Kyaatataypi Solstice Portfolio

A few good words
The photographs in this portfolio were all created on June 21st, 2006, on the day of the Summer Solstice. Each image features a rock art image, part of an extensive rock art site located within two miles of Kyaatataypi (if you are not familiar with Kyaatataypi, you can learn more about it by clicking here.)

I studied this site in the company of John Fountain, a retired NASA scientist whom I met by accident, as early as 1997. At the time I did not know I would own property within sight of this site ;-). As things turned out, I did not even plan to purchase property nearby. Things turned out that way, by fortunate coincidence we might say. In fact, a prehistoric pueblo is located on the property that I own, and this is most likely where some of the people who created the rock art depicted in the images below lived. I personally believe that the purpose of Kyaatataypi was ceremonial in nature, and that the goal of these ceremonies was to restore or maintain balance in individuals and in the world. I drew this conclusion from my knowledge of the native cultures who inhabited and still inhabit the American Southwest, from my study of the rock art images found at Kyaatataypi, and from my study of the pottery designs found at Kyaatataypi, both shards and complete vessels.

As I mentioned, John Fountain introduced me to the rock art site near Kyaatataypi. John, who is a retired NASA scientist, believed that the rock art images of Kyaatataypi functions as solar markers. This means that at specific times of the year, be it the summer or winter solstice, the spring or fall equinox, or the cross quarter days (the days half way in time between solstice & equinox), the rock art of Kyaatataypi interacts with the sunlight to form patterns of light and shade that were meaningful for the prehistoric culture that created this rock art. How meaningful you might ask? Very meaningful. What does it mean you might ask? Hard to say. Is it really so? I don't know. Eventually, we see what we want to see to some extent. And eventually, we may or may not see the same thing that a culture that disappeared nearly 800 years ago, and which left no other written record except rock art images on canyon walls, saw. In fact, it is almost certain that we do not see the same thing. How could we? Their culture was entirely different from ours, not only from a technological perspective (they were at the stone age more or less) but also from a spiritual perspective (they did not believe in science as we know it today).

At any rate, using his knowledge of astronomy, John proceeded to determine which images were most likely to interact with patterns of light and shade at specific times of the year. Returning at those precise times, John would set up several video cameras operating in time-lapse to try and record the progression of the light and shade patterns as they moved across the rock art images. It was then that I developed the knowledge required to successfully photograph such interactions between images carved onto canyon walls and light & shade patterns cast by the sun moving across the sky. Regardless of what our beliefs might be in regards to the meaning of these images and of these interactions, there is no doubt that what we are seeing is the motion of the earth rotating on its axis while moving along on its journey around the sun. Eventually, whatever it is that we see today, is exactly what the culture who created this rock art saw, hundreds of years ago. Across time and change, across cultural, spiritual and technological differences, we have this one thing in common. And it is not trivial. Indeed, it describes the very foundation of our existence.

So what are we to do? Well, I can only answer for myself. And what I do is create images. Eventually, I do not need to know how what I photograph was created. Or, to put it more precisely, I do not have to explain my beliefs, or my conclusions. Why? Simply because I am not a scientist. Instead, I am an artist. I may have an opinion on all this, but my message isn't about sharing this opinion. My message, is sharing my images. That these images are informed by this opinion is, to a large extent, besides the point. Certainly they are. How could they not? That my knowledge of the subject is extensive is also besides the point. At best, it enriches the content of my images, or enriches the inspiration that drives my to create these images

But eventually, and as I just mentioned, what really matters, what I want to share, are the images below. And in this portfolio, this is exactly what I do, introducing a series which is quite different from my other work:

Kyaatataypi Solstice 1

Kyaatataypi Solstice 2

Kyaatataypi Solstice 3

Kyaatataypi Solstice 4

Kyaatataypi Solstice 5

Kyaatataypi Solstice 6

Kyaatataypi Solstice 7

Kyaatataypi Solstice 8

Kyaatataypi Solstice 9

Kyaatataypi Solstice 10

Kyaatataypi Solstice 11

Kyaatataypi Solstice 12

Kyaatataypi Solstice 13

Kyaatataypi Solstice 14

Kyaatataypi Solstice 15

Kyaatataypi Solstice 16

Kyaatataypi Solstice 17

All images are copyright 2006 © Alain Briot
All rights reserved worldwide