Crop Circles Geometric Snow Artworks
Simon Beck creates large, intricate geometric patterns in the snow by walking in snow wearing raquettes (snowshoes). The artist uses an orienteering compass and measuring tape to get his bearings and “lay out” the design, then uses a clothes line and a central anchor to achieve curves and circles.
Most of the designs are simple geometric figures, or figures generated by repeating simple rules at different scales. Beck plots the design into his canvas of snow in the French Alps using a sighting compass with distances measured either by pace counting or string.
He creating these sensational patterns of snow art. Working for 5-9 hours a day, each final piece is typically the size of three soccer fields! The geometric forms range in mathematical patterns and shapes that create stunning, sometimes 3D, designs when viewed from higher levels.
54-year-old Simon Beck turns the hills and frozen lakes around Les Arcs into geometrically-perfect immaculate masterpieces. His intricate prints are huge, often spanning the equivalent size of six football fields, but while you’d be tempted to think Beck needs at least several days to complete just one of these patterns, he really only needs about 10 hours, on average.
The biggest challenge for Beck (besides getting overly tired) is finding a way to reduce the visibility of his own tracks when he begins and finishes a piece. Sometimes, he might work all day only to have his design covered by fresh snow overnight. At other times, he finishes a design right at sunset and doesn’t have enough light remaining to photograph his work properly. But the inability to predict the outcome is part of the fun.
Most people at the resort love the art, but at least one group questions his time and methods. “Most of the skiers think I am a bit mad, and it’s a waste of good skiing time (I agree, hence the preference for working at night.), but I hope to spread the message the mountains and snow are beautiful and worth preserving,” he says.
After another winter in France, Beck has bigger plans for 2013. He wants to travel to Norway to mash his work into a different landscape. And maybe, eventually, he’ll set up a tour to show his photos, though it’s unlikely this will happen at any time when there’s still fresh snow falling on the slopes.
Most of this activity takes place in the ski resort of Les Arcs, where I own an apartment and spend most of the winter. On average they take about 10 hours to really do it properly, some are a little unfinished, if my feet get cold or hurt too much.
The setting out is done using handheld orienteering compass and distance determination using pace counting or measuring tape. Curves are either judged or arcs of circle using a clothes line attached to an anchor at the centre
I have never damaged the ice on the lakes I use AFAIK, when the ice starts melting you seem to get a layer of snow on top of a layer of watery mush on top of the main layer of ice. I often test the ice by jumping on it wearing ski boots and trying to break it (in known shallow areas!) but have not yet succeeded in damaging it other than by dropping a heavy pointed rock.
Inevitably there is a lot of comparison with crop circles. I have never been involved in the creation of crop circles, nor do I condone this sort of activity without permission of the owner. I would like to do some farm art WITH permission.
Name: Crop Circles Geometric Snow Artworks
Type: Snow Art
Dimensions: large geometric patterns
Technique: walking in snow wearing raquettes (snowshoes)
Artist: Simon Beck
Text Description: © Courtesy of Simon Beck
Images: © Simon Beck