Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Geomorphically Incorrect Art #1.

I like art and fluvial geomorphology.  For years I've collected images of impossible, improbable, and curious representations of fluvial features in art.

I call them geomorphically incorrect.

This example is a stunning painting by Amy Chehore.  I love it.  It's clearly surreal, we don't expect realistic representation of landforms.

But it's fun to look at a work like this and ask "what's wrong with the geomorphology?"  I'm sure you can find a few things, from the boulder (assuming this is a stream and not a lake) on which the banjo player sits to the shape of the scarps behind her.

You could write a nice essay on how the landforms and fluvial features  in this painting are impossible or very unlikely (assuming they were formed on Earth, etc.) And also about why and how the artist chose to use those features, but I know nothing about that!

And it's great fun to look at lesser works meant to be representational and figure out whether they were painted from reality or made up.  I can do it almost instantly, maybe from years of experience, I'm not sure.  That's part of the mystery and fun.

Take this painting I bought on Ebay; it's on glass, from Asia, a mass-produced style commonly done in the 1960's.  What's wrong with it?

Is it possible to have twin waterfalls on both sides of a lake like this?  Why not? 

And this one (an excerpt from a larger drawing) is famous, from a 1970's rock album.  Of course those zig zag meanders are unlikely, but what else is wrong?


Joe said...

Are you going to tell us your answers, or just let us guess?

Garry Hayes said...

Impossible waterfalls? But what about these? No one would photoshop something like this, I am ... sure:


Garry Hayes said...

Oh, forgot to add, great post! There has been a fair amount of scholarly discussion about when geomorphically correct art began during the Renaissance....This is a book I want get some time: http://geologyinart.blogspot.com/2010/06/origins-of-geology-between-art-and.htmlto

Joe said...

yes - I too forgot to metion that I enjoyed the great post.

I saw another example today - this one somewhat ironic photoshop - of an underwater creek. See the 14th image down at http://www.dyscario.com/design/underwater-world-by-yang-yi.html

Until I saw that one, I thought that the images had been shot underwater.

Steve Gough said...

@Joe here are a few: In the Chehore painting, can't see any process that would leave successive sharp scarps like this on a hillside short of very rapid (with pauses for a little floodplain development) incision; but the "floodplains" aren't anywhere near level, so that's not possible. And they would (assuming this isn't on a planet with nonerodable soils and/or no rainfall) rapidly develop gullies and other features (though the figures hide the low spots where these would appear. And assuming the water is a river, I can see no way the deposition around the big rock could take that shape, and especially drop off so rapidly so the banjo player could dangle her feet in deep water.

Regarding the Led Zeppelin art; the river emerges from the castle with no floodplain, possible but not likely. What's clearly not possible is that the low point in the drawing appears to be to the left of the castle, so the stream isn't running in the deepest part of the valley. I could go on... :)