All Yesterdays is gaining momentum. As I’ve written in my review, I think this is a great thing and highly recommend the book, in whatever form you choose to buy it. I love the independent Geist in publishing. Kudos to the whole team. I love the science/art tag team to present a truly rounded argument for more speculative life and behavioral reconstructions. I also think the call is much-needed and spot on. As a book.
As a book it is a landmark argument to reassess our presumptions about soft tissues, biomechanics and behavior. It calls into view how much we don’t know about dinosaurs and – in relation to these unknowns – how plausible speculation can be. How important. As a book, I find All Yesterdays timely, important and well done.
As a movement, All Yesterdays is problematic.
A semantic issue is that the character of a movement implies that this something new rather than a corrective effect of the existing processes. A look at the artists who’ve managed to establish themselves shows that this isn’t the case. Good, speculative work comes from good artists involved in a scientific discussion in some form. Most have direct and involved exchanges with the scientists themselves. As in the book, this is a key factor.
The major issue is the question of where speculation stops and sensationalism begins. This is partly an issue of audience. I may take issue with something like spelunking sauropods, but it’s a quality image done with scientific consultation. I personally climb out of my mental participation, but it thematicizes the gargantuan mineral demands that a Diamantinasaurus would have had, and offers plenty of solid artistic skills. Successful,if only for the discussion. What I see as problematic however is the reference to Yesterdays as a sort of movement, as that shifts the focus dangerously close to speculation for speculation’s sake, which is right next door to the sensationalism practiced – among others – by television ‘documentaries’ out to make a good cut among the viewing public. The same sensationalism rightly abhorred by the palaeoart community. I know media producers who defend such formats as audience-oriented science with a healthy portion of speculation. Go figure.