Not so long ago, probably thanks to the biggots' reaction to Darwin's theory, we were experting to find some evidence of the "missing link".
Such a belief was so strong that it issued a forgery: the Pildow man...
Since then and after Konrad Lorenz's comment: " we are looking for the missing link and I found it, it is Us" Paleoanthropology has progressed strongly and accurately.
What we see here today is just flabbergasting!
This travel back through time to meet our ancestors, not even knowing if we are direcly related, but after all we share fifty % of our DNA with bananas, is made possible through 3D rendered figures.
In other terms, sculpture.
Since forensic specialists have started reconstructing faces from skulls, the techniques have progressed a lot both in terms of precision and realism but clearly enough, this is not art per se but science.
Nevertheless what speaks to us all is not the scientific process but the expression we read on those faces as we are deeply accustomed to what remains purely cultural: aesthetics.
That brings us to the most amazing nineteenth century artist : Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (austrian sculptor 1770-1783) who dropped out of the baroque academism to enter a world of his own using his strong talent to represent humans a very different way.
No aesthetical intention in his work but the strong, anatomically perfect, representation of human faces as no one had never seen them.
His work is in fact quite close to paleoanthropological reconstructions of today and, to my concern stands as a perfect introduction to what could be realism today.
As realism in art has not much of an interest, more clearly no pertinency, forensic/ scientific reconstruction is a developing field.
If it all started with plasticine and elementary tools, today's 3D softwares are certainly a much accurate processing, starting with a 3D scan of the skull then constructing the volumes, adding colors, movements...
Then the true difficulty stands with the soft parts, age, wrinkles, hair, expression, and various "secondary" aspect which must be rendered according to scientific precision.
We actually don't know if such a dedicated software exists as they are not given public access but we would be strongly interested in whether gathering information about it (them?) or having one developped which would allow the creation of a worlwide online data bank.
Such a tool would not only benefit to all forensic research but would open widely the doors of the whole human past... Armand Dauré