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Zeit bites: Facial recognition

Facial recognition

An exhibit about seeing things that aren’t there

Time to enrich your word power: Pareidolia is a term for the way our brains grope for recognizable patterns in fields of visual information — the way you might see human-like features in the grill of a car, or a saint in the burn marks on your toast.

Photographer Checko Salgado’s show Valley of Faces (June 8 to July 13, Winchester Cultural Center) pairs this phenomenon with another of his longtime interests, Nevada’s outdoors, and gives it a twist: He’ll present 11 local artists — Matt Couper, Bekah Just, Sean Slattery among them — with photos of enigmatic rock formations in the Basin & Range National Monument. Working on clear acetate overlays, the artists will tease out images they see within the rocks. Pareidolia in action. Those works will be printed out on photo paper and shown beside the photos that inspired them.

The title, Valley of Faces, comes from Salgado’s experiences in the narrow canyons within Basin & Range. “I started noticing the pareidolia in these rocks, from faces of various sizes, life-size to well over 20 feet high, and a variety of oddly shaped animals,” he says. It stuck with him forcefully. “Later on, when the roads and key spots were being named for the Bureau of Land Management map, I asked if we could name this area Valley of Faces.” This, he adds, is his fifth exhibit dealing with Basin & Range — an area given new urgency by the Trump administration’s move to rethink its national monument status.

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The opening reception for Valley of Faces will be 5:30p, June 16.

Scott Dickensheets is a Las Vegas writer and editor whose trenchant observations about local culture have graced the pages of publications nationwide.