Diane Orr has been a documentary filmmaker for many years. One of her best known films is the docu-drama, Lost Forever, EVERETT RUESS. She spent nearly a decade writing, re-writing and creating the film, which the Taos film festival called. “An unforgettable exploration of the wilderness, both inside us and out.”
For the last several years Diane has turned her boundless energy and her attention to photographing Utah's vast collection of rock art. She has followed the penciled maps of ranchers and rock art enthusiasts to petroglyphs and pictographs created as far back as three thousand years BC. Her most recent exhibit, Utah's Vanishing Rock Art, features many cultural rock art styles spanning several thousand years including ancient desert archaic, Barrier Canyon Style, Fremont, Basketmaker, early historic Ute and Navaho rock art
Diane uses a Hulcherama medium format camera to take her pictures. It’s an older camera that has no through the lens viewing and exposes the film through a slit as the camera spins 360 degrees to expose a 2 by 11 inch negative. From this she produces limited edition photographic prints.
When you first approach one of the photos your eye is immediately drawn to the subject while you are still several feet away. Diane has taken great pains to place the rock art in the context of its surroundings, and as you move closer to the photograph you realize the detail the Hulcherama can capture and find yourself studying every inch of the surrounding landscape as well as the rock art. She has deliberately placed you in the environment. “The landscape was part of the picture and the context is really significant. You can’t pick these things up and put them in a little frame or put them in a museum because then you lose a big chunk of the picture. Not only did the ancients pick the rock surface very carefully and the direction they face, but there’s a very tight relationship with sun movements, certain constellation movements and the seasonal light that they were intended for, you can tell.”
Diane also sits on the board of the Utah Rock Art Association and is concerned with the vandalism of rock art over the years. "Everywhere I witness rock art site vandalism. Bullet holes, names, and graffiti mar incredible images. Boulders with petroglyphs near Utah Lake and the Sevier River have vanished. Energy development threatens rock art in Nine Mile Canyon, Quitchupah Creek and the Book Cliffs. Natural forces and our failure to protect rock art sites are erasing rapidly the mysterious and beautiful messages of ancient creators.
There’s such a richness in Utah. We have such a diversity of historic cultures, going back 6 to 10,000 B.C. We’re one of the richest places in the nation, and probably the earth, for rock art and historic writing from these cultures that have no written text."
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