Red and Hands

Red and Hands

I finally made something that just might be Archaeography worthy, so I abused my limited moveabletype knowledge and posted an entry over there about the wall paintings and Second Life.  Let’s hope I didn’t break anything in the process.

(I reposted it below as Archaeography is no longer)

This past summer I excavated a series of paintings on a platform at Çatalhöyük, the last being a spectacular series of five hands, negative white with a red background, all pointing west. While collaborating on the archive report with my fellow excavators, I decided to reconstruct the “red phase” of Building 49 in Second Life so we could see how the building might have looked while in this phase. The painting of the hands was part of the phase, and I began “fixing” it in photoshop, removing animal holes and replacing patchy areas of the paint, so I could import it into the virtual reconstruction.

The process made me uneasy, and very aware that I was not presenting a “real” or a “fake” representation of the past, but something in the hazy middle, a third space that does not exist for the archaeologists or the people of the neolithic, but a space that exists digitally. I decided to push this boundary, and made an even more figurative version, an unambiguous white and red representation that would better suit the cartoonish world of Second Life. It would look more real, make more visual sense in the context on Second Life than an if I had used an actual photo, baked on to the texture of the platform.

The fourth image is what brought the photographs together–I happened to glance up at one of the concrete buildings in downtown Berkeley, where someone had stenciled a hand, in negative, with a red background. I felt a nexus in the past/present/real/digital tangle come into sharp relief for one brief second, then become hopelessly, wonderfully intertwined once again.

I’ve been banging away at the buildings in Second Life–they’ll be ready by Wednesday, but only just!  The event is being pretty widely publicized, so let’s hope the servers in Linden world aren’t acting up that day.  I love that I’ve been able to get so much research for my dissertation finished, but I think I need a computer/media black-out week someday soon!

 

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

One thought on “Red and Hands”

  1. I think what has been going on with the digital reconstruction at the site is great, and I fully understand your issue with interpretation versus representation. Seeing as this is your dissertation, I’d love to hear your opinion on why we archaeologists feel the need to present the public version and the academic version separately. Is it not possible to integrate the two?

    Why not represent things with various colour schemes, such as the putting the rodent borough ‘fixed’ section in gray scale so people know the ‘reality’ of the site? Again, just wondering how you approach this situation.

    Love the blog!

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