Alexandra Kraeler Corbin

Reviewed by Ellen Dissanayake, author of Homo Aestheticus,
Rock Art of The American West; The Geometric Enigma,          
and many more

The Origins of our Image Making Compulsion

Alexandra Kraeler Corbin
(2018) Brooklyn:, New York

Alexandra Corbin’s stimulating study of the origins of image-making
in our species is an admirable synthesis of a daunting variety of
fields, of which the twenty Key Words listed on the back cover are a
representative but not exhaustive catalog. A naïve reader who
approaches the book with a personal interest in its subject (“Why do
people make art?”) might feel intimidated. However, as an author
who has myself spent over fifty years addressing the same subject, I
must say that all the fields provide important insights and are
relevant to this misleadingly simple question.  

Artmaking and the motives behind it do not lend themselves to a
linear, straightforward narrative and so must be approached from
many directions—evolutionary, philosophical, neuroscientific, paleo-
archaeological, semiotic . . . the list goes on. One might fear that the
little three-letter word, “art,” will have disappeared after all these
searchlights have been trained on it.

However, Corbin is a practicing artist who knows “art,” and her
chapters are well worth careful perusal. Although academic writers
on serious topics often maintain a distance (“objectivity”) between
themselves and their subject, every page of Corbin’s book
bespeaks a knowledgeable and creative mind that has thought
intelligently, personally, and passionately for a lifetime about its

I recommend the book to readers who like nothing more than to
steep themselves in a stew of new information, original and
stimulating ideas, surprising syntheses, and an original authorial
voice. Although one will not come away with a tidy, air-tight
hypothesis, lovers of art who are interested in its origins will be
enriched by joining Corbin as she follows the tracks of art ascending.

Tracks of My Fears  is a study of the multiple origins of our insatiable   
compulsion to formulate free standing designs. It is available in one
volume or in a set of four books. Please click image below for all the
books and scroll down for reviews. Thank you.
CORBIN has been a lifelong artist and a former filmmaker and has brought to
the research a kind of understanding of the visualization processes that pure
neuro-science exploration has tended to over-look. She has produced a sharp
and informed  study from time spent at Harvard as a Visiting Fellow in Neuro-
Psychology and Philosophy while managing her gallery. (please look right)

The largely identifiable neurons in certain parts of our brain have caused a
mnemonic need to build stories from emotional events turned into visual
themes. This is the sub-text for the title. However, Homo Sapiens Sapiens,
though incredibly talented are not the geniuses who first got the work under  

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