Santa Monica Mountain Lion

Description

This photograph, posted on the National Park Service instagram feed in February 2018, depicts the face of a mountain lion at a perhaps uncomfortably close proximity to the picture plane. The lion’s broad forehead fills the top of the square frame, narrowing downward to create a v-shape with its pointed muzzle. No expression is apparent given the calm eyes and closed mouth, resulting in a sense of stillness, or even death. The mountain lion seems unnaturally front-lit, potentially as the result of a camera flash. Behind the foreground of the face, the image recedes quickly into the unfocused and indistinct background of the mountain lion’s body.
While the caption explicitly locates the mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, this image omits aspects of place, be it natural or built. This photograph demontrates an emphasis on the animal itself, rather than the environment within which it exists. Indeed, without the context of the caption, it is not only impossible to know that this was taken in the Santa Monica Mountains but impossible to know anything about the place it was taken at all. As a result, the face of the mountain lion becomes symbolic of nature rather than the landscape it exists within.

MetaData

Dublin Core

Title

Santa Monica Mountain Lion

Subject

Santa Monica Mountains, photograph, social media, charismatic megafauna

Description

This photograph, posted on the National Park Service instagram feed in February 2018, depicts the face of a mountain lion at a perhaps uncomfortably close proximity to the picture plane. The lion’s broad forehead fills the top of the square frame, narrowing downward to create a v-shape with its pointed muzzle. No expression is apparent given the calm eyes and closed mouth, resulting in a sense of stillness, or even death. The mountain lion seems unnaturally front-lit, potentially as the result of a camera flash. Behind the foreground of the face, the image recedes quickly into the unfocused and indistinct background of the mountain lion’s body.
While the caption explicitly locates the mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, this image omits aspects of place, be it natural or built. This photograph demontrates an emphasis on the animal itself, rather than the environment within which it exists. Indeed, without the context of the caption, it is not only impossible to know that this was taken in the Santa Monica Mountains but impossible to know anything about the place it was taken at all. As a result, the face of the mountain lion becomes symbolic of nature rather than the landscape it exists within.

Creator

National Park Service (NPS)

Source

National Park Service Instagram

Publisher

National Park Service

Date

2018

Contributor

Sarah Ludwin-Peery

Rights

Public domain

Relation

Photographs

Format

N/A

Language

En-US

Type

Photograph

Coverage

Date Created

February 22, 2018

Access Rights

Public domain

Medium

Digital photograph

Bibliographic Citation

https://www.instagram.com/p/Be4C6pegUOJ/?hl=en&taken-by=nationalparkservice

Spatial Coverage

Santa Monica Mountains

Temporal Coverage

Contemporary, 21st Century

Audience

General audience

Citation

National Park Service (NPS), “Santa Monica Mountain Lion,” Park Culture, accessed March 5, 2021, http://parkculture.org/items/show/161.

Collection

Geolocation