We started this lecture looking at the cave paintings of Chauvet in France and El Castillo in Spain, as well as some abstract cave paintings from South Africa. We discussed the possible meanings of the paintings across the different caves and how what some may interpret as art, others will interpret as communication. For example, the cave paintings in France of the bears/lionesses could be interpreted as a warning to stay away, as a message to kill or even as a form of worship. One thing in common was the use of lines to convey memories.
In other parts of history, lines were used to create letters and words; first combined around four thousand years ago on Ancient Egyptian scrolls. Before this, trading and accountancy was recorded by the Sumerians, as seen in Memory in Cuneiform. And later on, more advanced versions can be seen as shown in the Book of Kells. Below.
Also discussed in this lecture was Tim Ingold’s ‘Lines: A Brief History’, 2007. In this book, Ingold explores the concept of an imagined world where everything is made of interconnected lines, making the foundations for a new order; “the anthropological archaeology of the line”.
Ingold sees today’s writer as a wordsmith not a scribe, believing the intimate link between gesture and inscriptive trace is broken and that the author conveys feelings by choice of words rather than the expressiveness of their lines. He later categorises the types of lines suggesting all of the below follow a line format;
We then looked at Tony Buzan‘s ideas about mind maps, which he describes as powerful graphic techniques which help unlock the potential of the brain and claims them to be applicable to every aspect of life. With this in mind, in groups we were asked to mind map our understanding and knowledge of lines. We chose to concentrate on invisible/metaphorical lines in our group and listed: blood lines, pick up lines, finish line, phone line, body lines, queues, among others. All groups discussed their mind maps to the rest of the class and it was interesting to see everyone else’s concept of lines.
The lecture then turned more to the memory side of the theme and we looked at the theories of Frances Yates. ‘The Art of Memory’ by Yates, 1966 looks at memory techniques, most interestingly the method of loci, also known as the mind palace. This is a mnemonic device which was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks, in which you use visualisation to organise information. You visualise a palace, and when there is something, or a series of things, significant you want to remember, you visualise a room in the palace and put that information in there. When you want to recall that information, you go to the room in the palace and the theory is that you will be able to remember it.
The lecture ended by us all drawing a line to represent our journey to university, based on memory only. Thus combining the two things we’d been looking at (line and memory). Mine is shown below.
“Everything is a parliament of lines” – Tim Ingold