Gold Butte: The Emerging Falling Man Narrative

Falling Man is part of the Whitney-Hartman area of Gold Butte, a rugged, beautiful region, south of Mesquite, NV. Falling Man is certainly one of the more well-known sites in the Southern Nevada area. That said, there are many  wonderful panels surrounding it. The story generally told of the glyph is that it depicts the fall of man who had outraged his clan. However as the light plays through the approach alcove and across the glyph itself, as captured in the following photos, the story may be much more dynamic than that.

The Falling Man Approaches

For a substantial period of time around the Equinox, the sun pierces through a narrow alcove, painting the face of a sheltering cliff opposite. Crawling through the brightly sun-colored alcove, on the cliff face below is one lone glyph. As the sun sets, the intense sunlight precisely paints the figure, explaining why it is carved the way it is, until the sun sets and the light becomes less warm, less intense, and finally fades to oblivion for the night. Nearest facilities are in Mesquite, NV.

The Falling Man Progression

In this sequence of photos, the light paints the body gradually. The sequence begins with the glyph just beginning to feel light of the setting sun. The sunlight rather suddenly touches the man’s left arm and the top of his head with a halo effect. The  sunlight progresses to outline right arm and left shoulder. Sunlight then moves to flesh out his right bicep. (Note that as the light progresses the glyph has no correspondingly pronounced left bicep.)

As his body begins to flesh out a Nike-style “Swoosh” develops as well. Note how his legs are etched on either side of a small rise.  In time the left leg is fully outlined, and Swoosh has developed.

With the maximum outline of about half the right leg and the fullest extension of the length of Swoosh, the event is beginning to reach a climax. The rock becomes warmer in color and the Swoosh more pronounced, but the play across the Falling Man’s body begins to recede: the character of the sunlight begins to change. It is noticeably not as intense.

In the final shots, the character of sunlight distinctly changes and for the balance of these slides, our sunlight weakens and fades away.

Previous Niche       Next Niche