Project 2: Crop Circles

This little research question asks us to ‘write down the Signifier and the Signified of such images.’ and to ‘Take note of the places where these phenomena are formed and their relationship to the land.’

As a reminder, the signifier is the form a sign takes, and the signified is the concept that the sign represents.

The signifier here is the crop circles themselves. There are two concepts signified by them. The first is the concept of art, such as in the case of Rob Dickinson, who is talked about in the Places () excerpt. The circles he and his colleague made didn’t start out as art, but once they were outed, they publicsed themselves as artists.

The other concept is that of extra-terrestrials or other paranormal forces. Those that believe this explanation think that the circles are made by alien space craft, or else invisible energy beams from space. Other theories include a collective psychic power of humans that is manifesting the circles in the fields, or even time travellers leaving messages via the crop circles. In this case, the sign of the crop circle signifies the existence of extra-terrestrial life, or some other unexplained paranormal phenomenon.

The usual location for crop circles are in fields such as wheat, corn, oats, rice, oil-seed rape, barley, rye, tobacco. They are often in low-lying areas near steep hills, and there is a high concentration in the the south of England. Crop circles do, however, appear all over the world. Many have been found near the sites of Avebury and Stonehenge, both mythical circle formations themselves, and they do seem to appear close to other ancient landscape features such as barrows and earthworks. As the crop circles are made from the landscape, they become part it of it once they are made, until the end of the season when the fields are levelled to start all over again.

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