Antropark was created as part of the website of the Academy of Sciences in Brno in 2005.
Translated by Tereza Štréglová
© Update Antropark 2012, Autor and Illustrations © Libor Balák
Contact - Libor Balák: email@example.com
Project Antropark developed from a privat internet picture gallery, which was showing the uniqueness of the prehistoric Moravian Gravettien as an excellent center of civilization that gained many world primacies. Actually, it should have been a continuation of efforts began by professor Karel Absolon, who tried to show the unique archaeoligical discoveries to the czech and world public in the ´20s of the 20th century. At the same time, the project should have proved if the art style illusory realism, known through the work of painter Zdeněk Burian, was still actual and supertemporal.
Today, Antropark is part of science, museology and media. Especially the images of people from the legendary epoque „The mammoth hunters“ from Sungir are in great demand and we can say, that they are part of our today´s culture. The first public images were made in the late ´90s, and they were shown both on the web sites and on traditional exhibitions. Secretely, I listened to the visitors of the exhibitions and reflected their remarks in my later work. Finally, I find out that brand new paintings reconstructions are unconceivable for the people, who have no other information. At that time, people quite frequently expected the prehistoric people to be primitive and crude and they missed these characteristics on the images. Therefore, I was forced to move to a simpler, more straightforward explanatory reconstruction. One that would be so simple, that it was never done efore. It seemed strange to deal with the statues of Venus and their hairstyles, while nobody considered it important in the 20th century or sometime before. At the same time, American researcher Dr. Olga Soffer, Ph.D. began to explore the Venus statues.
It was interesting to find out, that no researcher had dealed with archaeological most typical culture – Gravettien – so far. It was fascinating to be the first to discover the possibilities of how the northern clothing on the decorated statues looked like and be the first to see the body decorations of thirty to twenty thousand years old people.
Until then, the pictured people simply had some teeth hung arround their necks and were dresed in roughly stitched togehter leather or fur. Respecting the sculptures was something completely new and amazing, and the same situation was with the graves. Such reconstructions were maintained in Russia years ago, when they tried to reconstruct the face appearance after the face of M. M. Gerasimov, but these reconstructions were not so attractive for the viewers and furthermore, the decorating clothes were only indicated on the busts of the children from Sungir.
So I set about to create something, that will be finally completely processed, and, at the same time, attractive for viewers. This is how the reconstruction of the Sungir man and children began. The images would literally travel arround the world and persuade the viewers, that prehistory was something completely different from what we have been presented so far. Antropark set out for another direction. We focused on all world breakthroughs in both archeology and other branches, which have much to say about our early ancestors.
For example, there are great breakthroughs in morfology from 1960s, that have not been included in the reconstructions so far. We have a developing sociobiology, the great evolutional biology with memetics and cultural anthropology as well, full of stimulating observations and astounding discoveries. Finally, there is genetics, which definitively disclaimed the idea that the images of prehistory are created in imagination of an uninitiated artist with a pencil and piece of paper.
To discover and understand the former times, it´ s necessary to merge together the findings of many disciplines and connect the natural and social sciences and handle all this in a professional way so it all made a sense. This means a lot of work, again and again. Perhaps sometime in a distant future, I will sketch how the Neanderthals and their settlements could look like. Hopefully sometime in a few decades.
What takes so long? All of this are well known things. We can see them on TV, in museums, on the internet. But all these presentments have one thing in common: they are made very hastily. How did the people and the society look like becomes important first when there is a need to present it on television or exhibition. Than, everybody tries to find shortcuts which often ends up as a simple repeating of what has been already shown before, or something very immature and indegested is produced.
Why are these research centers so unprofessional? But it´s even worse - such specialized professional departements don´t exist. Even the Antropark, connected in a special way with the official science, has no professional background of official institution. It is just an outline, what could we achieve, if…
Antropark is a journey full of adventures, where it´s common to be the first one. It is fascinating to be the first to look at an ancient sculpture and recognize former hairstyles, clothing or ornaments. It is unbelievable to know that you are the first one after thousands of years to discover, how did the ancient cultures perceived the world arround them, what did they feel, what were they able to manage, what were their options. Antropark means to be a lonely vanguard, brave explorer, which reveals, how did the skin of ancient people looked like or learns the secret of repeated principles of behaviour of the old cultures. There are many opportunities where we can still be first, it´s an incredibly huge oportunity. Antropark is an adventurous journey into the past - but also an adventure showing us, how not to get lost in the world, how to reach out to it, how to try to get some space and means for exploring the simplest and most fundamental questions of science. Science and art are namely one big ovewhelming adventure in our world.
About the author
Image reconstructions presented on these web sites are created by artist Libor Balák.
Libor Balák is a painter, student of a world famous artist Zdeněk Burian. Like his teacher, he primarily illustrated books. Later, he participated on creating well-known computer games Vietcong 1 and 2. He also made portraits, free paintings (sci-fi, fantasy, living nature, elements, space, acts, etc.), package design and posters (graphics, paintings). In recent years, he only creates prehistorical reconstructions for museums or other interested persons or deals with the basic research. His reconstructions are now displayed in many museums around the world. He is a promoter of professional and precise reconstruction of prehistoric times and author of the rules of procedure during reconstructions for universities and museums and for those, who wants to gain some knowledge in this field. He also teaches this discipline at universities. He brought the modern reconstructional paleoethnology into life. He is a long-time collaborator of many experts from universities and research institutions (for example Moravian museum in Brno, the Masaryk University Faculty of Arts in Brno, the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Brno, the Technical museum in Brno and others.) He is open to other possibilities of co-operation in promoting of critical examination and assessment of old cultures and their presentations.
Currently we are looking for the most efficient and flexible way to provide the operation of Antropark, which means handling the technical materials and securing the creation of new paintings. We are open to all new ideas and help from museums, universities, research institutes, federations and associations or private persons.
Please accept our invitation to the author's personal website, where you can find other works by brush and pen
Monthly reports on the activities of the Antropark
(only in Czech version - use online translator)
Steps towards the institutionalization of the field reconstruction paleoetnologie
(only in Czech version - use online translator)
Kontakt - Libor Balák: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Updates Antropark 2012, Author and Illustrations © Libor Balák