Thursday, March 8, 2012

Simon Beck's Racquet Racket?

Hey, I'm not out to get this guy, 'Simon Beck',  or even disprove his assertions, but I do require some 'simple proof' in order to believe his extraordinary snowshoeing claims.

However, this possible attempt at subterfuge is urging me to yodel "charlatan-esque melodies!" from the icy top of the Matterhorn, to the cartoon peak of the Schmatterhorn. How many thousand 'Kronkites' is 'Simon Beck' getting to re-trace a snowed over 'snow circle' at a posh ski resort in France?

One of the values first imparted to me as a child is how "two wrongs don't make a right" yet fully knowing this, I've still decided to don my 'skeptics hat', and temporarily indulge my Alter-Ego , in this not so odd case of 'role reversal'. 

Since I usually give more credence to less than popular beliefs and claims (often leaving me isolated and shivering alone on the other side of societies 'fence of respectability'), holding these relatively extremist viewpoints keeps me at least one step removed from the balsamic ghettos of those deeply entrenched within the 'Two Cheek Kiss Crowd'.

The Agony of de Feet
What an odd sensation it is though, pretending to be a skeptic, and how very exhilarating too! I imagine this must be a similar sensation experienced by a Crossdresser while putting on a brand new pair of shiny red pumps, or maybe it's even comparable to the thrill a blossoming young lesbian might feel whilst fastening on her very first...ahem, 'appendage'?

Nevertheless, I like these new skeptical sensations, yes sir indeed ...oh the power, oh the respect!!

Seriously though, I want to look a little closer at Mr.Simon Beck's claim he's created massive and complex 'snow art' formations near Les Arcs 2000 ski resort in the French Alps, and try to determine whether or not he's the 'real deal' or just another case of 'Doug and Dave' 2.0

The Plot Thickens!
1: Look clearly at this first image, which is of a very detailed and highly complex snow formation of unknown origin. At this point, there is not yet an attempt to direct ones attention to his Facebook page by virtue of the untouched and pristine snow on the slope-face to the right; it also looks like someone has cut across the formation from the above slope to take a peek.

2: Looking at the second photo (below), it has now become a completed design, taken under different lighting conditions of course, while proudly displaying a plug for his Facebook page. (in the shadow on the slope to the right)

3: Looking at the third image, taken from Tim Wilson's Mad Dog Ski article Snow art in Les Arcs, we can clearly see a person tracing over the old design after it had been blanketed by a snowfall.  It appears that someone (perhaps Simon Beck?) has pounced on the chance to do a little 'damage control', and with it, a wonderful photo opportunity. You'll also notice, if you look closely, that there is a very pretty pattern in the snow right next to the circular one, but if you follow the timeline, the whole thing just doesn't add up. This third photo, depicts the Facebook plug and faint shadows underneath the blanketed snow; it clearly doesn't precede the first two, as we're expected to believe.

Who is This Mystery Man?
I suspect, as I mentioned in my previous post Yellow Snow Job (or 'Taking The Piss'!), that Mr.Beck had no more a hand (or foot) in creating these formations than the 'Travelocity Garden Gnome ' had in creating either The Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore or The Great Wall of China!

What we see on his 'snow art' Facebook page, are pictures of 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck' striking his mandatory half-frozen ex-pat pose (a veritable UK Ötzi'), and with it, an impressive collection of photographs showing his 'art' during different stages of it's development, BUT not in any one image do we ever see a close-up of 'Simon Beck' actually making his 'snow art'.

Adding to this mystery, these portrait photographs below (supposedly of a British man named 'Simon Beck'), do not even remotely resemble what I would consider to be an Englishman.  Being somewhat familiar with the UK and France, I can easily say this man looks to have french or even german phenotypical characteristics, rather than english ones. "Hold the scones luv... I reckon this man's probably a continental!"

In several images we see him high atop a cliff or slope posing for a choice 'photo-op', yet Simon says: "The main reason for making them (snow circles) was because I can no longer run properly due to problems with my feet, so plodding about on level snow is the least painful way of getting exercise" 
"Problems with your feet?" "Level snow?" Many of his alleged formations taper up steep inclines, so what in the heck is he doing scaling these slopes to complete 'his designs'...or posing for problematic 'photo-ops' for that matter?  Our 'intrepid invalid' is covering half the Savoie region with snowshoeing  'Savoie-faire'!

Unfinished Business
On his Facebook page Simon says: "I was so disappointed conditions didn't allow me to complete this one"  
Why? the weather looks pretty damn good to me!  Since he claims his designs can take anywhere between five hours to a few days to create, this nearly completed design appears to be holding up quite well under otherwise excellent winter conditions.

Trying to provide us with yet another narrative for his 'unfinished formation', Simon says: "Head Pisteur agreed to divert the black poles to mark the piste have been installed beyond design, but the message didn't get through to the guy driving the dameuse, who drove along the traditional alignment where the skiers can be seen skiing through the design" 

It's interesting how bad weather (or bad communication skills) forced him to 'give up' on this formation when the picture clearly reveals good weather conditions. He then manages to snap a shot of his creation while allowing absentminded skiers, and before that, a guy driving the dameuse, to spoil his magnum-opus.

What also doesn't make sense is how this guy has just appeared on the 'scene' so suddenly, out of virtually nowhere, at a very ripe-young age, with no precedent of ever having produced complex snow patterns. Every internet article I've read about this guy seems to be a mere rehashing of the other, yet nobody appears to have ever actually even met the guy, basing their artistic praise solely on images and claims posted on his Facebook and Yahoo Groups pages, or the multitude of other chimera like inter-web articles online.

So why would anyone want to 'hoax' something like this, or even bother to make a false claim? A fair question!  The answer to this question is limited simply by the confines of one's imagination (and I won't even DARE mention the 'A' or 'C' words!). Anyway, the 'burden of proof' doesn't require me to speculate on his motivations, the challenge really, is for Mr.Beck to prove his claim true!

Personally, I'm not a fan of the 'Simon Beck theory', it's kind of a 'poison poisson', a 'crappy carp' mixed into a bowl of 'mealy Müesli '!  Given the similarity to the crop circle phenomenon, in particular the '3D Plus' design shown below (which is a virtual copy of the UK crop circle to it's right), these designs indicate to me they are the work of a similarly advanced yet stealthy intelligence.

So the challenge to 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck' remains: "Where's the Boeuf-Fondu?"   All he needs to do is provide us with several photos of him working on an equally intricate 'snow art' piece at different stages of it's development, including close-ups, and distance shots… or even better, a time-lapse video!

He could even post some online tutorials, or sell some 'How-To DVD's' on!   Living in a snowy climate, perhaps I too would like to learn how to master his unique technique for making 'snow art'?

A simpler possibility would be to have him post his next 'snow art' design on his Facebook or Yahoo Groups pages a week or so in advance of his next creation, that way, any interested parties could sit back with a big steamy cup of Suchard Chocolate and watch Mr.Beck do his 'thang'!   Simple enough right...or maybe it's supposed to remain a secret?

Magic Mushrooms
A path to higher consciousness?
This 'Space Invader' design is probably my favourite, of which Simon says: "OK those are supposed to be magic mushrooms, would anyone with expert knowledge on the subject like to comment on their accuracy?"

Comment: I find it unlikely that someone would go to the effort of stomping out a detailed design of the Anamita Muscaria mushroom without first knowing what it is he's actually designing.

Cubes and Flakes
Even his 'snow flake cube design' (below-middle) is a recreation of another formation (below-left) posted to his site in September. The only difference here is September's post runs into the side of a mountain!  Why would an 'Artist' be so meticulous in all his methods, yet be unable to scale then centre his formation properly, and running it instead, into the broad side of a mountain?  On this one, he wasn't even close... I guess it must be another side-effect of those damn mushrooms?

Shovelling it!
One crudely executed formation is an obvious hoax (below) It's a design made on a frozen lake depicting an interlocking 'Star of David' pattern, which in turn forms an even bigger 'Star'. The only problem with this formation is: not only is it poorly crafted, in comparison to the others (he claims to have used a shovel), it's also 'off-centre' and precedes to run into the banks of the lake at the very top (and with room to spare at the opposite end). I imagine it was probably done AFTER ingesting copious amounts of that dreaded and aforementioned alpine fungus? 

Shovelling it indeed, a nice try though!

Simon says: "Would have been more intelligent to start in the centre of the lake!" 

No, really? I find that more than an understatement for such an otherwise meticulous artist.  Mind you, had he started in the middle of the lake, the formation would have been WAY OFF, simply because there's no detail to work with at the centre of this piece.  Even if he had started in the centre, he would have then ruined it by having to track across the fresh snow in order to work the design around the perimeter. "Simon, you got some 'splaining to do!" 

Only Mr.Beck, or those who've actually ever met him, know whether or not he's being truthful in his claims, or whether he's just shovelling us another snow job!

So Therefore...
My purpose for writing this post was to point out how we must at times take the simple word of others at face value, in order to function properly in the world, otherwise we can waste our valuable energy, like I've just done, overturning every suspicious stone in search of the truth behind extraordinary claims, life's little mysteries, or even the 'snow art' of 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck'

We must ultimately trust our gut, which is an intuitive understanding based on the vast amount of information gathered and processed by our subconscious mind, which allows us to 'feel' the authenticity, or inauthenticity, of any personal, collective, or institutional claim.

OK, I'm through now, it's time for me to 'get a life', kiss a woman, or watch the ballgame. Hey, maybe I'll even listen to my gut and go grab me a case of Budweiser beer, and a big blue bucket of battered Buffalo wings!

Dirty CT   March 2012

Piker's Peak
Starring Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam


  1. Upon further review, and despite it's relative crudeness, the 'Star of David' design is still quite clever (with it's 'holographic universe' theme).
    Six stars forming a 'larger star', combined with six more 'larger stars' forming an even larger one. Certainly any intelligence capable of creating a highly sophisticated pattern would also have the ability to make a sloppier one too if they so desired, and not the other way around.

    I don't accept Simon Beck's "Would have been more intelligent to start in the centre" as a legitimate excuse for his incompetence… unless of course he's just playing with us? Anybody who would have wanted to centre this piece need only begin at either the lower or upper tip to do so.

    The designer(s) of these formations are communicating an ironic playfulness by intentionally running their meticulous formations up and into the slopes of the mountain. The fact that many of the formations do this tells us it was done intentionally, and not through absentmindedness.

  2. QUOTE Even if he had started in the centre, he would have then ruined it by having to track across the fresh snow in order to work the design around the perimeter UNQUOTE

    The above is the main reason why snow art is a lot harder than other forms of land art, the "shovel art" is the only one of its kind that i have done (Jim denevan did a much bigger one on Baikal) and uniquely it was possible to walk on the snow without leaving trace

    Whether you believe me or not it up to you but I have been witnessed by thousands of skiers not to menetion people who work the lifts who see the designs progressing through the day!

    Simon, snow artist

  3. Simon, you shouldn't debase yourself by offering this fool explanations or credentials. Just leave him to wallow in his sarcasm and ignorance. I often have people look at my beach calligraphy and dismiss it as done in Photoshop and it leaves me in two minds. I can easily prove to them that it's for real, done by eye and by hand, but then do I want them to be impressed or to have an aesthetic experience? I have doubts, but I'm pretty sure the latter is one step too far for some people.

    When I first saw your work online, the visual cues to the authenticity of it were obvious to me, even at low resolution, and maybe that's why I was free to just enjoy the work. You could try to educate his eye in the hope of awakening an aesthetic sense but is it worth it in this case? This guy probably lives a virtual life and could never understand real work done with real skill in the real world. Besides, such blindness to the visual cues as had by this guy would, in a more virtuous person, lead to diffidence, and diffidence and ignorance you can work with, but here we have arrogance and ignorance parading as scepticism. I reckon it would be pearls-before-swine, and my commenting here is likely to be a case of "Rebuke a fool ..."

  4. I both of us have wasted more time than this deserves

  5. EFTA Damage Control Unit XB-17:
    It's been well over one month now since this post was published, and although the writer has moved on to tackle other topics of interest, we don't mind revisiting it for the benefit of clarifying any confusion among individuals who've either divided attentions or an inability to understand the author's use of subtext, and as a result, have failed to grasp the purpose of this post.

    Due to this misunderstanding by the person(s) above and the pejorative nature of the comments, EFTA Damage Control Unit XB-17's function is to set the record straight.

    In lieu of the fact that these wonderful snow designs bear a striking resemblance to the 'crop circle' phenomenon seen annually in the UK, the intention when writing this piece was to simply parody and lampoon modern day 'Scepticism', in all it's impossibly analytical and depressingly dysfunctional glory, by 'turning the tables', so to speak.

    The author saw 'Simon Beck's snow circles' as the perfect muse to accomplish this, and we assure our reader(s) this blogpost was never meant to be taken as an insult or sincere challenge to the creator(s) of these magnificent formations in any way.

    This post, 'Simon Beck's Racquet Racket?', is padded with enough cartoonish comments, in combination with an absurdity of links, to convey to the reader(s) the sentiment that the author's tongue was at all times planted firmly in cheek. In many of his other posts, he (the author) frequently takes this angle of approach, as it is his preferred method of written communication.

    Thank you, and happy commenting!

  6. Well, duhhu! 'Obviously' my own comment was just a 'parody' of a response by some illiterate idiot who is who's never seen parody. Surely the heavily laid-on sincerity and righteous indignation were clues enough? Or was it just sarcasm? Or is this sarcasm? What's the difference, I wonder?

    (Better luck next time. Parody is harder to pull off than any other form of humour and if it fails, it just comes across as sarcasm or stupidity. If I were your English teacher/lecturer I might have realised what you were trying to do. Sorry to stay wet blanket on this. Keep at it. It's a laudable goal.)

  7. Also, you have used the phrase, "in lieu of" incorrectly.