With nothing more than just a pair of snow boots, the power of his legs, and some intuitive math, Simon Beck has created hundreds of spectacular, large-scale land art pieces onto snowy terrains around the world.
Beck’s works, which he categorically dubs as “snow art,” show intricate geometric shapes inspired by patterns found in nature such as snowflakes, spiraled cactus spears, and cannabis leaves.
Beck, a former engineer, has been creating his snow art for more than 15 years. How does he do it? His basic method is fixing his gaze at a certain marker in the distance and walking toward it.
“Usually I work outwards from the center,” he explains on his Facebook page, which if followed by more than 270,000 people. “Straight lines are made by using the compass and walking in a straight line towards a point in the distance, curves are made by judgment. Both require a lot of practice to get it good.”
A typical drawing takes Beck a day of work. “If I am not too tired I continue into the night until it is complete,” he said. His largest work, a four-clover pattern drawn onto a frozen reservoir in eastern France, took him 32 hours to make in four eight-hour shifts. That particular piece, according to Beck, was the size of “six soccer fields.”
Beck’s work is ephemeral by nature, inevitably destroyed by the elements. “You’ve got to try and get these things done in one day,” he said, “because the weather in the mountains is not entirely predictable.”
One large work, he once explained, was snowed over right after it was finished. “By the next morning, it had gone,” he said. But what really frustrates him, he added, is when a work is destroyed before it’s finished, sometimes by reckless skiers.
One of Beck’s favorite destinations is Lac Marlou, a frozen lake outside a ski resort in the French Alps. That’s where he created several of his most monumental works. He also creates large-scale sand art pieces, usually on beaches, with the help of a rake.
All of these works live through photographic documentation. “Provided I’ve got the photographers, it’s job done,” Beck said.
If you want to witness Beck’s work in action, catch him at Silverthorne, Colorado, where he will be creating a series of works between January 2–16.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with cultural organizer and curator La Tanya S. Autry on February 1 at 7pm (EST).
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