How Art Made The World (2006) KCET / BBC Co-Production

The Art Of Persuasion

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Video Description

 

The leaders of most modern countries exploit a powerful political tool - the power of images. These techniques, in fact, were invented thousands of years ago by the leaders of the Ancient World. But how do politicians actually use images to persuade us - often without us even knowing? How did they do it thousands of years ago? An ancient gravesite near Stonehenge revealed an important man buried with beautifully crafted gold ornaments - probably the only such gold objects in Britain at the time. This gold, so impossibly rare, would have dazzled the locals, creating the image of a leader. So clearly it was learned early on in human history that art as personal adornment enhanced your status.

In other parts of the ancient world, however, many leaders had vast empires with many disparate conquered people to rule, and possessing fine jewelry was not enough to get their kingly message across. Darius the Great, King of the Persians, came up with the first art political logo, with Alexander the Great later expanding on the concept by imprinting his face on coins that flooded his empire. Augustus of Rome, forty years before Christ, fabricated the first political lie by creating a series of statute portraits that made him appear to be a man of the people, while ruthlessly exterminating the competition. Modern politicians use techniques similar to those invented by rulers of old, but instead of paint and marble, they use digital technology. But whatever the final form, people remain as vulnerable now as ever to the persuasive power of art.

Documentary Description

HOW ART MADE THE WORLD, a lively and provocative investigation into the far-reaching influence of art on society, airs on PBS over five consecutive Mondays, June 26-July 24, 2006. Check local listings. Acclaimed art historian and University of Cambridge lecturer Dr. Nigel Spivey hosts. Dr. Spivey takes viewers on a quest to comprehend mankind's unique capacity to understand and explain the world through artistic symbols. Speaking in colorful, non-technical language and aided by state-of-the-art computer graphics, Spivey explores the latest thinking by historians, neuroscientists and psychologists regarding the deep-seated and universal human desire to create art.

Each one-hour episode begins with a modern-day mystery that Spivey seeks to untangle through examinations of some of the most exquisite artifacts ever discovered. Combining aspects of history, archeology, forensics, sociology and aesthetics, Spivey leads an extraordinary video expedition that spans 100,000 years and five continents: from the vast galleries of prehistoric art in the caves of Altamira and Lascaux, to astonishing Native-American and African rock paintings, to the treasures of Ancient Egypt and Classical Greece, right up to the pop culture and advertising imagery that bombards us in the digital age. Far more than a survey of art history, HOW ART MADE THE WORLD explores the essential functions art served in early civilizations and, in some cases, still serves in modern society. Beyond that, the series seeks answers to such vexing questions as: What made our ancient ancestors create art in the first place? What are the forces that subconsciously guide the artist's hand? Why, from the very beginning, have we preferred images of the human body with distorted or exaggerated features? 

HOW ART MADE THE WORLD takes advantage of the latest computer-generated imaging (CGI) technology to bring to life the dazzling sights of the ancient world that time and humanity have destroyed. Whether it's the splendor of Persepolis or Luxor, the glory of ancient Rome or the Biblical city of Jericho, CGI allows the modern viewer to exult in sights that haven't been seen for thousands of years.

Source: PBS

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