Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh, Crop! Art from a Bird’s Eye View

This art form is fascinating. It involves fractal geometry...and attracts all kinds of people...some of whom believe it was made by aliens from outer space! ;-)

CROP ART (CRAWP art) n. A person who creates designs by manipulating crops and other agricultural products.
—crop art n.

Example Citation:
With black beans, split peas, yellow lentils, dill seed and wild rice, you can make a savory stew — or create an art masterpiece. Works by a dozen of the state's finest crop artists whose celebrity portraits have been displayed at the State Fair are showcased in "Crop Art at the King," opening Saturday evening at T Designshop Gallery in the Northrup King Building in northeast Minneapolis.
—Tim Harlow, "Weekend Watch," Star Tribune, November 29, 2001

When I was a kid, a group of us went out into a field the day before a science trip was planned by one of our rather neurotic teachers. We stomped out a huge circle and placed certain mysterious-looking objects inside it so the teacher would think UFO's had landed there. Her response seemed one of bewilderment....but in retrospect, she probably knew exactly what had transpired. We were convinced at the time that we had fooled her. Now? Not so much... :-)

The notion of crop circles is surrounded by mystique. There are those who believe they were made by creatures from outer space while the rest of us look on in amazement at the talent inherent in creating these giant works of art that can only be seen from above.

The term "crop circle" was first used by researcher Colin Andrews to describe simple circles he was researching at that time. Since 1990 the circles evolved into complex geometries but by then the term had stuck. Examples can be found worldwide.

As mentioned earlier, various hypotheses have been offered to explain their formation, ranging from the naturalistic to the paranormal. Naturalistic explanations include man-made hoaxes or geological anomalies, while paranormal explanations include formation by UFOs.

Many circles are known to be man-made such as those created by Doug Bower, Dave Chorley, and John Lundberg, and a 2000 study into circle hoaxing concluded that virtually all of them were definitely man-made. Those unexplained were less perfect in construction and were attributed to atmospheric conditions such as storms.

In 1991, two elderly Englishmen, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, confessed to creating hundreds of crop circles, beginning in the early 1970s. This led most media sources to proclaim that all crop circles had been hoaxes. Some crop-circle scholars pointed out that these two men couldn't possibly have created all the circles, particularly those outside the U.K. Other self-described crop-circle artists, such as Circlemakers, suggest that Bower and Chorley started a trend that was picked up by others worldwide.

Bower and Chorley were awarded a lg Nobel Prize in 1992 for their crop circle hoaxing. The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October — around the time the recipients of the genuine Nobel Prizes are announced — for ten achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think.

Here is a fun video about how crop circle artists are made. :

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Stacy Alexander