Holy Bogusness

Well, it is– after all– Easter Week, and as surely as the spring flowers bloom at this time of the year, the exploitative, deceptive “religious documentaries” spring up on the History cable channels and “religious discoveries” dutifully appear on the covers of Time, Newsweek, and the US News & World Report.          

But of course the level of outrageous hucksterism has now begun to exceed the merely deceptive.  Thanks to computer-generated graphics and some charlatans and willing, stooge scholars who clamor to be on TV, these documentaries have succeeded in COMPLETELY IGNORING the archaeological consensus and in making fundamentalist hypotheses seem unarguably authentic through visual imagery.          

I mean, it’s absolutely outrageous what the History Channel, for instance, has done with its prime time spectacular “The Real Face of Jesus?” (naively shilled by Good Morning America and the Today Show).          

Examining the Shroud of Turin: The Real Face of Jesus follows a team of graphic experts as they use 3D technology to bring a holy relic known as the Shroud of Turin to life. Here, computer graphics artist Ray Downing consults with John Jackson of Colorado's Turin Shroud Center. (History Channel)


First of all, it is abundantly clear to all serious archaeologists that the Shroud of Turin is a 13th-14th-century forgery, part of the booming European medieval relics trade.  Only those who continue to be supported by the 21st-century pilgrimage-and-relics trade and those fundamentalists who believe that the resurrection of Jesus was accompanied by some kind of explosive nuclear emission that seared the linen will continue to believe unfailingly in its authenticity.          

Then you have the scientism.  In this documentary, you have a guiding “graphics expert” with an outrageous Donald Trump-style hairdo, who guides us through the steps whereby the image on the shroud is made to take on a 3D, photo-realistic quality through mathematical modeling and the extrapolation-by-software of facial pores, bloody wounds, and hair follicles. 

3D Rendering of the Image on the Shroud of Turin: Ray Downing and his associates used cutting-edge 3D software and tools to coax a 3D model out of a two-dimensional artifact. (History Channel)



My God, this is a dangerous delusion.  It’s a theological confabulation designed ONLY for profit by selling a miraculously life-like illusion to the Faithful.  It’s relic worship pure and simple.  High budget relic worship to be sure– much more expensive and technologically advanced than seeing an image of the Virgin Mary in the bark of a tree.   

This kind of high-tech antiquarian hokum just hammers another nail into the public understanding of what science and archaeology are all about. But of course belief in empirical evidence and confidence in human reason have already been quite thoroughly crucified in our tabloid TV society.

Abandoned Virtual Monuments as Heritage?

How much more Post-Modern can we get?

Cultural Heritage of Second Life Threatened by Destruction! Art Project appeals to UNESCO

After a five-month expedition through abandoned sectors of Second Life, a group of literary explorers has returned safely to First Life. On the-last-days-of-second-life.de they introduce i.e. the recently deleted island of the News-Agency Reuters. 


Mass Cyber DemonstrationFeb 18, 2010 – After a five-month expedition through abandoned sectors of Second Life, the group of literary explorers “The Last Days of Second Life” has returned safely to First Life. In roughly 30 individual reports, the explorers are describing how the early avatars might have lived in the now deserted zones. Their presentations include descriptions of prehistoric objects from the beta-phase of Second Life; they introduce islands that were completely forgotten (i.e. the recently deleted island of the First-Life-News-Agency Reuters) and point to antique objects that are acutely threatened with destruction… 

Read more here and see http://movement-for-account-corpses.de/

National Identity in an Age of Digital Reproduction

From an article in the Financial Times by Ben Hall (Dec 15, 2009):

Sarkozy offers funds to place France’s cultural heritage online

Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday earmarked €750m to digitise France’s cultural heritage and compete with Google’s controversial project to put millions of books online .

The digitisation scheme, which will cover French books, films and museum contents, is part of a €35bn ($51.26bn, £31.52bn) public investment programme intended to raise France’s growth rate by investing in research and technology.

The French president did not mention the US internet giant by name but alluded to it, saying “there was no question of allowing our heritage to leave” adding that it was a question of “national identity”.