More Human Than Human
More Human than Human is the first episode of the BBC series entitled How Art Made the World. This documentary discusses on how people in the past rarely use realistic human images. From little figurines, to cave paintings and murals, and up to towering statues, Dr.
Nigel Spivey investigates on how this has become so. The relics discovered were observed to have some body parts that were exaggerated while others were completely ignored.
These exaggerated parts are said to have certain significance to the people who created them. Dr. Ramachandran, a neurologist, explains a theory in which the brain tends to recognize certain things that will stimulate the body. A few thousand years later, Egyptian art was found to have been expressed through mathematical approaches rather than exaggerations. They chose to show human body parts from their clearest angles. On the other hand, the Greeks wanted to create realistic images.
When the two cultures clashed, an artistic revolution ignited and the Greeks reproduced their realistic human images in exact and perfectly measured dimensions. But later on, they abandoned this realism and went back to exaggerating. Over the years, exaggeration points have changed according to the preference of the humans. Exaggerating is said to make the images more interesting. In Asia, human images are very culturally influenced. The Chinese and Japanese give more details to the facial features and clothing.
They make it look more like how their people look like. From the hats, to the slit eyes, beards and mustaches, and to the long, flowing robes, the images seem more realistic. However, their statues and figures of Buddha and other gods have exaggerated features as well. The statues of Buddha are usually portrayed in squat position but accessories and features differ according to the people. Some have body parts which are not proportional with each other and others have certain features that satisfy their culture and religion.
Exaggeration changes over time as the taste of the people changes. What is pleasing to the eye in one generation might be completely unpleasant to another. Culture and religion also have their own effect on the preferences of people. While exaggerated sexual parts stimulate fertility for some, these types of exaggerations might wholly step unto others’ principles. However, Art is a personal expression. Therefore, the pleasant or unpleasantness of an art is dependent upon the creator, while the observer also has his own personal inclination.