Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Art of Making Faces from Fossils

-C. Paula de los Angeles

I've always wondered how we get the human-like faces we see at museums from mere bones (i.e. the shrinking heads at the Pitt Rivers museum). It seems like each exhibit would just be the interpretation of an artist. In fact, there are such artists--paleoartists. An article in The New York Times details the life of one such artist, Mr. Viktor Deak. He is the mind behind many of the images of hominids at the American Museum of Natural Museum and the co-author of "The Last Human".

His latest work, a 78-foot long Photoshop collage mural of his own photos, detailing the life story of bones found in northeast Africa in the past 6 million years will be displayed in Manhattan this June, in addition to many other works in an exhibit entitled "Lucy's Legacy". In his interpretation, he used pictures from middle America and the Puerto Rican jungle to mimic the African landscape millions of years ago.

Mr. Deak's training includes art school and visiting the SUNY Downstate Medical School campus to dissect cadavers. His work is controversial in the same way that anything that deals with evolution, there are some people who still believe in a young Earth.

To which he replies, "I felt a chill of fear. I still do when I think about it. I’ve seen, sometimes firsthand, the evidence that came out of the ground. It’s terrifying that people can look at it and say, ‘It’s not there’ and believe in something that was just dictated to them.”

It seems as there are many opportunities for those interested in our history and evolution. Moreover, Mr. Deak seems to exemplify that there are many ways that we can believe or gain an understanding of a scientific theory, such as evolution, even through something seemingly unrelated, as art.

Check out his work here: http://www.anatomicalorigins.com
News article link here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/science/02prof.html?pagewanted=1&8dpc&_r=1

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