plant eater, weighed in at 100 tons, with 130-140 feet in length (40-42
meters) and dates back some 100 million years ago. A spate of mysterious
monster finds has placed Argentina on the paleontology map in recent
years. Fossilized discoveries over the past decade include Giganotosaurus,
the largest dinosaur carnivore; Argentinosaurus, the largest herbivore;
and other bones that suggest an even longer species. Thousands of eggs
dating back 80 million years litter the land, a discovery that includes
the first known impressions of dinosaur embryo skins. "We already
recorded that this egg fossil horizon extends more than 20 kilometers.
That is the largest dinosaur-nesting site in the world," said Coria,
a native Patagonian and paleontologist at the Carmen Funes Museum.
dinosaur heritage of Argentina may be richer than that of the United
States and Canada combined. But natural history programs in the south
lack the financial power of their counterparts in the north. Some Argentinean
museums must leave dinosaur bones outside and behind their buildings,
lacking the money to display them.
(Argentineans) have the bones, the Americans have the money," Flessa
(former president of the Paleontology Society) said.
history museums in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Alberta, Canada,
have sponsored expeditions throughout Argentina, working together with
institutions in Buenos Aires and Patagonia.
Argentinean law forbids the export of dinosaur fossils, the display
uses bone replicas. Flessa said the lack of original parts hardly matters.
techniques for making replicas of fossil bones are so good that it almost
doesn't matter where the originals are any more," he said. "I
don't think that science is hindered by the fact that the Argentinean
government won't let dinosaurs outside the country."
Atlanta museum boasts the first complete display outside of Argentina
of a Giganotosaurus, which in the 1990s dethroned T. Rex as the largest
known land carnivore.
Train of Dinosaur Productions has lent his skill to reproduce copies
of the Argentina dinosaur bones for Fernbank. The dinosaur reconstruction
specialist has already produced some impressive works.
helped create a $20 million Triceratops for the Jurassic Park display
at the new Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.
walks, pees, farts, and breathes. People think it's a real animal,"
The fossil bones have been reproduced in fiberglass and suspended on
an iron frame. The finished skeleton weighs several tons.
began in a disaster, by casting the largest vertebrae of Argentinousaurus,"
Lessem (head of the project to reconstruct the two skeletons at the
Fernbank Museum in Altanta, Georgia) said. "The first giant (plastic)
bone arrived on Halloween 1998 at Logan Airport in my home town of Boston.
It had been smashed to pieces by customs agents who thought it was a
modern sculpture possibly containing hidden drugs."
10 per cent of the Argentinosaurus' remains were uncovered from a pebbled-filled
block of sandstone. Among them, however, was a piece of the largest
backbone ever found a 1.6 meter high and wide vertebrae which
weighs 20 tons. In all, paleontologists recovered a dozen backbone vertebrae,
a few limb bones and part of the hips from this one dinosaur.
obvious conclusion to this story is that in Argentina where the real
bones remain, there was nothing much to be seen much to the dismay of
my 6 year old child who was disappointed not to find the Argentionosaurus
for which he had traveled half way across the world, and in Atlanta
where they only have an animated replica, a curious public does find
the inspiration to satisfy their imagination, by looking at a fiberglass
representation that "walks, pees, farts and breathes".
The Victoria and Albert Museum
you enter the hall of the "fakes" at the Victoria and Albert
Museum in London, one is confronted not only with Michael Angelo's
masterpieces, among many others, but with the following wall label:
Room 46 Fakes and Forgeries
In the 19th century when the Museum was acquiring many of its
Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces, it was also purchasing
copies, fakes and forgeries in imitation of them. A selection
is shown in the central gallery, displayed in cases if about 1870
in a gallery of 1873, redecorated in its original colors.
objects on display range from straightforward "modern"
copies of 16th century pieces, acquired by the Museum purposely
as copies, and examples that were deliberately made to deceive
and evidently did so. Between these two extremes lie works that
were produced as modern pastiches of earlier styles some
of which were sold by later owners as authentic examples
and objects that are in part of early data but which have been
adapted, redecorated or otherwise "improved".
In some cases scientific investigations of materials and techniques
or historical and documentary evidence have revealed that the
object is not authentic. In other cases uncertainty remains and
a few such examples are included here. Often, however, both the
choice of the sources used by the faker and the intrusion of stylistic
features of his own period show a work to be of later data. Like
the casts in the courts on either side, the objects shown here
reflect the taste of the 19th century, offering us a Victorian
vision of the middle Ages and the Renaissance.
can glean from this information that reproductions have always been
part and parcel of Museums, that the issues regarding a Dinosaur are
not that separate and distant from having the statue of David before
our very eyes. During the modern era when quality color reproduction
in a printed medium became off age, the reproduction of paintings became
how most of the world stood to gain access to the works that remained
beyond our immediate reach.
became a medium of choice to have the work of photographers become known
around the world. It was 30 years before I ever got to see an original
print by Henri-Cartier Bresson. But then wasn't the "original"
print, also a reproduction? Didn't we always call such prints original-reproductions?
the obvious issues of representation that the previous little story
enthralls, let us explore now the picture on the cover at ZoneZero.
It was taken with a small digital camera (Epson 3000z) set at its widest
angle, however, the wide angle lens distorted the angles towards the
back of the room, giving it the effect of almost falling over towards
the left as can be seen in the image below. When I took the picture,
I was careful to align at least one area parallel to the sides of the
image ( the cabinet windows), I settled on the left side and let the
rest fall wherever it might, knowing that I could fix it later on.
picture in pre-digital times would have required a view camera to correct
such a distortion. Today we have the benefit of being able to put the
image back to the correct angle such as it was in reality, but we do
it using a computer. The benefits are obvious, greater ease of operation
with less stuff to carry around and a more modest camera and lens can
be used. The results?, you judge yourself. (Click
here to bring up the new image so you can compare). Those who have
a long history and attachment to a view camera will find such a solution
As I see
it, we have been caught in a web of our own making, discussing endlessly
the issues of representation. On the one hand are all the debates around
the veracity of the image for the sake of factual representation, crisscrossed
by all the emotional and moral considerations related to being or not,
deliberately mislead in what we think we are looking at.
other are all the art market issues related to the original as a way
of placing value on objects and their rarity. If we all own the same
identical piece, what is to give it a significant variance and therefore
premium? if at all. My earliest now fading digital prints, which no
one wanted because they were fading due to the inherent limitations
of the prevailing inks at the time, have now acquired the distinction
of being "vintage" prints, even though faded. What originally
was a defect became over time a source to differentiate the work from
more recent and better reproductions. Such are the workings of the art
of representation with respect to digital photographs have also been
beset with misunderstandings borne out of misinformation. The idea that
all digital pictures have to be altered is to not understand the medium
at all. The notion that all alterations have to be seen alike is again
a lack of understanding that not all alterations are born the same.
argue that the original matters only when certain conditions are met.
It matters to the art market for reasons explained earlier, it matters
to someone who is using the original as proof of something; it does
not matter, however, when the information derived from the work is understood
for it's subjective nature, or for the purpose of educating, or
us your points of view in the forums, tell us how you see these matters
and how our world is being transformed in it's formal representation.
Pedro Meyer's photographs are found in the collections of more than 40 major museums throughout the world. He's also authored several books, including Los Cohetes Duraron Todo el Dia; Tempii di America; and Espejo de Espinas. His column appears each month in Camera Works.