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Darwin's BridgeUniting the Humanities and Sciences$
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Joseph Carroll, Dan P. McAdams, and Edward O. Wilson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190231217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190231217.001.0001

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Mark-Making as a Human Behavior

Mark-Making as a Human Behavior

Chapter:
(p.101) 7 Mark-Making as a Human Behavior
Source:
Darwin's Bridge
Author(s):

Ellen Dissanayake

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190231217.003.0007

Adopting a consilient ethological perspective, the author regards the earliest paleoart as the visible residue of a behavior of mark-making, which she further considers a type of “artification.” Artification is a foundational evolved human capacity to make ordinary reality (for instance, a stone surface) extra-ordinary, even if the result may not be beautiful, skilled, symbolic, or have other characteristics typically attributed to “art.” The approach compares ancient petroglyphs and pictographs with similarities in forms and motifs in the early mark-making of young children. Focusing on noniconic examples of mark-making rather than on representational images that suggest religious or other symbolism, and using an anthropological study of noniconic body decoration in a contemporary aboriginal group, the author questions entrenched archaeological and anthropological assumptions about “art”—specifically, the usual automatic connection with seriousness, symbolization, spirituality, modern cognition, and other presumed evidence of a “creative explosion” in human evolutionary history.

Keywords:   aesthetic theory, body decoration, children’s art, mark-making, origin of art, origin of symbolism, paleoarchaeology

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