The ‘Sleeping Lady Mountain’ is really a digital creation, not a drone photo
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The top of a mountain range, rocks perfectly peaking out of snow caps to form the shape of a woman in peaceful sleep. The would-be miracle mountain, said to be in Alaska, Tibet or even Mexico, and captured by drone footage, is actually a work of art by French artist Jean-Michel Bihorel, who makes three-dimensional digital creations.
This photo of a mountain range in the shape of a woman’s body has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Various captions accompanying the image purport that it was taken in Tibet, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan or Alaska.
Certain posts including the image have been shared over half a million times.
How beautiful is this, The Sleeping Lady Mountain, about 33 miles northwest of Anchorage Alaska, taken from a drone pic.twitter.com/GhJuobgfxS— MINISTER OF HIV (@niqita11) August 10, 2020
Many online users refer to the place as “Sleeping Lady Mountain,” and say that it is Mount Susitna in Alaska, located around 50km northwest of Anchorage and often referred to as Sleeping Lady, after a local legend. Others say it’s Mexican volcano Iztaccihuatl, which is also said to resemble a woman laying down when viewed from the east or west, and nicknamed “The Sleeping Woman”, after Aztec mythology.
But really, neither of these mountain ranges looks like this when viewed from above. You can do a reverse image search (click here to find out how), or take a look at the comments on many publications of the image, to find out that the Sleeping Lady Mountain is not a natural occurrence, but rather a digital creation. French artist Jean-Michel Bihorel published this digital sculpture, entitled “Winter Sleep”, on March 19, 2020 on his Instagram and Facebook pages.
There are also many other more detailed images of the sculpture on the artist’s website, as well as other digital art platforms such as Art Station. On his YouTube channel, a short video of “Winter Sleep” makes it look as if the image was captured by a drone, but indeed it’s completely digital.
‘In the end, the story piqued the curiosity of the public’
Specialising in digital artistic creations since 2016, Bihorel tries to make works that are as visually realistic as possible by working extensively with light, volume and medium. In a comment under one publication of “Winter Sleep” online, Bihorel adds that he created it from scratch, using a mix of “3D scans, hand sculpting and procedural terrain generation”.
Contacted by the FRANCE 24 Observers team, the artist explained that, a few years before making “Winter Sleep”, he created another image of a sleeping woman on the surface of Mars, to illustrate the metaphor of a “planet at rest”. The viral image of the mountaintops came from the same idea.
This snowy image carried the same message of a planet at rest, and was published right at the beginning of the first lockdown [in France], when a big portion of polluting activities were at a standstill. I hadn’t anticipated it, but I think that the image had resonated with these events and with people’s need to look inward for reassurance.
From this, people started to say that it was a mountain in Kazakhstan, then others picked it up and said it was a mountain in Mexico. Finally, the image was compared to a mountain in Alaska. Some TV channels and newspapers even reported it. There are still people on my own Instagram page who continue to point out potential coordinates of the supposed mountain’s location.
In the end, the story piqued the curiosity of the public and it helps to make people aware of this new artistic medium.
Two months ago, Bihorel announced on Facebook that he was selling limited edition prints of the artwork, after it had “travelled the internet and made quite a buzz, most of the time without mentioning that it was an artwork nor mentioning the name of the artist”. After “Winter Sleep”, Bihorel published another artwork featuring a human form in an invented natural environment: a woman’s shape formed out of a lava flow.