An amateur archaeologist has decoded what experts describe as “the first known writing in the history of Homo sapiens,” according to a paper published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
Ben Bacon, a furniture restorer by day, spent his nights analyzing photographs of cave paintings, according to The Times. His hobby led to the “first specific reading of European Upper Palaeolithic communication,” the journal article reads.
The code inscriptions that Bacon, 67, decoded appear in at least 400 caves across Europe which are up to 25,000 years.
The writing was discovered approximately 150 years ago but has perplexed scientists ever since.
However, Bacon deduced that paleolithic hunter-gatherers would store data about the animals they needed to kill to survive in the cave drawings of bulls, horses, aurochs, and stags, using codes to detail their breeding cycle based on the lunar cycle beginning in spring.
For example, a line or a dot would mean months, so four dots or lines would represent the fourth month after the start of spring. Then, a symbol resembling the letter Y was used to mean “to give birth,” the journal article says, and the position of the Y amongst the dots or lines would indicate a due date.
Sharing knowledge of their preys’ breeding season would have been important information for the Stone Age hunters because it meant that large herds of animals could be forming, said Professor Paul Pettitt of Durham, per The Times.
Bacon told The Times that he believed this discovery had the power to change our understanding of Stone Age communities.
“They’ve conventionally been thought of as superstitious people who try to use hunting magic to kill animals,” he told the newspaper, adding, “The signs are actually a scientific observational database of information that they build up over many years and sometimes decades.”
“I had to seek art out. It wasn’t easy. Here it is right in front of you. It’s incredible,” said Bourscheid about RAG’s central location by Zoom from Luxembourg recently. “It’s in a community space. It’s pretty cool.”
“I think when it becomes about the art market often it can become something very elite and something that is hard to understand,” said Bourscheid, who splits his time between Luxembourg and Vancouver as his wife, fellow artist Vanessa Brown, is from Vancouver. “I think art is for everybody. That’s the main thing.
“It’s nice that here people can just walk by and walk in.”
Bourscheid’s new show offers up his signature approach of using handmade costumes, props and crafts to look at and challenge deep-rooted cultural values and relationships.
“I usually say I work in different media,” said Bourscheid. “I work in photography, video, performance, sculpture, drawing and that often it starts with a costume and with my own body then it turns, while doing it, into something. The costume or prop itself decides where it is going.”
For the exhibition here, Bourscheid is premiering a new 45-minute, two channel video titled Agnes, which he says is a homage to the hard work of his seamstress single mother. Agnes is her middle name.
“It’s a lot about labour and housework,” said Bourscheid about the 45-minute video accompanied by a recreation of the video’s set complete with the costumes and props from the shoot.
RAG director Shaun Dacey programmed the Bourscheid show and says that for the past few years he has been watching Bourscheid develop, specifically through work with the VAG and Western Front, and was drawn to the “theatricality of his practice.”
“When speaking to Mike I was surprised to find out he had never had a solo exhibition in Vancouver and we wanted to give him the opportunity to play in our space,” said Dacey by email. “With this new project Mike engages familial memory through costume, set-building and video. I am interested in this body of work through his performance of a sort of masculine drag, exaggerating and interrogating this gender performance, as a clown and a cowboy, among other characters.”
The Chan-curated show Codes of Silence features the video artists Haitian/American Shirley Bruno, Aleesa Cohene, a Canadian based in Los Angeles, Caroline Monnet, an Indigenous artist based in Montreal, and American Cauleen Smith.
“I think we are accustomed to the voice being a mode of expression. A way of communicating identity. Who we are. But I also wanted to think of ways of communicating that was not so public-facing but kind of delving inward,” said Chan during a phone call. “For example, in Cauleen Smith’s video we see the artist making bouquets. Paying homage basically to someone who has died. So, there is this really ritualistic moment where they are just silently making flowers and we know that this is an act of mourning, but there are no words spoken.
“So maybe it is also kind of saying too that words are not necessarily enough. And inviting the public to consider and focus in on these quieter moments that are more internal and inner-facing and asking the visitors to really listen.”
Chan, who joined the RAG last spring, added that the video presentations will be complimented by art work from the gallery’s own collection.
Chan, like Bourscheid, appreciates the accessibility of the gallery and the deep community roots that have been nurtured with the help of location.
“We’re not just getting art aficionados coming to the gallery,” said Chan. “People are stopping by out of curiosity. We are very interested first and foremost in engaging our local communities, but we also hope we are presenting exciting programming that will interest a wide range of people … Any kind of engaged citizen.”
AI art is arguably the most contentious topic in the world of art and design right now. For every seemingly innocuous image of a bird with human hands, there’s a debate over the ethics and copyright issues surrounding the tech. But hey, at least now you can replace your ex with a snake!
Picsart, one of our best graphic design tools, has revealed Replace My Ex – a novel application of its fairly standard AI Replace tool. In various examples, ex-partners are transformed into snakes, red flags and, er, baguettes.
“We’ve all been there,” Picsart says (opens in new tab). “You have a photo where you look super cute, but it’s tainted by the presence of someone no longer in your life. You’d rather not see or think about them, but don’t necessarily want to delete the hundreds (or even thousands) of photos you have together. Whether it’s your ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend or just ex-friend, Picsart’s AI Replace allows you to replace people in photos with virtually anything you can think of. It’s super easy and can be done in just a few seconds with no design skills required.”
Currently available on iOS only, AI Replace lets the user describe brush over an object, then describe in words what they wish to replace it with (“i.e. a snake, a red flag, a dog, a burrito”).
Indeed, it seems new AI art controversies are emerging every day right now. From last month’s ArtStation protests to Getty banning AI-generated images from its library over copyright concerns and people using the tools to copy specific artists’ styles, the tech is causing all manner of disturbance online.