Although we have read some of the latest academic research, we are not paleontologists nor geneticist and not qualified to write about the complexities of human evolution – whether about our genetic inheritance, migrations routes, interbreeding sites, timelines and dates, or causes of extinction (see Yirka 2015, Paabo 2013, Papagianni and Morse 2013, Stringer 2012, Bower 2012 for various theories). Ultimately this is an art project, not a science one – albeit one informed and influenced by various scientific issues, and research-based.
Bushe and Cannizzo want to tell a story about a meeting between modern humans and Neanderthals – an imaginary tale created through drawings and objects. For example, a possible story might have three scenes
A day 30,000 years ago – the last day of the last Neanderthal and speculations about what caused her or his death, based on the current scientific literature about the extinction of the Neanderthals including climate and environmental change, the presence or absence of dogs and warm parka-like garments, and human beings armed with superior weapons.
The present Day- this Neanderthal is cloned from ancient DNA and becomes the object of intense and secret scientific evaluation but escapes into the wider world outside of the laboratory and meets modern humans who react in a variety of positive and negative ways to this ‘strange’ person. Interbreeding between a female Neanderthal and a modern male or a male Neanderthal and a modern female produces a child with characteristics of both ancient and modern humans.
The year 2199 – the future when the world is full of neo- Neanderthals –that is peopled by the descendants of the the cloned Neanderthal and a modern human in the past. This imagined world can be presented in contrast to a 1950s prediction of what life on earth might be like in the year 2199.
Such a narrative would touch on science fiction – where so often the moral and ethical struggles between dystopias and utopias are played out to the gallery – and the creation of fantastic worlds where through art forms the themes of cultural and physical similarities and differences, migration and the first encounters between strangers could be explored. In doing so, it would become clear these are indeed ancient human patterns with a myriad of possible outcomes.