Recreating the Paleolithic Cave Painting Experience of Altimara, Lascaux, or Chauvet.
There have been any numbers of books, and more recently, documentary films about these Paleolithic sites and the incredible art they contain. Testimony to the skills in conceptual artistry our distant human ancestors were capable of producing; and, doing so with the most primitive of means.
But what none of these print and other media presentations do is give us a feel for what it must have been like to enter into a dark and dank world of vast empty spaces, with the crudest of illumination in hand barely able to light a few square meter of those spaces, and there, setting about the task of creating those works of art. Art that rivals much of what humans have produced since that time.
How were they capable of visualizing the end result of their efforts under the circumstances of those environments? That is the awesome question we can’t help but ask.
Thus, the intent of this project is to replicate as closely as possible what that experience must have been like, by applying the most advanced and cutting edge combination of projection technologies available today, and thereby, create an exhibit having the greatest of public appeal and interest.
The following technical details provide a brief conceptual outline on how such an exhibit can be created. It is the first ever of its kind:
An approach, incorporating the technology from the advanced digital multi- projector presentation platform currently installed at the Hayden Planetarium. Using these 4-Chip Custom built projectors, capable of projecting a very high contrast ratio without revealing the luminance of the projector bulb, would encourage the visualization of the suspected lighting environments based on the theorized lighting technology available during the Paleolithic Age.
The artwork and natural textures of the cave would be captured by using beyond HD resolution cameras, capable of creating incredible high resolution imagery which would be used to serve as both the texture of the caves, the presentation of the artwork, as well as for video analysis / manipulation of the visual environment. In addition to this digital capture it would also be critical to use very high quality film to do a high DPI scan/ transfer, which could then be manipulated using the same tiling technology which is currently being used for our satellite imagery/ googlemaps as example.
This projection system would ultimately be Installed into a completely physically recreated grotto environment assembled from the renderings of three dimensional volumetric laser mapping solutions/technology. Possibly in combination with sonar and other metrics. This critical mapping of the topology of the cave is also needed to provide the necessary geometric data for the accurate warping of the content as textures onto the recreated surfaces of the cave.
Since the caverns of places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira, are no longer readily available for public visit today (except only to very few academic researchers, and these, under very short and restricted protocols), such an exhibit would provide a broader public awareness and knowledge of the human patrimony these sites contain.
-Joshua Sophrin (December 2011)