A "folk art" designation is only partially correct. There are certainly
untrained amateurs at work for the "fun" of it, but their results are
always the klunkiest examples for all to see. (This is, however, an
'anybody can try it' art form however.) But what are designated as
"authentic" circles are a matter of not only supreme perfection (in
flattening grain in unknowable ways - swirling patterns of INTERWOVEN
stocks, a single stalk remaining standing and apparently untouched in a
flattened area, etc.) but also the results of evident art training,
sophisticated design methodology, and knowledgeable backgrounding (the use
of both ancient and modern iconography such as ancient Celtic symbology or
fractal shapes, as well as provocative placements adjacent to ancient
Celtic or Druid landmarks). I think Rod went to art school, is steeped in
art history, and is no longer a "folk."
In this age of popularly embraced pseudo science, we even see the fine art
establishment trying to make something of this general wave of modern human
interest in it, safely housed in gallery or museum to make sure everyone
KNOWS it's pseudo. The intensely intellegent fine art establishment is just
never going to seriously suggest that there is anything going on here that
we don't already know about and have fully cataloged. It would of course
impinge on their "credibility." I also think the totally illegal
trespassing and vandalism aspect makes them uncomfortable. Like, "Hey!
somedody OWNS that land! You've got to get permission to make such art!
(sound familiar?) But "folk art" seems to be more like a way of safely
distancing this land art from how amazingly "fine" it is. I have a feeling
that the persistent anonynimity involved (nobody ever taking credit for any
individual work, and I DON'T think this is totally based on the cops
showing up if they did.) is one of the things that really bugs the fine art
community and pulls their hallowed attribution rug out from under them.
(Eliminating their primary way of evaluating stuff) They just can't get
intellectually close to art that simply REMAINS anonymous forever with THAT
INTENT as part of its effect. Only "folk art" is anything like that (and
which is therefore "worth" less.)
I think the self evident level of planning and execution (execution being
virtually unbelievable on a physical and timetable level in many more than
a few cases) portrays a highly "professional" dedication and
resourcefulness, as well as an education in imagery that does not register
as "folk" in nature - at least in those designs that are not created by
unknown ET technology...
>Further to Don's post re: crop circles.
>I was happy to read this and couldn't agree more. There are, however, one or
>two folk who DO take responsibility, among whom is Rod Dickinson, the author
>of the essay below which supports Don's hypothesis and suggests that
>circlemaking is a type of folk art. It should be noted that while Rod and
>his colleagues are in the open about their activities they don't have an
>answer for the "anomalies" which they encounter while circlemaking. Hehe. I
>think they came out mainly because the so-called researchers were becoming
>increasingly ridiculous but such questions are best directed at the artists
>Sound bods with an interest could also seek out Rod's contribution to the
>Thurston Moore "Root" boxset which is on Lo Records, a field recording of a
>night's circle-making activities.
>More info can be found here: http://www.circlemakers.org/
>Folks who make art
>By Rod Dickinson
>Images of the otherworld and the supernatural are legion in art history. The
>secular 20th century has also produced an abundance of artists whose work
>draws upon occult ideas or the paranormal. 'The Inner Eye' a recent touring
>exhibition brought together some of these representations, alongside
>artifacts and photographs associated with a variety of spirit and paranormal
>phenomena. Both art works and fortean artifacts were presented without
>differentiation, as equally legitimate ways to approach or render the
>spiritual and the invisible. In this context the issue of whether the
>fortean artifacts on display were the result of otherworldly intervention,
>or as in the case of the spirit photographs, crude double exposures...became
>Whilst this exhibition dealt with an essentially 19th century conception of
>other dimensions and realms, across the Atlantic the Huntington Beach Art
>Centre in California recently showed, 'Are We Touched? Identities from Outer
>Space' an exhibition assembled on a similar premise to 'The Inner Eye', an
>anthropological exploration of UFO culture bringing together contemporary
>art and UFO groups. Amongst the diverse participants were Heavens Gate, and
>drawings by Allagash abductee Chuck Rak.
>Both these exhibitions traced that folkloric process, where real events are
>transformed into myth, and myths are made real - This process permeates many
>aspects of the fortean field via abundant visual representations.
>Surprisingly it is all but ignored by researchers. Yet much of the visual
>iconography of Ufology is composed of photographs and artifacts that owe
>more to creative acts of the imagination than evidence of alien
>intervention. From George Adamski and Daniel Fry to Billy Meier and Ed
>Walters. Latter contributors to the genre include Doug Bower (crop circles)
>and Ray Santilli and co (dead aliens).
>Exhibitions like these allow this persistent and clandestine type of
>creative endeavour to be appraised alongside more conventional art works,
>and without resort to that reductive Ufological diagnosis of 'hoax or
>genuine'. The continuity, often over decades, of some of these scurrilous
>deeds perpetrated by individuals who invest a large amount of time and
>imagination, often with little to gain, apparently defies explanation - But
>considered as an elusive and esoteric branch of folk art it begins to make a
>lot more sense. Imagine Adamski, Walters et al with their homemade flying
>saucer models (one of Walter's was found in his house) with camera invisible
>strings, blackout curtains and double exposures. The very same technique
>mediums were using to produce spirit photographs at the beginning of the
>century. Both subjects additionally propelled by photography's ability to
>simultaneously connect and disconnect the viewer with reality (1).
>The mandala like image of the flying disc (itself based on a
>misunderstanding of Kenneth Arnold's original sighting in 1947) has such a
>resonance in human culture that Carl Jung speculated its origins, despite
>being manifested psychically, probably lay within the imagination (2). The
>disc or circle is also the main component of the crop circle phenomenon,
>which also has it's committed practitioners, who account for the most
>spectacular designs that appear annually. As one of their number I am aware
>that we also observe a rigid set of parameters and construction techniques
>ensuring the continuity of the phenomenon from year to year.
>Likewise it is possible to view the collective body of drawings made by
>abductees as a similar type of folk art, whatever the origin of their
>Forays into other fortean areas have also been made by American artist
>Jeffrey Vallance, whose images of simulacra that occasionally appear in
>Fortean Times leave us unable to distinguish between artifice and reality,
>and Doc Shiels, whose sea monster photographs have much in common with the
>aforementioned UFO images. These art forms inspire a range of transfiguring
>interpretation and perception. Elevated from beyond their prosaic origins
>they are deposited in the realm of miracles, and otherworldly intervention.
>This kind of artistic activity has also had a direct influence on
>conventional art practice - many of the surrealists and symbolist artists
>were influenced by 19th century occult doctrines and apparent paranormal
>phenomena; from C.W. Leadbeater's illustrations of 'thought forms' to the
>technique of automatic writing (3).
>Whilst mostly outside the parameters of conventional art practice this type
>of folk art embraces that rich vein of mythology occupied by the trickster.
>Far from the cynic or the skeptic the trickster, from shamanic cultures to
>our own has punctuated history with lies and deceptions, The resulting
>collision of genuine and fake, artifice and reality has created a
>paradoxical twilight reality that is the arena of strange phenomena. Artists
>(in all but name) have found and populated this arena for decades, perhaps
>even centuries, regularly producing representations, which, at their best
>are visionary works of art.
>1 Tom Gunning: Phantom Images and Modern Manifestations, in: Fugitive Images
>>From photography to Video 1995, Indiana University Press
>2 C.G.Jung : Flying Saucers A Modern Myth of Things Seen In The Sky
>3 Examples of both Leadbeater's thought forms and automatic writing were
>included in 'The Inner Eye'
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