Showing posts from December, 2016

Visibility analysis, release 0.5.4: modelling the horizon

Visibility analysis plugin for QGIS is prospering quite well. As of writing, it counts some 20 000 downloads and a bunch of « votes », which means that at least several thousand people are using it. (Although, it does feel uncomfortable knowing that any potential error would risk a blame-storm ….)

The new release brings a more polished algorithm and two options for horizon analysis. Horizon detection was, and still remains, rather problematic. On the conceptual level, the skyline has to be understood in terms of perception and not as a fixed terrain parameter. Consider the image below: there are many skylines in the mountainous landscape, progressively dissolving into the atmosphere. The most distant skyline might not even be visible at all, even if it would be rendered as “true horizon” by GIS. Sometimes we may be able to see a chain of mountains at distances above 100 or 200 km, but such views demand exceptional weather conditions. A book was recently published by Will…

Pebbles, faces and landscapes: the archaeology of simulacra

Several weeks ago I stumbled upon an amusing article on a museum displaying pebbles and rocks resembling human faces, situated in Chichibu, Japan. The stones are called jinmenseki (珍石) and one should be able to recognise human faces in their naturally occurring dents and holes. The founder of the museum, Shozo Hayama, spent some 50 years collecting these specimens, the only criterion being that human hand did not interfere with the work of nature. There are some 1700 rocks on display, carefully arranged in museum vitrines and sometimes labelled with suggestive interpretations: Elvis Presley, Gorbachev or Donkey Kong. More on the museum can be found in articles listed below.

The word on Chichubu pebble museum spread over the internet through oddities columns, together with museums of torture, toilets, bad art, broken relationships etc. I find that the pebble museum (or Chinsekikan in Japanese, which means “the hall of curious rocks”) open some curious questions for landsc…