groupings are hierarchical, it is the hunting pack that places value on reading stories of time, of past,present and future. For it is the pack that reads the story in the snow, the footprints and smells telling them that a family of deer had passed this way, possibly an hour ago. That one was injured and drips blood. The pack values stories that speak of past and so implies the future, balanced in the now of their reading of the story they have crossed. For the pack, Time, stretches out between history and future, that if they but follow the trail, they may eat what they know was once here.
The herd, though able to remember stories of seasons gone by, privilege stories that tell them of the now. Can they eat or might they be attacked right now? It is the now, are they in immediate danger? - that occupies their thoughts. What Is now- do they flee? The herd waits in anticipation of these moments that cry out 'flee!'. Their stories are of what is occurring right now.
So if it is so, that man has gotten his concept of time, stories of history and utopias to come, from being a pack animal. Then if this has taught us to read stores that privilege the that which isn't here now, then what of art?
If man is both pack and herd, does art's stories privilege the experience of the now, or the remembrance of things that were and the possibilities of those to come? Isn't abstract and figurative simply stories of the now or of what is not now? Maybe art began only for those who understand time as does a hunting pack? Possibly art was once only possible for those who can imagine across time?
So if abstract art has brought to the pack the understanding of the herd, where will the pervasiveness of the mobile digital connected-ness, lead art?
© GAMcCullough 2015