Lasers Reveal Underground ‘Super Henge’ (Popular Science)

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Stonehenge

Copyright BBC News

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A new, detailed map of the Stonehenge area, including the newly-discovered “super-henge” © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

Near the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, archeologists have found the buried traces of a “super henge” more than 4,900 feet in circumference. That’s about as big around as the Astrodome and Cowboys Stadium combined — and 14 times larger than the iconic stone circle. Scientists used various instruments to scan to a depth of up to 3 meters including a magnetometer, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and a 3D laser scanner.

The super henge is comprised of dozens of newly discovered features, including an array of up to more than 50 ten-foot pillars, some of which may still be deep underground. The surveyors also uncovered 17 ritual monuments, including “massive prehistoric pits” that may have been dug along astronomic lines, and a “long barrow” — a huge wooden building believed to have been used as a mortuary for excarnation (stripping flesh from bones).

Archeologists believe the Stonehenge complex was built and modified over a period of 11,000 years. Questions about the function of its various structures remain but new information is being uncovered as we read this which will change the history of Stonehenge as we have come to know it.

Because most of the clues about the ancient construction lie deep underground, the archeologists developed new techniques for finding the traces of pits and pillars. They beamed radar and lasers into the ground, and wheeled scanners over a vast area to study subtle changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

Not everything discovered at the site is millennia old. The surveyors were able to pinpoint practice trenches dug during the First World War to prepare troops for battle, as well as traces of a military airbase — one of the U.K.’s first — built at the site a few years later.

 Ground penetration A tractor pushes an antenna array designed to study buried remains of monuments. © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

Ground penetration – A tractor pushes an antenna array designed to study buried remains of monuments. © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

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3D Reconstruction A 3D rendering of a “long barrow” burial site based on traces of the wooden posts detected during the survey.© LBI ArchPro, Joachim Brandtner

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What was discovered about cave paintings will shock you and change the history books

Hand stencil in a cave in Indonesia, dated to at least 39,900 years old (photograph by Kinza Riza, via Nature.com)

Stencil of a hand from cave in Indonesia, possibly older than 39,900 years old (photo by Kinza Riza, via Nature.com)

New evidence was published last week in the journal Nature that proves Europe is no longer the birthplace of art. A team of archeologists from Australia and Indonesia headed by Maxime Aubert and Adam Brumm of Griffith University investigated a series of cave paintings in Maros on the southern part of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. These scientists analyzed the 12 stencils of human hands and two paintings of animals at seven different sites in the caves. The cave paintings had stalactite-like mineral growths that aided in the current dating of these paintings. The new  dating of rock art found in Indonesia dates to the same time as cave paintings at the Cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, Northern Spain. This proves that similar art was being made in the Pacific region of the world at the same time as the oldest European cave art and changes the present ideas about humans first developed the ability to produce art. Previously, these painting were assumed to be no more than 10,000 years old but newly developed techniques of examining mineral deposits created the circumstances to correctly date these works of art.

There are also cave paintings that date as early as 27,000 years ago making this a location that was used for approximately 13,000 years. Additionally, other cave paintings located about 1ookm away in the regency of Bone cannot be dated because they lack the mineral deposits but may possibly be just as old as the Maros cave paintings because of stylistic similarities.

The "pig-deer" and the adjacent hand outline (screenshot by the author via YouTube/Nature.com)

The “pig-deer” and the “signature” of the artist (screenshot by the author via YouTube/Nature.com and Hyperallergic.com

The “pig-deer” painting show above, also called a babirusa, is a bit younger than some of the other cave paintings with a date of approximately 35,400 years old, concurrent with Chauvet Caves. This animal painting is one of the oldest figural cave paintings in the world, possibly the oldest.

Maxime Aubert looking at cave art (from BBC News)

Maxime Aubert looking at cave art (from BBC News)

Archeologists believe these hand prints are approximately 40,0000 years old and the artists made them by blowing paint around hands that were pressed tightly to the cave walls and ceilings. Some of the hands in these caves in Indonesia are possibly the oldest hand paintings in the world.

 

Vatican Rents Out Sistine Chapel as New Visitor Limits Are Announced (Hyperallergic)

by Mostafa Heddaya on October 20, 2014 original article here.

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The Sistine Chapel (photo by BriYYZ/Flickr)

For the first time in its 600-year history, the Sistine Chapel has been rented out for a private event organized by Porsche, the Telegraph reported. The German automaker hosted a charity concert in the space for 40 guests on its €5,000-a-head (~$8,000) Porsche Travel Club tour of Rome over the weekend. Singing for the automotive enthusiasts under Michelangelo’s 16th-century frescoes was a choir from the 500-year-old Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Though it is not the first time such a concert has been held at the Sistine Chapel, it is the first time the audience has been a corporate donor rather than a private Vatican audience.

“It is an initiative which will support the Pope’s charity projects. It is aimed at big companies which, through the payment of a fee, can contribute to charity activities,” administrative director of the Vatican Museums Monsignor Paolo Nicolini told The Telegraph. The Vatican declined to disclose the exact amount changing hands, though in a coinciding announcement the Church announced it would cap the number of visitors to the Sistine Chapel at 6 million annually. The director of the Vatican Museums told The Telegraph that the site has “reached the maximum number of visitors possible.”

Corrosion from high visitor traffic is the primary worry for limiting the number of visitors to the space, which underwent an extensive restoration completed in 1994. It is unclear what mechanism — reservations or otherwise — the Vatican will adopt to curb visitor flow and behavior, currently thought to be around 5 or 6 million visitors per year. A reduction in access to the Sistine Chapel has been discussed since at least 2012, when the Italian literary critic Pietro Citati wrote that the crowds there “resemble drunken herds.”

The decision taken by the Vatican under Pope Francis seems to follow in the steps of his predecessor’s views on the subject. “When contemplated in prayer, the Sistine Chapel is even more beautiful, more authentic. It reveals itself in all its richness,” Pope Benedict XVI said in 2012.

The Camera as an Afterthought: Defining Post-Photography (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on October 7, 2014 original article here.

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera by Robert Shore

Christy Lee Rogers, “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (2012), from “Reckless Unbound” (all images courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

Photography as medium is not dead, but you can argue it is in a contemporary state of flux. In his new book Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, released last month by Laurence King Publishing, Robert Shore amasses 300 works by artists who are using photography in an altered state, whether it’s staged, found imagery, or claiming the digital as their own.

Cover of "Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera" (courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

Cover of “Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera” (courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

“Post-photography is a moment, not a movement,” Shore writes. The book claims to be the first publication to look specifically at these artists who are now experimenting intensely with the found and distorted in the visuals of photography. Shore sets the current scene in an introductory essay:

“Given the abundance of pre-existing visual material in our hyper-documented world, it’s unsurprising that an increasing amount of photographic art begins with someone else’s pictures. There’s nothing new about appropriating found imagery for fine-art purposes. But the sources, methods, and goals are fast-evolving. If digital culture has transformed photographic practice — that is, how pictures are taken and displayed — it has had no less profound an impact on how found materials are sought and then manipulated.”

Each artist in the large book with its cardboard cover is given space to discuss how and why they work in a “post-photography” mode. There’s Julia Borissova delicately collaging petals on vintage photographs from the St. Petersburg flea market, along with Steffi Klenz concocting volatile chemicals on negatives of furniture she stacks on the verge of collapse. Others create their own bridges between fiction and reality, like Cristina de Middel documenting the 1960s Zambian plan to send astronauts to the moon, giving imagery to a story that lacks it. The augmentation of reality by digital means is on heavy view, especially in appropriation like Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth that show highways bending at unnatural angles, revealing how the layered system of topography and aerial imagery actually works.

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Photographs of paintings with their museum glares by Jorma Puranen (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Cristina De Middel, "Iko Iko" from "The Afronauts" (2011)

Cristina De Middel, “Iko Iko” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Cristina De Middel, "Bongo" from "The Afronauts" (2011)

Cristina De Middel, “Bongo” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Yet there are all also artists actively working outside of digital manipulation, such as Christy Lee Rogers whose photographs in the water at night of people swirled in colored clothes resemble Old Masters paintings. “My intention is to create something magical that could exist, not something that I feel people will think is fake or false,” she explains.

Back in 2011, as Shore points out in Post-Photography, the World Press Photo awards caused quite a stir when Michael Wolf got an honorable mention for his A Series of Unfortunate Events Google Street View photographs. The continued break down and manipulation of photography as it stretches beyond its definitions is likely just beginning its cascade as more and more we view the world through the digital.

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Work by Brendan Flower in “Post-Photography” (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

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Nicole Belle, “Untitled,” from “Rev Sanchez” (2008)

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Michael Wolf, “Tokyo Compression 17″ (2010), a series on commuters on the train

Richard Mosse, "Rebel Rebel" (2010), from "Infra," taken with Aerochrome infrared film

Richard Mosse, “Rebel Rebel” (2010), from “Infra,” taken with Aerochrome infrared film

Benjamin Lowy, "Perspectives II: Nightvision" (2003-08), from "Iraq" taken with night-vision goggles US military issued ISKANDARIYA, IRAQ - JULY 15: US soldiers patrol a marsh-like field as units with the 509th Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry's Aviation Brigade launch a joint air assault, raiding over 30 targeted areas in a large rural area near Iskanderiyah on July 15, 2007 in Iskandariya, Iraq. The raid targeted IED production and a search for suspected insurgets. The area south of Baghdad has had little US army presence in the last 6 months, and is considered a haven for Al Qaeda in Iraq. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Reportage by Getty Images)

Benjamin Lowy, “Perspectives II: Nightvision” (2003-08), from “Iraq” taken with night-vision goggles issued by the US military

Has Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia Grown Out of Touch? (Hyperallergic)

by Laura C. Mallonee on October 1, 2014 original article here.

La Sagrada Familia in 2009, with cranes digitally removed. (image via Wikimedia)

La Sagrada Familia in 2009, with cranes digitally removed. (image via Wikimedia)

You might say that Antoni Gaudí was an architect of the cloth. From 1883 until his death in 1926, the Catalonian master oversaw the construction of the Roman Catholic basilica Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain. When people asked him why it was taking so long, he purportedly replied, “My client isn’t in a hurry.”

Nearly nine decades after his death, construction is still ongoing, and a new video released by the basilica (below) reveals how it will unfold over the next two years. By 2016, workers will have finished the sacristy and raking cornice and installed new stained glass windows. And if a video released last year (at the bottom of this post) can be believed, the building could be completely finished by 2026. It took less time to build Notre Dame.

he journey hasn’t been easy, though. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Gaudí’s original plans for La Sagrada Familia burned in a fire that destroyed his workshop. A few plaster models, drawings, and photographs were salvaged from the cinders and used, along with notes from Gaudí’s students, to piece together the rest. Through political change and architectural innovation, construction has marched on.

Yet the basilica has never been more at odds with its time. Aside from the fact that the West has grown increasingly secular, much has changed among Christians themselves since the 19th century, when Catholics and Protestants alike constructed costly imitations of Medieval cathedrals. Today, as Pope Francis underscores the need to care for the poor, it’s harder for Catholics to justify the continued construction of a church structure built entirely on expiations (monetary donations many believe will atone for their wrongdoings), not to mention the €12.50 admission fee coughed up by 2 million visitors every year.

Given Gaudí’s acclaim as an architect, it’s easy to ignore this murkier aspect of the building’s funding. The basilica remains an important architectural work; its crypt, constructed between 1884 and 1889, is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The selection of Gaudí to design La Familia Sagrada represented one of the few modern instances wherein the interests of the church and art world collided, but it may now be in both their interests to halt construction altogether. Over the past few years, many onlookers have raised concerns that the basilica’s contemporary additions fall far short of Gaudí’s vision. In 2008, more than 400 architects and historians signed Fomento de las Artes Decorativasmanifesto demanding that construction be stopped. And in 2011, architecture critic Rowan Moore argued in the Guardian:

The great Catalan architect famously adjusted his buildings as he went along, modifying details in response to unusual stones found in the quarry and forever testing his ideas with full size mock-ups … [La Sagrada Familia] is no longer a work of Gaudí. It cannot overcome the central paradox, which is that Gaudí’s architecture was organic, living and responsive, whereas posthumous simulation of his ideas makes them fixed and lifeless.

Continued construction not only raises questions about the ethics of the basilica’s funding during a time of severe austerity in Spain, but it reduces Gaudí’s masterpiece to the architectural equivalent of an overworked canvas.

For more info see my post about the arson attempt at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia here.