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Douglass W Bailey marries art and archaeology for a new science: Archart

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In his fundamentally inventive scientific work on art and archaeology Douglass W Bailey, San Francisco State University, in principally new way relates art to archaeology to art. He wrote:

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“I am convinced that the relationships of art to archaeology are not of one discipline visiting another in order to find new ways of thinking about the past or to provide analogies to ease understandings of the deep past or to formulate increasingly accurate reconstructions of an ancient world. The relationships of art to archaeology are to move away from both disciplines into new spaces.” (Bailey, 2013: 247-248).

Using anthropomorphism, it is like a marriage that brings new children. From theory perspective, it is not an issue of interdisciplinarity; not complimentary relationship; not cross-research - it is an interaction for a quality new product.

Does this new methodology work for new scientific results?

The best positive example is archaeological art as a newly defined discipline, an offspring of marriage of archaeology and art (Archart).

We still do not have an Encyclopedia of archaeological art which would include from prehistoric memorial artistic objects to dead metal CD covers and texts and comics and contemporary conceptual abstract art, and graffiti, and even Christmas ornaments which have own individual memory transmitted from generation to generation.

The children are always a new word. They have the DNA connection with the kin, but they create their own individual world. This is the case with Archart.

If we follow the thought of Bailey, which is scientifically correct and globally fruitful for revolutionary change of science from reproductive to productive human mind, the new exists in past as a sperm for the new as unique creature. Science is not a seed which reproduces nature. Science is comparable with male sperm, because any human being is a new individual cosmos. Culture has been trying to standardize people, but it cannot. Culture always loses the battle with human mind when it comes to inventions and innovations, although many of the innovations in combination with power create disasters for the world.

Archaeological art (Archart) is a powerful enculturation means in today’s world of contrasts and of enemies of humanity who have been trying to poison the humanity with visible and invisible means of deculturation and demoralization. Many of the artworks may create a contrast of goal and results. For instance, this year huge ad of Merry Christmas paid by Russian Airlines on the main train station at Frankfurt am Main (see the slide show) looks like an archaeological monster for those who very well know and experience the Russian aggressive politics of pressure of humanity in the contemporary world. Russian Airline brings the tradition of Christmas on the stage of ad business to communicate lie since how is possible to wish somebody Merry Christmas being part of most devastating aggressive and demoralizing world.

Materialized tradition is archaeology, then, all ads related to tradition are also part of contemporary archaeological art. And as the huge archaeological monster ad of Russian airlines at Frankfurt a. Main train station shows in December 2013, archaeological art can be misused for communication of dishonesty, lie and for covering of aggressiveness which usually has been punished by humankind.

Contemporary archaeological art can be also integrated as new leaves of tree of national cultures and of global culture. For instance, archaeologically well documented as active culture constructors of music identity, gypsies (Roma) today have been rebuilding their ethnic identity by becoming in some cases the only culture which entertains the rest of the world. What Germans and tourists can see at Frankfurt City Christmas center (see the slides) is not an accident or an exception – hard working gypsy family of musicians has been entertaining Germans and tourists today with their own Gypsy music on their own Gypsy language and the people were going crazy to have taken pictures because they liked them as the only musical tree on the stage of Christmas which is presumably the most entertaining season of the year. There are missing the stages for the student groups and this empty cell was immediately occupied of highly disciplined and enculturated in German spirit gypsies. They were so motivated in bringing entertainment to Christmas shopping center in Frankfurt am Main that people including the author could not leave this group of musicians in way in which they could not leave the best German-born street artists 20 years ago.

Then, Bailey is right: don’t integrate scientific discipline, think about marriage as something that brings the new and unique. It could be unique not as a form, but as function, as a moment expression, and as a voice of humanity or masked dangerous aggressiveness.

Archaeological art is one of the most sensitive expressions of human culture. It requires deep culture and also sensitive understanding.


Bailey, D. W. (2013). Art // archaeology // art: letting-go beyond. In Russell, I. & A. Cochrane, A. (Eds), Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms (pp. 231-50). New York: Dordrecht: Spring.


Society for Visual Anthropology



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