Sunday, June 3, 2012
VISUAL PUNS IN ROCK ART:
Fremont figure, Old Airport site, Moab, Utah.
Photo Peter Faris, September 2000.
On a couple of previous occasions I have published postings of images that I called Optical Illusions. These generally consist of images that can be seen as more than one thing (note: also see Visual Puns). This week’s offering is an excellent example of that phenomenon.
This image is from the old airport site near Moab, Utah, and consists of images produced by the Fremont Culture. The panel contains a mix of Fremont figures (anthropomorphs) and four-legged animals or quadrupeds (zoomorphs generally identified as desert bighorn sheep). The figure that I focus on here, however, contains elements of both. The large anthropomorph to the right of center is a traditional Fremont Classic figure with a plumed headdress; except the plumes of the headdress are also the horns of two of the quadrupeds standing nose to nose where the figure’s head belongs. Thus the head and the headdress can be seen either as just that, a head with headdress, or as two animals facing each other, or as both.
Since this image combines elements of both human and animal features I suppose it should also be classified as therianthropic. In any case the artist who produced this image was obviously thinking about the identifying qualities of his figures, and combined elements of them to overlay the double meaning or identities in the same figure. Personally, I see this as an example of real creativity, the combining of images to make another image that has never existed before, as well as a possibly intended joke or visual pun.