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How to identify mindprint types and structure in art

How to identify archetypes and structure in art

Finding mindprint in a work of art is as simple as finding correspondences to any archetypally complete set or sets of about sixteen (twelve to twenty) items, such as pantheons (lists of gods), myth cycles, epics, emblems, lunar mansions, trumps, historic or fictional characters, constellations, heraldic devices, lyrics, or animals.

Researchers should tack characters in art to sets that they are familiar with, and use the mindprint axial grid and tables for confirmation (see the post What is mindprint, on this website. See Mindprint, the subconscious art code, by Edmond Furter, 2014, Lulu.com). Here is a shortcut method to finding the basics of the five layers of the archetypal art code;

[] Identify a likely periphery of figures in a roughly elliptical arrangement.

[] List the figures in their circular sequence, by any distinctive attribute, such as a posture, season, function, species, or device.

[] Provisionally tag the list or the artwork, with likely type numbers, such as 10 Teacher  for a figure with arms up or a staff, 12 or 13 Heart for a felid, 1 or 2 Builder for a bovid or tower, 5 Priest for varicoloured, skin paint or a hyperactive posture.

[] Tag figures notably ingressed or egressed towards or away from the centre, as 6 Exile or 14 Mixer.

[] Tag a pregnant figure as 11 Womb; and an adjacent major figure as 12 or 13 Heart (usually with an exposed chest), and the adjacent figure on the other side as 10 Teacher.

[] Infer a clockwise or anticlocwise sequence, and provisionally complete the labellling.

[] Count the number of eyes (for example 17), assume the lower even number (for example 16), subtract two (for example 14), skip half of this number (for example 7) between eyes, and draw tentative axes between each pair of likely opposing eyes.

[] If three or more axes cross at the same point, find the likely 11 Womb, and a likely 12 or 13 Heart, and redraw errant axes by not using their eyes (unless their eyes also find counterparts across the axial centre).

[] If three or more peripheral figures remain unaccounted for, assume a higher equal number (for example 18), and repeat the test with higher numbers.

[] Resolve the sequence by splitting up or combining the major doubles (1 /2 Builder, 5a/5b Priest, 8/9 Healer, 12/13 Heart).

[] Complete all the possible axes. Connect the equator from eye to eye (with the two exceptions).

[] Find one or two polar markers between 11 Womb and 12 Heart, or between 4 King and 5 Priest, near the equator (not near the centre). These poles are often on limb joints.

[] Find a polar marker nearer the axial pole, on or near the 15 Maker, 14 Mixer, or 13 Heart axis; which is often a limb joint, perhaps a jaw, vertical or horizontal from the axial centre or from one of the galactic poles. Connect this marker to the galactic pole to form a polar triangle (or if there is a marker on the opposite side, connect it to the galactic south pole).

[] Mirror the polar triangle on the other side of the ecliptic pole. Polar markers are not always expressed. Infer the inspirational date (spring) from the type that precedes the polar axle (midsummer) by an ideal 90 degrees (approximate, not measured on the distorted grid).

[] Apply the set of labels, one to each figure, and the four structural points, in sequence. Note that there is a choice of two labels (/) at the four major types if they are represented by only one figure (typical if the total is only twelve or fourteen);

1Builder 2Builder 2cBasket 3Queen 4King 4p
8Healer 9Healer 9cLid 10Teacher 11Womb 11p

 

5aPriest 5bPriest 5cTail 6Exile 7Child 7g
12Heart 13Heart 13cHead 14Mixer 15Maker 15g

 

cp csp ? ?

The axial centre or ‘Ecliptic Pole’ is unlabelled to avoid clutter.

[] Half-types (2c Basket v 9c Lid, 5c Tail v 13c Head) are usually off the axial grid, but within their sectors, designated by the axes of the two types that flank each of them.

[] On a separate page, list the type numbers, with basic distinctive features or characters found in the artwork, to compare to other artworks, mindprint statistics, stories, myths or typological sets.

This structure applies to all artworks, in all cultures, in all ages, due to the structure of nature, perception, expression, and cultural media. Mindprint also applies to myths and legends, but it is difficult to extract to a subtext, due to typical fluctuation between characters, places, episodes, and time. In art, the time-slice of the story stands still, and the composition could be verified against the original, or reproductions in catalogues, books and electronic galleries, such as tourist image sites.

See a standard format for testing and reporting structural art or building site analysis, in the post on ;What is mindprint’ on this website.

 

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How to identify mindprint types and structure in art

How mindprint, the subconscious art code, was discovered

Themes, moods, rhythms, styles and fads in poetry and lyrics could each be reduced to a distinctive format among a limited range of modes or ‘grooves’, and compared across a gulf of millennia to identify the character of the inspiration.

So it seemed to a literature student raised on Homer and art rock. My first thesis, Urban poets and prophets, directly compared some poems and ‘art rock’ lyrics. “Once tuned in to a particular inspiration, a poem writes itself”, I announced to a literature lecturer, who in return rattled off a list of authors, such as Mallarme, who have already said that.

“We should study poem cycles for their mythic structures, and study writing techniques only for how they support thematic structure,” I announced to a poetry lecturer, who suggested that I should study philosophy or psychology instead.

My next thesis explored the structure of phonemes (speech sounds) and the limits of meaning as revealed by their artistic use in what I took to be lyrical ‘modes’, bent to similar structural rules as parts of speech. Each phoneme’s pronunciation and perception is influenced by the succession it occurs within.

We perceive the distribution and succession as a whole, a kind of auditory speed-reading that support some meanings and obscure others. The grammar lecturer replied that I should consider an anthropology or psychology course.

From a combination of Freudian psychology and myth, including Fraser’s apparently fragmented Golden Bough, emerged vague but persistent impressions that some elements of the human psyche and culture were structured, compulsive and somewhat mechanistic, but partly subconscious and expressing spiritual logic beyond conscious definition. Jung’s depth psychology I had to read in my own time, it was not part of the psychology course.

An eventual career in journalism taught me that living myth and legend, or myth in the making, dictates which news, history and even technical magazine content would sell. No story is as difficult to write and to read as one containing new thought patterns or new assumptions. News gradually revealed itself as the sceptic’s definition of history; a set of fictions we agree to tell one another.

Invisible structure dogged my writing, and my hobby as a musician. Underneath conscious behaviour and even small talk, lie elements of a bigger conversation that I sought out in Egyptology, archaeology, astronomy, sacred sites, Theosophy and art.

Archaeology Society field trips and aerial photography flips over extensive kraal (cattle corral) cities in South Africa offered me a visual framework for interpreting cultural artefacts as shaped by individual and collective economy (paths of least resistance), using ready physical material and symbolic spacing. Culture seemed also to ‘write itself’.

The idea that visual art express stock themes, just as poems, lyrics, phonemes, huts and music do, gradually rose to prominence as I studied supposed astronomical artefacts, to find archetypes instead.

Rock art images often include swallow mud nest forms, swifts in half-human shape, water and a vortex in the sky. These birds, sometimes half-fish and mistaken as ‘mermaids’, are what archaeologists label ‘swift people’ (see theme 1 Taurus16), but archaeological literature fails to address the rest of the ensemble, or visual ‘mode’, resembling predictions of the 9/11 2001 New York terror attack.

An alchemical emblem by Basil Valentine of the 1300s (type 1:16 Builder/Sacker or Taurus) contain the same features that I had linked to swift people in rock art, and in Tarot trump 16 (Tower struck by lightning), several years before the iconic event of November 2001. Valentine’s alchemical emblem shows a high-rise city, on an island across a bridge, on fire, with a tract above it being torn up or struck by lightning. The medieval caption speaks of national pride, meddling in foreign affairs and mixed messages coming home to roost, in the same terms and tone used by critics of former USA president George W Bush.

Illustrations to the modern tale of the Wizard of Oz, with the related theme of a towering city and a yellow brick road, and the synonymous song by Bernie Tauplin and Elton John, closely fit the type or mode. Lyrics to Yellow brick road (“When are you gonna come down, when are you going to land… I bet that’ll shoot down your plane”) below an image of the fallen World Trade centre, came as a shock of recognition to the informal class of archaeo astronomers that I teach each midwinter holiday in June-July.

I gradually came to understand that the subject of my short course in archaeo astronomy was a misnomer, since it revealed structures in supposed astronomical artefacts that do not require archaeology or astronomy to express or to read.

Type t16 in an image dictated by Hildegard of Bingen, and woven by ecstatic nums. Compare Tarot trump 16, and swift people in art, and citadels struck by lightning or discord in alchemical emblems. The type is explained in detail in the book Mindprint, the archetypal art code (Edmond Furter, 2014, Lulu.com)
Type 1 Builder/Sacker or Taurus in an image dictated by Hildegard of Bingen, and woven by ecstatic nums. Compare to Tarot trump 16, and swift people in art, and citadels struck by lightning or discord in alchemical emblems. The type is explained in detail in the book Mindprint, the archetypal art code (Edmond Furter, 2014, Lulu.com)

If the Tower of Babel had a type number (1:16), and a cluster of features (build, sack, rain, etc), and came with a standard set of supporting icons and themes, such as language, diplomacy and trade tracts; then other icons in art, rock art, poetry, supposed prophecy and even historic events, could carry similar heraldic and emblematic markers. If archetypal events tend to be well recorded and reported, and less archetypal events selectively recorded, then visual art could reveal a visual grammar, and in turn crack the archetypal code.

While following this approach in research, I chanced on an image of the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) in a Papal seal imprint in ash-laden wax, posed as a query in an archaeological magazine (Voyage of the Planet, now defunct). I recognised the image from a Babylonian cylinder seal and the Egyptian Narmer palette that I had already tentatively identified with myths and features related to dragons and to Aries.

Since Agnus Dei was universally known in Judaeo-Christian iconography as well as astrology, it offered an anchor point for the underlying structure of myth. The Lamb of God also appears in alchemical emblems and Tarot trump 18 (Moon), anchoring a camouflaged sequence of correspondences, affinities, or ‘tacking’ between several esoteric sets.

Conventional logic that tags the Tarot’s crayfish to Cancer had to be wrong. The creature had to be Cetus or its tail, expressing the concept of a Kraken-type sea monster, the scaly component of a dragon, by definition a composite beast. Conventional astrology that cast Aries as a ram and ram only, had to be wrong.

Yet another clue to the sequence of types emerged from my own archaeo astronomy course material; a music DVD including an interview with rock icon Ian Anderson, genius of the band Jethro Tull, explaining how he eventually discovered that his chromatic, lilting, riffed music, and one-legged stance, resembled Krishna and Kokopelli (Jethro Tull, Living with the past, Eagle Vision DVD). Anderson does not mention Pan, but I already had his number from mythology, since forests, goats, and Capricornus ‘tacked’ to Trump 6 (Lovers) in the Tarot deck.

Combining these and other anchor points and filling in the gaps, I cracked the sequence of attributes that populate myth, alchemy, art, astrology and Tarot trumps. The little list (actually a semi-spiral with four expandable parts) soon became a lens with which to read rock art, which emerged as identical to myth and schooled art in inspiration, compulsion and structure, across the gulf of millennia and continents.

t16 tarot tower

Art history and archaeology are prone to exaggerating diffusion and conventions, despite examples of independent development of similar pantheons, rituals, pyramids, temples, monuments and the entire repertoire of culture in the Americas and elsewhere. All have characters near identical to Perseus, Hercules and the rest, and modes similar to ode, sonnet, gloria, blues and hero epic.

The concept of cultural elements, such as half-humans, as idiosyncratic developments, prompted and ‘framed’ by their own cultures, had to be wrong.

Comparing ancient Egyptian rock art and Egyptian formal (dynastic) art with Zimbabwean rock art, allowed a series of breakthroughs beyond the broadest thesis or imagination of my earlier research in lyrics, speech sounds and emblems. Many figures include standard attributes in implicit elements such as a staff, a long or craned neck, certain postures, relatively larger or smaller size, pregnancy, position relative to the approximate centre, species, attire, skin paint, status or apparent social function.

The frequent distinctive attributes appear in the periphery, in a standard sequence, and as axial opposites, which in turn reveal the standard geometric structure.

The more I tested, the simpler the sequence and structure became to identify. If academia was right, archetypes should be scattered at random in art, and every region or culture should have a unique set of figures, and display different stages of development in different eras. Yet artists all sing the same hymn to an archetypal tune, over the same set of polar ‘chords’.

If art history was right, there should be no axial structure in art. Iconographic analysis of large political art panels at Wits University (see T’Kama Adamastor), Brenthurst Library (see Leonard French’s Bridge), and the Voortrekker Monument (see Hennie Potgieter’s marble friezes), confirmed the same ‘rock art sequence’ in schooled art. Only some stylistic elements differ.

Learned artists, and supposedly primitive rock artists whose visionary figurative and geometric engravings I had puzzled over on field trips, share subconscious recourse to archetypal structure. The universal structure also appears in myth and wisdom literature. A deceptively simple little list of seasonal evening stars in the Mishnah confirmed astrology as just another layer or medium, and not the origin of structure (see the Literature section).

From years of searching for a ‘unified field theory’ in esoteric literature, I knew that lists appeared in hundreds of guises, but were nowhere reduced to a universal set, except in the stereotype of astrology, and these do not explain the more ‘rounded’ halo’s of meanings that I found in emblems and art.

Could there be more than conceptual symmetry between the sixteen types that were emerging? When I had casually asked sculptor Danie de Jager about geometric ratios in art, he explained that artists had “geometry built in”.

To find these ‘built-in’ structures on a larger scale, I developed a template from what I had thought at first to be a re-construction of a ‘Babylonian’ division of the cosmos and constellations, keyed to galactic features, mythic figures of various relative sizes and extent, as well as star lore.

Once I understood this structure as archetypal, not an ‘oral tradition’, legacy or secret source, but re-invented by every culture, and innately understood by artists and viewers, healers and patients, it became obvious that the sequence and the structure were part and parcel of perception.

Most artists do not study astronomy, and would have to invest some months of conscious effort to become familiar with the interplay between the forces, positions, observation and background texture of the sky. Yet the innate structure of perception, as revealed in artistic expression, could be super-imposed on a cosmogram or star map, or on any sufficiently complex natural or cultural set.

I systematically super-imposed astrological, alchemical, emblematic, mythic and conceptual elements on the sequence revealed by my affinitive ‘tacking’, then on a multi-cultural armillary projection of the sky developed for an educational installation in a theme park (not yet built). I tested the sequence and its structure on rock art, then on famous artworks, then on amateur art.

The structure hinges on the eyes of each figure (or in frontal faces on the eyes nearest to the geometric focal point), and on axes to the eyes of each opposite but complementary types (with two constant exceptions; a heart and a womb, corresponding to type 13 Heart or Leo, and type 11 Womb or Virgo). These axes always cross in one point.

One of the first rock art works to confirm the test in all its complexity was a group of goat people (half human figures) in Turkey, in a small shelter at Mount Latmos near Ephesus. Perhaps it was an informal oracle site, or just the haunt of an inspired goatherd that may have been a candidate for a temporary appointment at one of the earlier ‘Amazonian’ oracles, or the later formal temples. Perhaps by an aristocrat ordained for religious service as a Vestal virgin or priest, or a poet such as Aesop.

As I compared the ‘primitive’ figures to sophisticated, ritualised, formulaic, programmatic art depicting Artemis and her goats, it became clear that the elaborate oracular rock art of the Matobo range in Zimbabwe was no different in impulse, core content, structure, impact or style.

Panel after panel of rock art reproductions (particularly in the book by Elspeth Parry), as well as a range of works by classical and modern masters, chosen for their apparent differences, cracked under the lens of what I eventually named mindprint.

Another strand in the braid of archetypal expression came from the order of painting. Archaeologists carefully label strata, often paper thin, as they dig down, leaving portions they name ‘witness sections’ stuck with an array of flagged pins to re-check their dig reports and subsequent seasons or other sites against. This method, named the Harris matrix, they also apply to rock painting, useful where many figures partially overlay one another (assuming that each figure is completed in a separate episode).

The method reveals likely episodes of painting, typically grouping three, four, five or six figures into three, four or five episodes. Comparison of a meticulous academic paper on stratigraphy in a Drakensberg rock art work, to mindprint analysis of the same work, revealed that the artist had painted pairs of opposite figures together. This may not apply to all artists (see stratigraphy problems in the ‘Three Magi’ rock art scene in examples Chapter 13), but the cloth of evidence was woven to demonstrate the collective subconscious inspiration, or at least expression in practice.

The evidence awaited only a statistical test, which added the final strand to the art code. Despite my habitual reluctance for quantitative grammar, the test and results ‘wrote themselves’, and revealed some visual and structural qualities that the new conceptual sequential and geometrical lenses did not initially detect.

This study traces the structure in visual expression back to the invisible structure of inspiration and perception, and thus to the structure of nature, as far as we could know her, ultimately to archetype, which existed before creation and time. Breaking through the layers of disguise and distraction that protect our conscious logic from subconscious logic, required following thousands of trails in a forest of scientific and esoteric mazes, locking out dead ends, and returning to unexplored turns.

The reputed skill of artists in translating inspiration into visual form, as a tool of individual spiritual transformation, is confirmed. Our conscious and scientific views of art, perception and ultimately identity, have to recognise that we are essentially re-creators of archetypal structure.

Since the sequence and structure of visual types are sufficiently demonstrated, as repeated and repeatable, it stands as an artefact requiring a theory, no longer a theory supported by artefacts. Relevant sciences, arts and crafts will probably find their own explanations for mindprint.

The book was written twice, first as 200 captions to art and rock art images, to demonstrate how artists express eternal archetypes in a mixture of consciously understood and subconscious, universal esoteric terms, then as a statistical research report.

[UPDATE 2019 January; Since Mindprint, the same structural features were demonstrated in building sites, in the book Stoneprint (2014). The list of isolated features, and their average features, was expanded there, and in six editions of Stoneprint Journal in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.]

Together, the images and text place mindprint, our involuntary art code, in context with archaeology, anthropology, mythology, philosophy, psychology, art history and popular culture.

The two spheres of this book, theoretical and practical, hopefully enable conscious access to the vast array of subconscious meanings in art, in acclaimed individual works and seemingly different cultures across continents and millennia.

The revelations and conclusions enable a synthesis of our academic, artistic and esoteric views of culture. The three sides of the artistic, esoteric and scientific divide meet here on their own terms.

Mindprint leads several crafts, arts and sciences through their commonalities to the subtext in cultural and natural expressions of archetype.

To avoid the double risk of alienating scientists by esoteric terminology, or alienating esoteric readers by scientific terminology, technicalities are kept to a minimum. Concepts are demonstrated in terms of actual expressions of the archetypal attributes and structure in artworks, and multiplied by many references to the 200 illustrated examples.

Science and esoterica both operate on the principle of predictability and isolation (distinction), although science proceeds from measurables in theoretical context, and esoterica from intrinsic correspondences. This book describes and tests archetype in both contexts.

– Edmond Furter, Johannesburg, March 2014

(Extract from the Postscript in the book Mindprint, the subconscious art code, 2014, Lulu.com, 266 pages, 200 illustrations, $29 plus postage, or R250 at presentations in South Africa, or email edmondfurter at gmail.com)