GEOFF HINTON looks at the latest edition of the seasonal round-up books from Steve Alexander and Karen Douglas…
Four years in, and the format of the Crop Circle Year Books is now firmly established. You know by now exactly what you will get inside: crystal-clear images of beautiful crop designs in colourful sweeping landscapes, the cream of the Wiltshire and Hampshire formations from a single season (in this case 2002), a few arty shots of sacred sites and surrounding features (ie. the transmission masts next to the alien and disc design), and thoughtful, economic text, all laid out in an attractive A4 format.
The size of the book allows the full-page photos, taken with detail-catching large-format transparencies, to be used to their full effect, sucking the reader into the image, almost as if they themselves are hanging out of the helicopter over the marvels below. By now, Steve Alexander’s work needs no introduction – the efforts on show here leave it clear that he is the finest photographer there is in the world of croppiedom. The smaller images scattered throughout the book are no less impressive.
As with previous Year Books, guest contributors also play a part, this time with upcoming geometer and designer Allan Brown donating a page on the geometrical construction of the remarkable Alton Priors ‘rope’ mandala. His explanation of what it took simply to DRAW the formation on paper leaves one stunned at the very fact that it appeared in a field at all, showing no evidence of the type of construction grid that the diagram required for accurate rendering.
In the rush towards the end of the season, some of the later formations of a given summer can tend to get neglected in the shadow of the big drama caused by appearances like the alien and disc design, so the Year Book provides an opportunity to put back on the map those equally deserving designs which may have escaped attention (the stunningly huge six-fold flower at Etchilhampton, for instance, which barely warranted comment at the time).
The continued absence of coverage of other counties’ formations may trouble some (a criticism very reasonably countered by the cry that it is impossible to be in all places at the same time), and the omission of an exact interpretation of the alien’s coded disc at Sparsholt is rather odd, but few dedicated circle enthusiasts will really want to be without a copy of what is the best printed resume of a season available anywhere. In any case, the Year Books are clearly meant above all to invoke wonder and delight in the artistry and mystery, rather than providing a cold blow-by-blow document of mechanical details. As Karen Douglas concludes in her heartfelt written section entitled ‘The Floating World’:
“It matters little whether it happened by accident or design, from without or within. What the symbolist would say is that it happened because the visible and invisible worlds conspired that it should happen, but most of all it happened because we needed it to”.
Crop Circle Year Book 2002, Steve Alexander & Karen Douglas, Temporary Temple Press 2002, 24pp, £12.50 cover price. For details on ordering, click on the link in our main page or go to the Temporary Temples website at: