Archive for June 27th, 2006

How reviews made the world

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Okay, as promised, I watched “How Art Made the World” on PBS last night, and overall I quite enjoyed it. It’s gimmicky — mainly in the editing and soundtrack — but not desperately so, and there were some very cool moments:

  • Spivey holding the wee 4-inch Venus of Willendorf in his hand. I knew it was small, but seeing it held really brings it home.
  • The montage of other venuses from all over the Mediterranean. Some of them are so alike you’d think they were carved by the same hand.
  • Prof. V.S. Ramachandran explaining how exaggerated features are intensely stimulating to seagull chicks as a prism through which to view these highly unrealistic venuses.
  • A recreation of the Italian diver uncovering the Bronzi di Riace. Yes that’s right. I actually found a recreation compelling. That’s a first for me, let me tell you.
  • The montage of Greek statuary showing the development of anatomical realism.
  • The explanation of the Greek version of exaggerated physical features, using a living model and some computer graphics to describe how the Greeks divided the body into planes and then sought to make each section different but balanced.
  • The examination of the Bronzi di Riace as examples of Greek exaggeration despite their seeming realism.
  • I’m looking forward to the follow-up episodes. Until then, I’ll leave you with a little something fun to look at courtesy of the Bronzi di Riace.

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