This Is What Humans Looked Like 30,000 Years Ago

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The Paris-based sculptor Elisabeth Daynès listens to bones, to the remains of our evolutionary ancestors that have lived up to three million years ago. Throughout her prolific 20 year career, the “paleoartist” has worked from the skulls of wooly mammoths to species of hominid to create vividly detailed figures. Based on 18 data points that mark the bone, she can use a computer to model facial features that she later shapes out of clay. She refers to research and other bone samples to determine the build of her subjects, and ultimately she creates a silicone cast, complete with delicate painted features: veins, goosebumps, blemishes.

In a final step towards humanizing her sculptures, Daynès includes prosthetic eyes, teeth, and hair, each of which is as historically and scientifically accurate as possible. Current research suggests that Neanderthals, for example, had red hair; for her uncanny hominids, that range from Homo sapien to Homo erectus, she uses a blend of human hair. In her mind’s eye, the artist draws an informed portrait of each subject she reanimates; from the bones, she can determine period, sex and age, along with finer details like culture, climate, diet, and health.

For Daynès, this process is as much an art as it is a science. Ultimately, she hopes to reconnect with our past, embarking on a forensic search of what makes us human. Dismayed by the ways in which early human ancestors are reviled as unintelligent brutes, she injects her creations with a powerful dose of humanity; their brows furrow with concentration, and their eyes are painfully gentle. She explains “missing” them when they leave her studio for a permanent home in a museum. Take a look. (via Daily Mail and Lost at E Minor)
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Cradle of Mankind – The Tribes of Ethopia & The birthplace of Homo Sapiens

Cradle of Mankind is the newest series by Canadian-born photographer, Joey L. Shot in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, and featuring portraits of the various tribes that inhabit the area. The photographs are a deeply moving, visual homage to the tribal peoples of Ethiopia, the birthplace of Homo sapiens.

The photographs from Cradle of Mankind, along with Joey L.’s documentary film, Faces of a Vanishing World (watch the trailer after the jump)– which first aired on Ovation TV in September 2010, chronicle the artist’s deep interest in Ethiopia, and the rapid transition of it’s oldest cultures. During his time in the country, Joey L. lived with various tribes in the region, learning the different customs of each while capturing individual portraits. Though these tribes may seem untouched by time, they are in fact in constant danger of disappearing forever. The artist states in a 2010 NPR interview that he is interested in anthropology and likes photographing different cultures, “but the ones I’ve been paying attention to lately are the, I suppose what you’d call vanishing ones, … the cultures that are on the verge of extinction, tribes that are threatened by progress and losing their language and losing their ways of life that they’ve sustained for thousands of years.”

See a selection of Cradle Of Mankind from June 21st-August 4th 2012 at Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles

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