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This thesis proposes a fresh engagement with the idea of the archaic as a means to recover and replenish some of the lost vitality suffered during what William Barrett characterized the modern period as “the gigantic externalization of life.” An introductory essay examines how the related ideas of the archaic, the primal, and the prehistoric have at key moments provided a source of creative energy for the arts of the last century. Collections of found material, and several photographic studies document the city of Niagara Falls—icon of American pop culture and faded relic of romanticism. The photographs present an alternative to the world of the touristic snapshot, and address the questions: In the age of simulation how do we know what is real anymore? Can we learn to see with archaic eyes?