Bataille Looking

This essay resituates Georges BatailleÕs Lascaux, ou la naissance de lÕart in the context of archaeological investigations into the origins and the social dynamics of mark-marking. As opposed to other accounts of the book, ÒBataille LookingÓ is concerned specifically with the ways in which BatailleÕs argument and methodology reflect the conventions of the early twentieth-century discipline known as ÒprehistoryÓ while at the same time anticipating the insights of contemporary research on the peculiar conditions responsible for the emergence of ancient visual culture. BatailleÕs attention to the phenomenon of superimpositionÑthe layering of one image on top of anotherÑleads him to hypothesize what contemporary researchers are increasingly confirming, namely, that mark-making derives from the rhythmic repetition of gestural routines.