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Collection prehistorique 3 © ADAGP Camille Henrot.

See image documentation here

February - March 2014


Artefact 13: The Prehistory of the Image

With the artists: Aernoudt Jacobs, Anna Barham, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ben Rivers, Brassaï, Camille Henrot, Gábor Ösz, Geert Mul, Guy Königstein, Henri Michaux & Eric Duvivier, Ilona Gaynor, Jelle Feringa, Joachim Koester, Kianoosh Motallebi, Leila Arenou & Naime Perrette, Marguerite Humeau, María García-Ibánez, Marie Koelbæk Iversen, Matt Gatton, Salva Sanchis, Sascha Pohflepp, Chris Woebken & Jana Levin, Yvette Mattern

The Prehistory of the Image is an exhibition that takes the Paleo Camera Obscura Theory (PCOT) by the American artist Matt Gatton as a guide to study the origins of art. Within paleontology, the study of life in past geological records, there are several theories that attempt to explain how ‘early’ art was made. According to these scientists, cave drawings such as Lascaux in France served as gateways to other worlds, were used as part of rituals or gave narrative clues to people.

However, Matt Gatton claims that Paleolithic man received an example from nature. By narrow notches in the dwellings of those people, a natural camera obscura arose - projections of an outside world on a wall in a dark room. Gatton declares that man was touched by the animated images and subsequently was inspired to copy them. He founded his assumptions on the basis of mathematical models that take into account the number of times that a natural camera obscura can occur within a certain area and period and the chance that it would be seen.

Within the exhibition The Prehistory of the Image we ask the question of how the Paleo Camera Obscura Theory relates to contemporary art. On the basis of works by artists we draw a parallel and propose a paleontological history of the image.