fix and flux like stones in a river


 
Tracing our understanding of the world we live. Man has always looked up at the sky to understand the world around him.   At ground level it is often difficult to see far: mountains, vegetation, fog, haze blocks the view, and always there is something beyond the horizon.   Later, much later, man could look back at the Earth from the moon, from outer space, ...   ... like seeing the Australian Northern Territory from a satellite, seeing, but being out of touch.   Being down there, touching the earth, ...  ... the dry soil of this land which is used for body paint in ceremonies.   Ceremonies that trace the path of the ancestors.   Temporary tracings in sand, ...  ... also using materials picked from plants, to draw figures that explain cosmic forces of renewal.   Recently there was a new development when someone put a canvas between the hand of 'the artist' and the earth, fixing what was first only temporal. Thats what happened in Australia, and not just there.   Such paintings on canvas may still convey the same stories: the way of the ancestors, an understanding of relationships between man and his environment; ...  ... paintings of snakelike figures, traces of big mythical animals as rivers seen from high in the sky. Such paintings, with meandering figures, look similar to satellite pictures of rivers as this one of a muddy river delta in Bangladesh, a constant changing pattern drawn by Nature.   And there are other traces of Nature which can be observed, like the permafrost rivers of Siberia, images of frozen movement.   Imprints on the land by animals and man can be more or less lasting. Such images of permanence and change have been observed by man for a long time, and made him think about his own existence and the universe: fix and flux, like stones in a river.  A great exercise in visualisation: 'art', as an attempt to come to an understanding of the cosmic system, like this Tibetan 'Wheel of Time' mandala, which is a temporal ceremonial object.   It is made in a most concentrated and ordered way, and then, later, the pigments are brushed together and dispersed, thrown in a river.   Images from Tamil Nadu country in India, paintings around the house called 'kolam', made daily. They are material prayers of coloured rice powder and cow dung with flowers stuck in them, to avert 'the evil eye'...   Sand paintings of the Navajo. The process of making them can take eight to ten hours.   The making of the "painting" is the most important thing, not the painting as an end-product.   These paintings are also used for healing by sitting a person in the middle and chanting. After that the sand is disposed off, as quick as possible; the sacred image has become too powerful.   These temporal art works are methods to understand the universe and harvest it's powers, to keep life in balance.   Many forms of such temporary sand tracings with cosmic themes exist in different cultures, ...  ... from the floor paintings of farmers in Belgian Kempen, ...  ... to Zen gardens in Japan. There are other temporal cosmic representations, like rope figures showing, among others, ...  ... star constellations, used in many cultures, as by the Navajo and Kwakiutl indians in America. Now, at night, from the air, we can see big cities like New York as twinkling stars, ...  ... never the same, always changing. Changing patterns like the complicated rope figures made by a native woman, a pass-time to get through the dark evenings, like watching the flickering of television.