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How Art Made the World

 

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The experts of How Art Made the World series reveal crucial points in understanding how art helped to shape mankind, and how mankind, in turn, helped shap art.

EPISODE 1 - "MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN"

Professor V.S. Ramachandran, Neuroscientist

The Herring Gull Test

The Herring Gull Test

Professor Ramachandran explains the Herring Gull Test, an experiment with baby seagulls which illustrates the neurological principle of peak shift - the hard-wiring of brains to focus on parts of objects that matter the most. Peak shift is fundamental to understanding why we prefer exaggerated images of the human body.

Ramachandran is the Director for the Center for Brain & Cognition and a professor at the Psychology Department & Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego. He has published over 120 papers in scientific journals and is the author of the critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain.

EPISODE 2 - "THE DAY PICTURES WERE BORN"

Professor David Whitely, Archaeologist

The Cahuilla People

The Cahuilla People

David Whitely, an expert on California rock art sites, became fascinated with the ancient rock images of Riverside County. Painted in the heart of the Cahuilla Indian community, these Images were not hidden away, but seemingly painted for everyone to see.

Whitely is one of the leading North American experts on rock art, and his key books on this topic include Art of the Shaman and Handbook of Rock Art Research. He has done fieldwork in the US, Guatemala, France, and South Africa, and has taught at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of California, Los Angeles.

EPISODE 3 - "THE ART OF PERSUASION"

Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrick, Wessex Archaeology

Gold at Stonehenge

Gold at Stonehenge

A chance discovery of a burial site near Stonehenge, led Andrew Fitzpatrick and his team to uncover the skeleton of a man dating back nearly 4,500 years. Buried with him were two gold ornamental objects, the possession of which indicates this man was a powerful leader in the community that probably built Stonehenge, one of Europe's largest prehistoric monuments.

Andrew Fitzpatrick works for Wessex Archeology in the UK. He has written extensively about the wider Stonehenge Area in light of the new archeological finds such as the Amesbury Archer, the Boscombe Bowmen and the Boscombe pit circle.

EPISODE 4 - "ONCE UPON A TIME"

David Attenborough, Television Presenter

Power of Images and Sound

Power of Images and Sound

In the 1960's a young British television presenter named David Attenborough arrived in Australia with his TV crew. He revealed to a world-wide audience the secret that gave the single-image Aboriginal painted stories their power to last for thousands of years.

Now in his 70s, Sir David Attenborough's most recent project includes one of the most innovative natural history TV series yet - Planet Earth. Sir David was awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen in 2005, an honor which recognizes exceptional distinction in the arts and sciences.

EPISODE 5 -"TO DEATH AND BACK"

Sheldon Solomon and Jeff Greenberg, Professors of Social Psychology

Death Images

Death Images

The knowledge that we are going to die and there is nothing we can do about is terrifying. But psychologists theorize that through the use of art, there is a way of easing this fear, thereby coming to terms with our own death.

Solomon and Greenberg are psychology professors at, respectively, Skidmore College and the University of Arizona, Tucson. Together they have published many articles in the experimental social science literature on Terror Management Theory.