Thomas Hirschhorn, Cavemanman, 2002, wood, cardboard, tape, aluminum foil, books, posters, monitors, video documentation of Lascaux II caves, dolls, aluminum cans, shelves, fluorescent lights. Installation view, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2008. From the 55th Carnegie International. Photo: Tom Little.

IN 2011, French artist Dove Allouche suspended a camera at the end of a rope and lowered it into the crater of Mount Vesuvius, blindly capturing a photograph of this monument of ancient, violent rupture. He hasn’t touched a camera since. Instead, as if inspired to seek ever more elemental encounters with the natural world, he has spent the past few years metonymically capturing images of mineral formations via a series of inventive photographic procedures—for instance, placing emulsion-coated glass plates in petrifying caves (that is, caves where objects calcify very rapidly), generating ambrotypes that gradually developed over the course of months. “Pétrographie” (Petrography), 2014–15, he used thin cross sections of a stalagmite as negatives. The intricate striations are records of a process of slow accretion that began many millennia ago, deep in the prehistoric past.

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