Taken from Rock Art Studies: News of the World V edited by Paul Bahn, Natalie Franklin, Matthias Strecker and Ekaterina Devlet. Pages 225-243.|
North American rock art research since 2010 includes many familiar approaches, some modified to meet contemporary needs, and a few innovations that are maturing into standard research tools. The living voices of descendant communities are more important than ever to many researchers, who acknowledge that our enterprise is essentially one of outsiders looking in. Still others choose to begin on the inside, with the shared structures of human cognition, and approach the visible results (the rock art) as the gestural evidence of lost communicative acts. We even see some studies trying to reinforce one approach with the other—hybrid solutions in an increasingly pluralist endeavour. The information we gather is coming more and more from once invisible views of rock art: GIS-enabled distribution models of select data over more detailed landscapes; portable spectroscopy, microscopy, two- and three-dimensional extreme-resolution imaging; and drone-assisted photography and video (shared with more curious eyes through the explosion of rock art on social media). The last five years of rock art research in North America reflect the contributions of established academics and their students (off the lapel pin and into the lecture notes, to modify an old phrase), and the contributions of volunteers and avocationalists whose tireless dedication and unbridled enthusiasm remain infectious.
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