A recent spate of man-made ‘face’ formations reveal just how impressive the more mysterious Crabwood ET face of this summer really was…
The human circlemaking group ‘Team Satan’ have recently been flexing their design abilities by producing a series of human faces in fields for a number of commercial enterprises, namely for the ‘Orange’ mobile phone company and for the UK television chat show ‘Richard and Judy’, broadcast on Channel 4.
Four versions of a woman’s face were made for Orange to tie in with a series of clever TV ads in which faces of loved ones appear in varied media to observers (a man on a beach sees his partner’s image appearing from seaweed and driftwood, etc). Although crop circles themselves aren’t seen in the televised advertisement, Team Satan’s efforts were used as part of a follow-up campaign in press advertising.
In September, Channel 4’s popular ‘Richard and Judy’ show, starring the formidable husband and wife team of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan, commissioned Team Satan to use the same style to create their own images in a crop circle (see photo). With most southern fields cut down by that point, an excursion to Scotland was paid for by Channel 4, where the project was carried out over a weekend.
Aerial photos of the faces were then widely distributed to the press to promote the new series, and your friendly neighbourhood Swirled News editor took part in a live television debate with Richard and Judy on the nature of crop circles, sparring with Team Satan member Rod Dickinson. Both sides got a surprisingly fair hearing, despite the obvious bias resulting from the commissioning of the man-made art. (Just a few weeks later, ex-planker Rob Irving was on the show, balanced with ‘UFO Magazine’ editor Graham Birdsall. Amongst other UFO footage, the 1996 Oliver’s Castle video purporting to show a crop formation appearing was rather nonchalantly – and unconvincingly - debunked, without evidence even being talked about.)
The man-made face construction technique is undeniably clever – to a degree. Photos are scanned and reduced to lines and blocks using a computer program. The formations are then simply constructed by scaling up each line and block when in the field.
However, numerous observers have pointed out that in comparison to the ET face at Crabwood this August, the Team Satan faces are crude and simplistic, if cute. The impressive quality about the ET face is that the lines which make up the alien part of the design widen and reduce again (sometimes at a width that can’t be walked) at varied intervals in a far more sophisticated way. The planked versions don’t change in width along their length and follow a unsubtly rigid layout. Television close-ups of the team laying down the formation showed an unimpressive lay.
It has been pointed out that if Team Satan – the TV plankers of choice - or their like had anything to do with the construction of the Crabwood design, as several sceptics have insinuated, why would the same technique not have been employed in the commercial face formations? It was clear from conversations with Rod Dickinson at the Richard and Judy studios that Team Satan had not been involved with the ET face.
Meanwhile, in Ellenville, New York, a huge representation of the face of Elvis Presley mown into a 50 acre field by artist Roger Baker and “four helpers” caused a fuss for a while, as if this had some bearing on the crop circle phenomenon. Yet it took a whole month to construct, demanding much work, and, whilst striking, it still isn’t anywhere near the sophistication of the Crabwood effort (see Martin Noakes’s recent article), which appeared either in one or two nights depending on which story you go with. Either way, the time difference is stark.
Though much controversy remains around the Crabwood face, these recent man-made efforts, if anything, reveal just how clever it was, reinforcing the view yet again that if it WAS some kind of human deception, as some researchers still insist, it is one of the most elaborate pieces of land art ever created and something far beyond the usual plankers’ efforts, as the recent commercial enterprises have demonstrated. Equally, these comparisons have convinced others that the Crabwood event was nothing whatsoever to do with any human team…
Rumours doing the rounds of web discussion groups of another ‘face and wheel’, but this time spotted being cut into Alaskan ice by a UFO, remain totally unconfirmed.
Crabwood ET, Aug 2002 (photo: STEVE ALEXANDER)