I see faces in stones…

Arrival face at Lake Powell

Simulacra ~ Pareidolia ~ Apophenia 

Matrixing ~ Mimetoliths

These ornate words all refer to the phenomena of seeing in an object a projection of your imagination.  A tendency to see meaningful patterns within random data.  The ability to look at a rockface or at a stone in the road, at a cloud or deeply into an ice puddle, and seeing in it the image of a face.  Sometimes the image appears in the shape of an animal or that of a heart.

Perhaps an Eagle or a Narwhal is perceived.


The projecting imagination is endless,  with faces seeming to be the most commonly enticing.  At least for me.

Often they are subtle and silent…

Whispering Faces
Travelling Heads
“Livingstone” Nez

Sometimes they are loud.


It began several years ago as I spent a week floating on a boat in the Utahan arid red landscape.  The towering rockfaces became just that,  faces in rock.  Apparitions emerging and presenting themselves as characters,  giving the otherwise inscrutable stone a personality.


At first it occurred sporadically,  a silhouette in the morning,  a lunchtime profile.

A giant wizard with a flowing beard at sunset.

Pensive Wizard

And then it ramped up.

I had little to do on the boat but glance at the odd book,  swim,  gaze at the cocooning cliffs all day and into the shadowy moonlight.

Night Watchman

And as I gave these faces more attention they rapidly increased in frequency.

Pharaoh wearing the Red Crown

Within a few days I was seeing a dozen characters an hour.  A new one every five minutes and sometimes several all at once.  In groups.  As if they were forever captured in emergency committee meetings lasting for decades or centuries until the rock itself,  tired of their seriousness,  eroded their silent congress into the muting waters below.

Silent Congress
Congress ~detail~

Eventually, moved by their abiding existence and their eloquent silence, they persuaded me to photograph their watchful countenances.  And as I did, so I began to imagine them as a conscious display emanating from the earth itself, reaching out to this meddling and too often oblivious ape.

Once you see these two you can’t unsee them.

Quiet Affection

The earth seemed to be showing me its sentience in a pictorial language I could no longer ignore.

I called her Moon Woman
Moon Woman ~ shadowed far across the canyon watches over Ancient Dwellings

One mimicked my expression behind my back.

Cheeky Fellow
Un Fantasma e Tanti Sorrisi

Coming soon: Rabble in the rubble of my driveway…