Saturday, March 3, 2012

Yellow Snow Job (or 'Taking The Piss'!)

Product of an afternoon stroll?

The latest 'internet buzz' now surrounds some guy named Simon Beck, a perhaps Charlatan UK, living in alpine France, who's claiming responsibility for creating some very intricate and vastly complex 'snow circles' (think 'crop circles' in the snow).

Travelocity, eat your heart out!
I'm calling 'bullshit' on this one. Everyone seems to be consuming this inter-web pablum at Facebook value, but, as those nasty Skeptics like to say: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!" Since my skepticism is never so pathological as to identify with the moniker of  'Skeptic' or 'Debunker', I don't require anything as absurd as 'extraordinary evidence' to validate Mr.Beck's 'extraordinary claim', just a little 'simple proof', that's all!   
Instead, what we see are pictures of a bearded man, who we assume to be the artist Simon Beck, posing half-frozen like some Tyrolean garden gnome, overlooking examples of his artistic 'Savoie-Faire'.

Crop Formation Relation
These snow patterns bear a striking resemblance to the 'crop circle' phenomenon in the UK; a phenomenon which, after all these years, has yet to provide us with a proven and credible creator. The only thing needed to do this is a camera, and perhaps four or five photographs of a 'crop' or 'snow circle' being created during different stages of it's development, that's all, over and out, and then we can all go about our merry way.

This story, I'm afraid, could be just a case of 'Doug and Dave' 2.0… remember them? They were the old codgers in the UK twenty years ago who claimed responsibility for creating some intricately complex crop formations. They claimed to have created their 'circles' using merely a few boards and some rope. 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck' claims to have made his patterns using a process of "reverse orienteering" courtesy of some string, his snowshoes and a good 'sighting compass', whatever !?! …show me the money, and where's the beef?

a helicopter drop helps too!
Cold Hard Research
I've done quite a bit of research on ye-olde internet looking for that proverbial 'needle in the Igloo' which could, just maybe,  provide some reasonable evidence to support Mr.Beck's claims and technical brilliance. I have scoured through the greasy grime of Google's search engine, and scanned the vast wasteland of YouTube purgatory, and so far have found no evidence that supports Simon's claim. However, I did find a plethora of grade-8 plagiarized internet articles on Simon Beck's 'snow art' ripped from his Yahoo Groups page or Facebook, but nothing much really pre-dating February 4th 2012…interesting?!

One comment posted in a thread I sifted through came from a person who managed to ask this logical question: "Do you have time-lapse video of your work?" All 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck' has managed to say on his Yahoo Groups page is: "there is a plan to make a time-lapse video, I hope!" … I hope? What does that mean??!!!  Is he hoping there's a plan? pretty vague I'd say!  
Here's a challenge…let's have Mr.Beck draft out a design, replicate it on a large scale using a similar 'degree of difficulty' like those of his previous alleged formations (such as the making of 'straight lines' up inclines whilst plodding away in snowshoes). Why do I surmise this will never happen? Why is it more likely that 'The Powers That Shouldn't Be' will strike Iran and ignite World War III, before this humble challenge is ever met?

why scale it when you can climb a difficult slope?
Fool Proof!
Alas, maybe 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck' could care less about proving to me, or anyone else, whether or not he's the true mastermind behind these manifestations?
I suppose that's his business.  What so astounds me though, and this is my real reason for  writing this post, is how quickly, and easily, many people ingest an internet claim without ever even bothering to first investigate it. "Oh, let's see now, a man with sore feet, creates complex 'crop circle like images' in the French Alps at high altitude walking around in snowshoes with some string and a 'sighting compass'!…
Okay, I'll buy that…now Honey,  pass me the Budweiser beer and a big blue bucket of battered Buffalo wings?!"

The feedback on the various 'comments boards' have also been so predictably nauseating, a veritable cesspool of consensus trance cheerleaders enthusiastically praising Mr.Artist Beck's work. They appear to be so relieved and giddy to learn that this near impossible opus was simply the product of a few hours of hard labour by a mere mortal! 
Well 'Hip-Hop' hooray! Now there's no longer any need to challenge one's world-view, so just keep on consuming cheap chinese products forever and a day… the mystery is now solved!… let's not dig any deeper, serendipitously uncovering a truth we dare not find, like the possibility perhaps, that these images were NOT made by, nor will EVER be made by, someone named Simon Beck, Simon LeBon, Paul Simon, Ron Paul, Simon Templar, Simple Simon or Simon Says!

The fungal route to higher consciousness?
Hung Jury
Whosoever created these designs in the french Alps, and why, is anybody's guess. Yes, they could even be the handiwork of 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck', but until he provides us with some 'simple proof' to validate his 'extraordinary claim', the jury has to remain 'OUT' on this one.

Mention 'crop circles' and you will most probably be met with a concentrated dose of mild hostility, seasoned to perfection with a dash of ridicule, applied tenderly with a condescending 'wag of the finger', glazed over with a dismissive chuckle, and thematically accompanied by the humming of a few musical bars from the 'Twilight Zone'!  Now mention the 'snow art' of 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck', and suddenly it becomes: "Oh, isn't he wonderful? isn't he so talented?? those images are just soooo sublime… and what's even better, it's all soooooo very explainable, they're just simple patterns in the snow, made not by illegal aliens, but by a bearded ex-pat in snowshoes, so how about that?!  Oh, and how do I know his claims are 'true'??? because I saw it on his Facebook page!  so therefore, it's just gots to be 'true'!" 
The aforementioned bucket

Back to 'Reality'
The message from 'The Powers That Shouldn't Be' is clear:  "Go back to sleep all you 'sheeple', there IS no higher intelligence attempting to communicate with humanity, encouraging us to reconcile our rightful place in the cosmos. So hop in your S.U.V.'s and drive yourselves back to the mall, or plaza, or Wal-mart, buy another sixty-eight and a half inch Flat-Screen TV, feed the credit-fueled debt-based economy ad-infinitum, then go and get yourself a second mortgage, do anything to keep those toxic derivatives from imploding, buy up 'The Artist Currently Known As Beck's 2013 'snow circle' calendar, and for god sakes, get yourself a case of Budweiser beer and a coupla big blue buckets battered 'Buffalo wings'!!!"

Dirty CT   March 2012
my next post: Simon Beck's Racquet Racket


  1. I asked fellow studio-art graduate PD Cafargo, who just returned from a weeklong snowshoeing expedition in Northern Quebec, about the plausibility of Mr. Beck's snowshoeing claim…and he says: "N F W!"

  2. Indeed. I'd like to see how Mr Beck covers his snowshoe tracks without making a mess of things. C't'un esti de hoax!
    PD Cafargo.

  3. You lot are just blind to the obvious visual cues. It's like you come across a Michaelangelo sculpture and can't believe that someone actually did it without a computer. Your scepticism is a function of your handicap not your insight.

    I work on the beach without leaving footprints (when it suits me) and my technique is so basic yet there are people who just cannot believe the work is for real because they don't see footprints in the pictures, and they can't believe someone could do something so typographically perfect without the aid of a computer. It's just ignorance and lack of imagination. When I see work like Simon's, my mind easily flies to how it's done but you probably couldn't even figure out how to make a long, straight line in the landscape.

    You really should just feel very embarassed about this.


  4. EFTA Damage Control Unit XB-17:
    We are writing this to serve notice that this post 'Yellow Snow Job (or Taking The Piss)' is merely a 'rough sketch' for the subsequent post 'Simon Beck's Racquet Racket?'. Although it stands alone as it's own post, it is considered by the author to be less successful than the later, in terms of what it's original intention was meant to accomplish.

    Thank you, and happy commenting!

  5. It sets the tone for the following post and sets it up for failure.

    But like I said, keep it up. Parody is great when it works. It just takes a lot of practice and trial and error. It's a very subtle thing that takes great skill. When I lived in digs at University in the bad old days of Apartheid, I shared a house with some black guys - something which was still very rare in Apartheid South Africa - and we got into this thing of parodying racism between us. I'd refer to them in racist, derogorory terms and pretend to boss them around and they'd reply in exagerated subservient ways. Most visitors were profoundly offended when they encountered it some even tried to pick fights with me and were then very surprised to have me defended by my buddies. It was close-to-the-bone stuff but we loved each other. Sometimes we'd reverse roles and that helped people "get it", but the real breakthrough only came when we learned to do it just right.