DER Documentary

Talking Stone: Rock Art of the Cosos

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by Paul Goldsmith, ASC
color, 53 min, 2014
in English

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Hidden away in the canyons of a top-secret military base on the edge of the Mojave Desert is the largest concentration of rock art in North America. Created over thousands of years by a now vanished culture, it represents the oldest art in California. Talking Stone explores the remote canyons and the mysteries surrounding these amazing images.

Talking Stone offers a beautiful experience of this astonishing site in its equally remarkable landscape. The diversity of interpretive perspectives is refreshing — it effortlessly embraces Native American, archaeological, artistic, and laymen's experiences with respect that underscores what a treasure such sites are for all humanity.”
— Owen Doonan, CSUN Art History Prof, Getty Residential Scholar
“Paul Goldsmith, an accomplished and acclaimed cinematographer, has established an extraordinary record of translating and interpreting western Native American history in his own nuanced, yet powerful medium. His newest accomplishment, Talking Stone: Rock Art of the Cosos, follows in this rich tradition and could well be the very best of all.”
— David Hurst Thomas, Curator, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History
“Goldsmith's intriguing documentary, Talking Stone: Rock Art of the Cosos is a visually engaging example of ethnographic "multivocality" at its best. Unable to interview the creators of petroglyphs made thousands of years ago by the now-extinct Coso people, Goldsmith instead reveals what the mysterious images mean not only to Native Californians and archaeologists today, but  to hunters, artists, clinical psychologists, and even to the U.S. Navy, on whose missile testing grounds the rock art now remains protected. "Talking Stone" should appeal to audiences of all ages, from elementary school children to adults, interested in Native American cultures, archaeology, rock art, and the desert environment of the American West.”
— Nancy Lutkehaus, Ph.D., Co-Director, Center for Visual Anthropology, USC

TV Broadcasts
PBS SoCal, July 2014

Related Resources
Film Site
Filmmaker Site
Article: Navy faces daunting task of counting desert petroglyphs, LA Times

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts