Bloomfield couple publishes DVD book on petroglyphs
FARMINGTON — Of the many formats through which fine art is portrayed, television isn't commonly regarded as being at the top of the list.
But that unlikely medium is the means through which Bloomfield artists Peggy and Doyne Loyd recommend viewers enjoy their new collection of petroglyph photographs, a DVD book called "Crow Canyon: The Glorious Petroglyphs."
The project features 360 photographs of the rock art at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo. The images are presented on a series of DVDs packaged in "book" form and are designed to be viewed on an ultra-high-definition television.
The Loyds, who will be doing a book signing for the project this weekend at Hastings, acknowledged the format they have chosen is more than a little unusual, but they felt it was their best option, especially given the prohibitive cost of doing that many photos in a coffee table book.
Besides, Doyne Loyd said, he was intrigued by the idea of doing it this way.
"I think the viewing on the TV is more interesting than a book," he said by phone last week from Catron County, where he and his wife were doing some maintenance work on their second home. "Of course, I'm old enough to belong to the book age, but there's such sophisticated and high-quality color with UHV TVs, it creates an experience we can't do with a book."
Loyd said he has no idea how the project will be received, and he's not aware if other artists have tried it. The Loyds have been capturing striking images of Anasazi sites in the Four Corners for many years in large-format photographs that are then manipulated through layers of varnishes and tints, but this experience was markedly different from that.
"It doesn't seem like anybody's doing them," he said of DVD books of photography. "But it's the only medium we know of where you can do pictures of this (resolution)."
The Loyds spent more than six months and took 13 trips to Crow Canyon to compile the images featured in the book. Doyne Loyd said they chose Crow Canyon because it has such a high concentration of high-quality petroglyphs in a relatively small area.
"You didn't have to go far" to find great work, he said.
But the rugged terrain at Crow Canyon and its off-the-beaten-path location means not a lot of people, including many Farmington residents, have been there and seen the work featured on its rocks. Doyne Loyd described many of the works featured in this collection as being set in relatively inaccessible locations — in some cases, 20 miles from the nearest paved road.
"These are not places the average person is going to have the opportunity to go," he said. "Unless you spend several days (there), you're not going to find most of these."
The Loyds also labored to present the work as attractively as they could. Capturing the images was the relatively easy part, as it turns out. The Loyds spent four to five months processing the work, and that was the real labor-intensive part of the experience.
"Petroglyphs are difficult to take pictures of because some of them are very low contrast," Doyne Loyd said, explaining that editing the photos required an extraordinary amount of tweaking via computer. "We found them very hard to process. You can walk past a whole wall of petroglyphs and not see them if the light is wrong."
But the effort required to do the images justice was well worth it, he said.
"Some of these works are astounding," he said. "This is a remarkable set of images. And there's a whole lot more out there — this is just one of the more concentrated places."
Some of the petroglyphs at Crow Canyon are as old as 500 A.D., he said, while others are more recent. Loyd said the work done by Navajo people is extraordinarily precise.
"It's very carefully done," he said. "It's high-grade art, very accomplished."
Loyd emphasized that you don't need to know anything about rock art to appreciate the work in this collection.
"I'm not really a fan of petroglyphs," he said. "I'm a fan of art."
Watching "Crow Canyon: The Glorious Petroglyphs" requires a bit of work on the part of the viewer. The Loyds believe downloading the images from DVD to a USB flash drive via computer and inserting the drive into the USB port on a UHD television offers the best viewing experience. But the images also can be viewed on a regular HD television or even on a laptop computer.
"What's fascinating about these pictures is you can set these things to run on a slow slide show, and it's kind of like a spiritual experience," he said. "It's fascinating to watch them go by. Art is the most universal of all the things mankind does. For instance, you can appreciate Japanese art and not speak a word of Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture."
And unlike some other human disciplines, great art doesn't lose its relevance as it ages, Loyd pointed out.
"You can look at art that's 30,000 years old and be moved," he said. "But I'm not sure you'd want to read anything from a 100-year-old medical textbook and use it. This has universal value. We wanted to make these things available to people because they're relatively inaccessible."
And aside from a bit of text that describes the downloading process and introduces the viewer to Crow Canyon, there is no writing in this "book." Loyd said that was an intentional choice.
"It's very easy to spoil an experience for somebody by setting up some preconceived notion," he said. "The only preconceived notions we have are some very interesting works of art the Navajos have graciously left us."
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