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Figuring It Out, new in paperback this autumn, is a compelling, richly illustrated analysis by a distinguished archaeologist of why the processes of archaeological investigation and discovery have been paralleled by the installations and art works of many artists, from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Central to the exploration is a group of leading contemporary artists, including Richard Long, Mark Dion, Barry Flanagan, Antony Gormley, Eduardo Paolozzi and David Mach, whose works are notable for an engagement with our world.
This volume presents a collection of interdisciplinary collaborations between contemporary art, heritage, anthropological, and archaeological practitioners. Departing from the proceedings of the Sixth World Archaeological Congress’s ‘Archaeologies of Art’ theme and Ábhar agus Meon exhibitions, it includes papers by seminal figures as well as experimental work by those who are exploring the application of artistic methods and theory to the practice of archaeology. Art and archaeology: collaborations, conversations, criticisms encourages the creative interplay of various approaches to ‘art’ and ‘archaeology’ so these new modes of expression can contribute to how we understand the world. Established topics such as cave art, monumental architecture and land art will be discussed alongside contemporary video art, performance art and relational arts practices. Here, the parallel roles of artists as makers of new worlds and archaeologists as makers of pasts worlds are brought together to understand the influences of human creativity.
Recent years have witnessed a search for new sources for archaeological inspiration within areas which until recently have not been imagined as a source for science. Archaeology has become more “anthropologized”, and, as such, is becoming increasingly influenced by the Zeitgeist, although some European schools are yet to recognize this. The process of scientific research that archaeologists have always considered to be an objective approach has been revealed to be the result of different subjective cognitive processes, forming part of the contemporary humanistic paradigm, a fact confirmed by new tendencies in contemporary archaeology. Consequently, this book considers the question: how does the archaeologist think today? Beginning with simple analogies issued from archaeological experiments or from ethnography, the structure of the contemporary archaeological thought is increasingly complex, working today with concepts that only yesterday were a subject of study. This book considers these new types of approaches, through a series of personal narratives provided by archaeologists, describing their working methods in the process of imagining the past.
A fascinating review of archaeological Great Britain, covering the deep archaeology of this long-settled island—from early hominid remains through the modern world—as well as Great Britain’s role in the larger archaeological realm.
"This book exhorts the reader to embrace the materiality of archaeology by recognizing how every step in the discipline's scientific processes involves interaction with myriad physical artifacts, ranging from the camel-hair brush to profile drawings to virtual reality imaging. At the same time, the reader is taken on a phenomenological journey into various pasts, immersed in the lives of peoples from other times, compelled to engage their senses with the sights, smells, and noises of the publics and places whose remains they study. This is a refreshingly original and provocative look at the meaning of the material culture that lies at the foundation of the archaeological discipline."--Michael Brian Schiffer, author of The Material Life of Human Beings "This volume is a radical call to fundamentally rethink the ontology, profession, and practice of archaeology. The authors present a closely reasoned, epistemologically sound argument for why archaeology should be considered the discipline of things, rather than its more commonplace definition as the study of the human past through material traces. All scholars and students of archaeology will need to read and contemplate this thought-provoking book."--Wendy Ashmore, Professor of Anthropology, UC Riverside "A broad, illuminating, and well-researched overview of theoretical problems pertaining to archaeology. The authors make a calm defense of the role of objects against tedious claims of 'fetishism.'"--Graham Harman, author of The Quadruple Object

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