News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.
The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Paleolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.
“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.
Azema and other archaeologists have found small disks called thaumatropes which were carved from bone in Paleolithic times and acted as a crude, mini movie camera by tricking the eye. Azema thinks these artists used similar tools to create the drawings, which give us a glimpse at the first origins of what we know as cinema…and they did it well before those credited with the invention in the 19th century.
Azema and Rivere have published their amazing findings in the most recent issue of Antiquity and say it is a significant find for humanity.
“Prehistoric man foreshadowed one of the fundamental characteristics of visual perception, retinal persistence,” Azéma and Rivère write.