Posts From April, 2011

Light years away by Edurne Rubio – a review

I have been fortunate to attend a representation of “Light years away” by Ms. Edurne Rubio in Groningen, Netherlands. The artist is the daughter of one of the explorers of the cave system of Ojo Guareña, near Burgos, Spain and has a long and intimate connection with the caves. The performance mixes monologue, surround sound, video and theatrical performance. In its basic structure, it is the representation of a guided tour of the caves, one that is imaginary and not constricted by time or space. For those not knowing the caves, it is an extraordinary long (about 110 km known) cave system, with several subterranean lakes, at least 6 levels, and multiple openings. The upper cave system was frequented by humans from the Upper Paleolithic to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, in different moments, before being rediscovered only in the past century. There are significant traces of human presence, including complex panels of rock art, residues of torches, burials, and even ancient... Read the rest of this entry »

CSA Newsletter: continuing collaboration

I am happy to announce the April 2011 issue of the CSA Newsletter. "Project Publication on the Web -- II" What are the motivating factors? -- Andrea Vianello and Harrison Eiteljorg, II Website Review: Archaeological Institute of America The AIA's redesigned website. -- Phoebe A. Sheftel Website Review: Kerma An archaeological project from Africa on the web. -- Andrea Vianello "Calibration or Ground-Truthing Is Critical" Confidence in analyses requires confidence in the base data. -- Harrison Eiteljorg, II "Let Us Set the Mental Juices Flowing" Artifacts should tell a story, not be the story. -- Harrison Eiteljorg, II In this issue Harrison Eiteljorg, II and I are continuing an important series of articles on publishing archaeological projects online. This time, we deal with the issue of motivation: if you are uncertain about the relevancy of this series to you, this is the best article to begin reading the series. I am biased towards it, of course, but also very proud of where the... Read the rest of this entry »

3D artefacts in archaeology: some thoughts

Perhaps because archaeology still fascinates the great public, archaeologists are at the forefront of the use of some technologies for both research and communication of results. I have recently visited the exhibition on Growing Knowledge: The Evolution of Research at the British Library, London, including a section on "The Future of the Ancient World" research project by The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London. I shall focus on this section here. The display made of one PC running software displaying a few 3D reconstructions of artefacts and two 3D active glasses shows how museums are adapting to the digital age. It is easy to predict that soon enough it will be expected from archaeologists a stream of digital data suitable for archival and communication purposes together with the materials. At the moment, projects such as the one pioneered by the Petrie Museum are still experimental and attached to grants. UCL Museums and Collections have been awarded a grant... Read the rest of this entry »

Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams: a personal review

I have recently attended a screening of Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D about the parietal art at Chauvet Cave. I present here some comments from the experience, focusing on both the 3D technology and the archaeological (and cultural) value of the documentary. This is an unusual documentary in that it could be described as a personal video-diary of Werner Herzog in his exploration of the topic of the earliest Palaeolithic art in Europe (which he seems to think as the earliest evidence of symbolic or complex  thought, ignoring the evidence from Africa, such as the case of Blombos Cave). The photography is also amateurish for the most part (with good reason, as we shall see later), reinforcing the impression that the final product is not a typical documentary. The best recent example that comes to my mind of something similar is Attenborough and the Giant Egg, a factual program with David Attenborough presenting a personal research with as much focus on the researched... Read the rest of this entry »

Underwater semiotics

I read with interest Paul Bouissac's editorial entitled "Deep Sea Semiotics" in SemiotiX 2010 issue 3, and I would like to comment on it. I accept that the sea remains a great "unknown", largely because the depths have been off-limits for most people throughout human history. Its importance may be over-emphasised because of humans' recognition of the sea as a boundary between different worlds and the resulting stimulus to cross that boundary, to be a pioneer. I have some concerns about choosing manatees as species symbolising that environment because manatees are mammals, and although adapted to the underwater world, they still are found in coastal, shallow settings, hardly inaccessible to humans nowadays, and they have to resurface to breathe, an important aspect that betrays their origins outside the seas. The sea can be an alien world, but even our own world can be alien to us if seen through the senses of species significantly different from our own. For instance, this is the case ... Read the rest of this entry »