Reproduction, Simulation and the Hyperreal: A Case Study of 'Lascaux III'

Wallis, Robert (2021). Reproduction, Simulation and the Hyperreal: A Case Study of 'Lascaux III'. In: Rozwadowski, Anrzej and Hampson, Jamie eds. Visual Culture and Identity: Using Rock Art to Reconnect Past and Present. Oxford: Archaeopress.



The Lascaux International Exhibition, dubbed ‘Lascaux III’, is an international travelling exhibition which launched in 2012. The core of the exhibition is five ‘facsimile’ reproductions, using cutting-edge ‘stone veil’ technology, of those parts of the cave not displayed at the replica known as Lascaux II which is located near the original cave. Other elements of the show include a 3D film journey through and scale models of the cave interior, life-size ‘hyperrealistic’ reconstructions in silicone of Cro-Magnon humans by artist Élisabeth Daynès, interactive multimedia consoles and ‘prototype’ copies of artefacts from the cave complex. In this paper, I draw on Lindauer’s method of critical museum visiting in order to examine the re-use, reproduction and simulation of the art, architecture and archaeology of Lascaux in the Lascaux III exhibition. As the original cave has been closed to the public since 1963 and the replica known as ‘Lascuax II’ lacks 10% of the art including the infamous ‘shaft scene’, a key strength of the show was the opportunity to view accurate facsimiles of this unseen art close-up and in the context of the topography of the cave wall, which is flattened out in photographs and other reproductions. None the less, the replicas and other reproductions in the exhibition raise interesting issues surrounding the ‘authenticity’ of visitors’ experience and the reproduction superseding the original, which I approach in terms of Baudrillard’s concepts of ‘simulation’ and ‘hyperreal’.

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