Images are just patterns of different colours. What makes us see 'things' in images is our ability to construct meanings from patterns. The visual arts seem to be a cultural consequence of this symbolism. But the more specific the sign used, the less likely it is to be understood by a different culture.


Are there any 'universal' symbols? For humans we might look to birth, death, individual skill and relationships for themes that transcend individual cultures. But what symbols, if any, might be shared with aliens? Universal symbolism seems unlikely when many don't even understand the signs and symbols of their own culture. There may be universality in mathematics, but in art, there may be absolutely no absolutes.

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Website, contents and images John H Moore 2005-6