19 May 2011

Landslides in art part 11: John K. Nakata

Posted by Dave Petley

This is part 11 of the occasional series on landslides in art.  Part 10 is here.

For a change, this time I thought I’d feature a photographic print.  The subject is a photograph by John K. Nakata entitled landslide.  The artist runs a photographic business in California that makes best use of the opportunities provided by the landscape of that part of the world.  Unfortunately, no description or notes are associated with the picture, which can be found (and purchased) from Barewalls:

This is a classic example of a sandpile landslide, but the picture actually illustrates a number of really interesting aspects of such landslides.  First, it is impossible to judge the scale – is this a metre or 30 metres long?  The problem with judging scale illustrates that in a granular material the features associated with such a process are essentially scale-invariant.  Second, even though sand is a granular material, the deposit has still developed clear discontinuities.  Third, it is quite easy to pick out a small, post-landslide failure on each side of the main scar, and the small deposit that this has created in each case.  Finally, the toe of the landslide on the left side has started to be sculpted, presumably by the wind.

Comments, and suggestions for further editions, welcome.