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Experiencing rock art: A phenomenological investigation of the Barrier Canyon tradition.

Firnhaber, M.P.; (2008) Experiencing rock art: A phenomenological investigation of the Barrier Canyon tradition. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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The Barrier Canyon Style of rock art is found in south-eastern Utah, United States. It is the work of Late Archaic hunter-gatherers, and dates from approximately 4000 to 1500 B.P. This painted tradition is dominated by abstracted anthropomorphic figures, often depicted life-size. The landscape is a rugged one of deep, dry canyons bordered by sheer sandstone cliffs. It is within these canyons that the rock art is found. The methodological foundations for this study are catered to different facets of the tradition. The macro-topography of the land lends itself well to current trends in the study of rock art and landscape. The micro-topographies of individual sites are ideal subjects for phenomenological and kinaesthetic investigations of place. The large anthropomorphic motifs are best examined in terms of Alfred GelTs theories of art and agency. Metaphor theory helps find meaning in all these elements. Together, they provide an understanding of the relationships between the rock art, the landscape, and those who produced and consumed the sites and their images. The study begins with an experiential exploration of the study area---an embodied discussion of being-in-the-land. It proceeds through a discussion of how sites are discovered and accessed, and then moves on to a smaller-scale study of the physicality of the sites and the demands placed on the visitor by their local topography. Next, the study explores the positioning of the images on the rock, examining the agentive properties of the figures, and the immediate kinaesthetic effects the images impose on the visitor. From here, the art is explored in detail, and then a series of in-depth case studies apply the findings on a site-specific level. Finally, a concluding chapter discusses metaphors gleaned from the art and the land, and brings them together with the experiences described to provide a fuller understanding of this rock art tradition. I, the undersigned Michael Paul Firnhaber, confirm that the work presented in this thesis is my own. Where information has been derived from other sources, I confirm that this has been indicated in the thesis.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Experiencing rock art: A phenomenological investigation of the Barrier Canyon tradition.
Identifier: PQ ETD:591474
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1444172
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