EAA exhibition: Reflexive Representations

Andrew Cochrane (Cardiff University) and Ian Russell (Trinity College, Dublin) are behind an exhibition that will be on show for the first time at the EAA Annual Meeting in Cracow next week.

The exhibition is entitled Reflexive Representations: The Partibility of Archaeology. Introducing an artistic exploration of archaeological theory.

The pieces in this exhibition seek to contest traditional mechanisms for representation and spectatorship by questioning the status that visual images occupy in archaeological discourse. Photomosaics of iconic archaeologists and archaeological objects are constructed through the manufacture of archives and archaeological records of public images available over internet search engines. This digital ‘excavation’ of what is traditionally an unarchived public space marks the beginnings of a digital archaeological practice.


By juxtaposing the figures of archaeologists or archaeological artefacts with a collage of public images, the pieces reveal the manufacture of representations of archaeological identities (of archaeologists) and that of the artefacts and monuments with which they work. In addition, through the use of the world wide web and freeware, they also challenge the role that digital media are playing in the fabrication of collective archaeological visual memory, interpretation, and mediated information.

During digital ‘excavation’ records are kept of the location, context, and dimensions of each available image in order to produce an ‘archaeological record’ detailing the point in time when the search occurred. This seeks to enhance archaeological practice to confront a world which is rapidly becoming saturated by fluid and transient systems of information. In these works, Google Image searches are utilised to amass libraries of images by employing generalised search terms with no artistic intervention. These libraries are then fed through Easy Mosaic 2005 v1.2 to produce a pixel system which manufactures the original images of archaeologists and objects.

Andrew Cochrane and Ian Russell’s view of Julian Thomas:

In this piece, we explore the titling of Professor Thomas’ two recent archaeological theory texts, Time, Culture and Identity (1996) and Archaeology and Modernity (2004). The image is composed of a collage of 3,820 ‘cell-images’ resulting from unfiltered searches for the words ‘Time’, ‘Culture’, ‘Identity’, ‘modernity’ and ‘archaeology’ through the Google ‘Image Search Engine’.

Julian Thomas

Detail of Julian:
Thomas closeup

This exhibition is composed of between three to five 1m x 1.5m mounted images with accompanying titles cards and a separate poster introducing the exhibition.

Confirmed exhibitions include:

  • EAA 2006. 19th – 24th September. IAE, Cracow, Poland
  • CHAT 2006. 10th – 12th November. Bristol University
  • TAG 2006. 15th – 17th December. University of Exeter
  • Resisting Archaeology 2007. 17th -20th May. Uppsala University, Sweden
  • EAA conference attendees: tell us what you thought about this project!

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