FIELD REPORT 5
Saturday, July 11, 1998
By NHNE SwiftWing Reporter Sherry Stultz
Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, England
The following interview was conducted at THE BARGE INN on Saturday afternoon in Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, England on June 13, 1998. Since I have a follow-up interview scheduled with John Lundberg of the Circlemakers later this month, I am sending this first interview back to NHNE for everyone to read. John and I discussed a variety of things and the interview is quite lengthy, though informative. As I write, crop circle researcher Colin Andrews is engaging private detectives to track the Circlemakers this summer. John, meanwhile, claims he has not made any circles thus far this season.
If you have questions about this interview, I will address them when I return to the states at the end of the month. You can send your letters, questions and comments concerning this report (and previous ones) to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
My thanks to the folks who took care of me last week when I was out with a severe ear infection and bronchitis. I have been very fortunate on this trip to have been treated so kindly by everyone I have met.
Best Wishes to All,
Sherry (Sher) Stultz
SJS = Sherry Stultz
JL = John Lundberg
A TALK WITH JOHN LUNDBERG OF THE CIRCLEMAKERS
SJS: So where do you work?
JL: I work in London. I am a designer. I build websites and CD ROM's.
SJS: That's your only job? Do you do artwork on the side?
JL: Only the circles. Up until 1994, I used to do a bit in galleries. I decided in 1994 to give up exhibiting in galleries and start doing what we're doing now which is working covertly out in the fields making circles, among other things.
SJS: Have you ever traveled outside the UK?
JL: Yes, extensively. I've been to Egypt and saw a nice field there that was actually in view of the oldest Pyramid in Egypt. It was near an agricultural region and you could have put down a circle in view of the Pyramid, which would have been amazing, but because the agricultural region is so poor there, the farmer would die of a heart attack, or I might get lynched.
SJS: Where else have you been?
JL: I went to New Zealand recently.
SJS: Have you been to the states yet?
JL: I went to Las Vegas and out to Area 51 last Christmas.
SJS: Before 1994, you weren't doing any of this (making circles)?
JL: I personally wasn't, but people in my group were. People in my group have been making circles since 1991.
SJS: So how did you get involved in the Circlemakers? Were you recruited?
JL: Basically our group, the core members of our group, were myself and Rod Dickinson and we were later joined by Will Russell. Both myself and Rod were exhibiting in and around London and our artwork revolved around the paranormal. I was introduced to Rod at one private view by being told "this is Rod Dickinson, and he does work about UFO's and weird shit and he's made a few crop circles." We decided to formally put together a group, a professional group to go out every year and make circles.
SJS: You asked me if I was tingling all over when I went to a crop circle. Have you ever gone into one before that you didn't make and felt uncomfortable or weird?
JL: I have never gone into a circle and felt tingling, but we've actually seen aerial anomalies when we were out making circles.
SJS: It wasn't an airplane, or a chopper?
JL: Absolutely not. I mean we were out night after night, and it's quite apparent when you have a ball of light hovering around flying behind a hedge that it's not an airplane. Back in 1994, I had three experiences over two weeks. We made a lot of stuff in '94, and we were out with a journalist, and experienced these massive bolts of light like flash guns going off in front of our faces. We assumed someone had strapped a camera to a nearby tree, but that was kind of odd. And then we were out later in the week, doing another formation and had exactly the same experience with these bright flashes of light. We were about 100 feet apart, but we both felt like it was right in front of us. It was very localized. It's not a 400 foot craft with lights on it. It happened a third time the next week. I was out making what turned out to be the last formation of the year because I was so freaked out, and we were just finishing off the formation, putting a ring around the outside. We were in the proximity of the standing stones and when I lined up with the stones and the guy who was standing in the center this massive bolt of light happened again.
We've also seen aerial anomalies -- stuff flying around the sky -- not only when we've been out making stuff, but when we have revisited them we seen stuff as well. Nearly every circle maker has seen aerial anomalies or UFO's associated with circles that they've made or other people have made or maybe they don't know who made the circles.
SJS: This doesn't frighten you enough to stop making circles?
JL: No, no. It perturbed me, and back in '94 that was the last one we made that year. Nothing has been ever really threatening, we've just had weird stuff. So we really do generally believe that the circles we make catalyze other paranormal events, definitely without a shadow of a doubt.
SJS: Such as?
JL: We've had situations where we've had a diagram that we have digressed from when we've been in the field and maybe left a circle off and we've come back the next day to see how it looks and the circle that we omitted had been added to the formation. Now we never tell anybody where we are going and when we are doing it, and the chances of another group finding our field and knowing what we were going to make -- there's no way. No one knew what we were going to make. So there's stuff like. I would term that a paranormal event. It's inexplicable.
And we've also had situations where we come down here and do reccies (reconnaissance); we look at fields and say this would be a good field to hit. A few years ago there was a situation where we had a diagram and we had a field set out for it, we came down, and it was still daylight and the formation we had set out for that field was sitting in that field; we never got to make it.
SJS: So you actually believe that there is a phenomenon occurring? Or you're a skeptic?
JL: No, no I am not a skeptic at all; I am just completely open-minded about it. I've had loads and loads of inexplicable experiences, not just within the circles, but outside of that as well and I am just as much as a believer as anybody else in this pub is. I really am.
SJS: Do you confine your circle making to Wiltshire, or do you go into the other counties?
JL: We have done [other areas], but there's something very magical about this area, I mean the Wiltshire Triangle, the Avebury Stone Circles, Silbury Hill and Stone Henge as well. When you make a circle here in the right place, near a sacred site, it becomes more than the sum of its parts. Now if we made a circle out in Sussex somewhere, it doesn't have the same power.
SJS: So you confine most of them to this region because you find it psychically creative?
JL: It seems right.
SJS: It feels comfortable?
JL: No, it's not comfortable. This is the worst area to make them because everybody expects them to be here. People are watching the fields which makes it very difficult for us to make circles here. It would be much easier for us to go out into the middle of nowhere but we feel making formations here is more powerful. We are always lampooned by the researchers for muddying the waters, but I just do not believe it at all. I feel what we do is integral to the phenomenon; it's a core part of the phenomenon; it's a contribution to the phenomenon. There's no way that we are muddying the waters. The circles we make are genuine, absolutely.
SJS: Genuine because you are inspired to make them?
JL: Genuine in the fact that they catalyze other paranormal events.
SJS: I have seen some crop circles made recently in the area. And you haven't made any this year, right?
JL: I said we won't be making any this year because of Colin Andrews.
SJS: We just heard that Colin received a grant from Rockefeller. Have you made any circles prior to this announcement?
JL: No, we haven't been out this year.
SJS: I have spoken with quite a few people around here involved in the phenomenon and no one has been impressed with any of the circles. The crop circles that have been produced so far this season don't seem to be a genuine, non-human phenomenon at this point.
JL: Like I said, I've been busy. (laughing)
SJS: Busy with your other job?
JL: Exactly, yes.
SJS: I walked into one formation and wasn't, as you say in this country, "gobsmacked."
JL: Most people seem to think that most of the formations that have appeared here in Wiltshire and around the country are pretty poor and I think they are pretty substandard. I think there's a new group or groups that are out that are very keen, but aren't obviously very good at it yet.
SJS: So you think there are two or three more groups that are operating?
JL: Well, yeah, there are two key groups that work in Wiltshire, who I would term circle makers, people who make things with the same kinds of intentions that we make them.
SJS: Two besides your core group, so three? Or am I adding wrong?
JL: No that's including my core group, and there's one other group.
SJS: Do you train together and exchange ideas?
JL: Pretty much all of the circle makers have collaborated in the past on projects.
SJS: So on a larger formation, instead of three, you might find six or seven people?
JL: No, you would never have more than four people making a formation.
JL: Because it becomes too chaotic. I mean to actually have that amount of people in the field, you would just have two people standing around doing nothing all the time. It's impossible to coordinate more than four people. People say you would need 50 men. You need at least one person, but no more than four people.
SJS: Do you ever go back to the circles you've made to see people's reactions?
JL: Yeah, sometimes. [But] because more and more people recognize who I am, it's difficult to be seen around Wiltshire after a formation has appeared. It's a bad idea for us because people naturally assume that we made it. Sometimes we come in just to look at the circles. We can taint a formation just by coming back and being around. So very rarely do I come back and see formations. Probably the only time I am in a crop circle is in the dead of night when I am making it. I've only been in three or four formations since 1994. But I'd like to make this point: I find it quite ironic that we can go into a field and flatten crop and it's seen as a criminal activity, but if an extraterrestrial comes and flattens a crop, it's seen as gift. What's the difference between the flattened crop that we have done and the flattened crop the extraterrestrials have made?
The circles we make -- when we actually flatten the crop -- the farmer can lower his blades and still harvest the crop that we've flattened. We don't destroy any crop. The only time crop gets destroyed is when people visit a formation. And if people visit the formation in large numbers, the farmer can and should charge them to visit the field and he will certainly recover the cost of the crop, plus a lot more. The farmer at Stone Henge in 1996 made approximately 30,000 pounds over four weeks, which is way over the amount of crop that he lost. And if he stopped people going into the field, he would have lost no crop because he could have recovered that crop by lowering his blades. So the only thing we are guilty of is trespassing, and I can't justify that. If I was farmer, I would be out with my shotgun, too.
SJS: Do you ever have any dreams about symbols or things that you want to include in your work that might be coming from the collective unconscious?
JL: The inspirations for our designs come from everywhere -- from adverts in magazines to other artworks.
SJS: Do you have any background or degrees in geometry?
JL: I've got a degree and two M.A.'s.
SJS: Do you have geometry books to give you ideas?
JL: We take inspiration from anywhere, but, yeah, I think we do. Have you seen the NBC documentary?
JL: They said we have no interest in sacred geometry, which is completely incorrect. We do. We try as much as possible to use the golden mean, and encode sacred ratios into the formations we make.
SJS: So it's the middle of the night, it's dark, and you're trying to make it look as if it has sacred geometry. I know you're an artist, but I think I would get a little mixed up. How do you maintain the geometric integrity of a symbol?
JL: How do you transfer it from the diagram to the field?
JL: I brought some bits and bobs to show you.
[John produced a laminated diagram of the crop circle that was featured on the NBC documentary.]
JL: That's what we made for NBC. Obviously, I am showing you this because we don't claim formations. We know this one is man made. And that's how it would look in the field.
SJS: I saw the NBC documentary. They said it took you six hours to make that formation?
JL: They were wrong. It took us four hours. We had nothing to do with the voiceover. We were slightly pissed off. I mean, it proves nothing. If you are going to make a formation, you have to make it in under four hours, because that's all you have. If you're in the field for six hours, you're feeding into daylight.
SJS: So why did they change it?
JL: It was sloppy. But this is a typical diagram that we take into the field.
SJS: So each one of you has this?
SJS: Do you have a head lamp?
JL: No. Actually it's amazing how much you can see at night. After a while, your retinas opened up and you can see.
SJS: Do you say, "O.K., Rod, you're taking this end?" Or do you piecemeal it together?
JL: We work out a construction procedure.
SJS: And of course you have to have it laminated here in England because it rains every day!
JL: Well, actually we don't. This is the first time we've had it laminated because NBC had a good budget.
SJS: May I ask what kind of payment you received?
JL: No, you can't.
SJS: I am just curious what they're paying now.
JL: Well if your tape recorder off, I'll tell you.
SJS: Besides the "Black Watch," have you ever received any threats?
JL: Oh, yeah. Basically they come through email, on a weekly basis. It's just idiots.
SJS: What kinds of comments do you receive?
JL: The same as the Black Watch: threats on our properties, etc.
SJS: Do you know who the Black Watch is? Have you investigated them?
JL: We know who they are. It's nothing. It means nothing.
SJS: I have asked around.
JL: And what did you find out?
SJS: I know for a fact that's it none of the researchers, because that's not their MO -- and I talked to one person who had two theories of who he thinks it might be.
JL: And what did he say?
SJS: It was off the record.
JL: I know one of the people who are Black Watch now and they have admitted it, so it's nothing.
SJS: What concerns you most about safety issues with this particular job or hobby?
JL: For us the biggest concern is getting caught. It's not stupid threatening letters from people, it's being caught making a formation. If we get caught making a formation -- I spoke to legal people -- [the penalties] range from small and quite substantial fines to maybe 3 months in prison, depending on who you speak to. The only people who have been successfully prosecuted who have made circles were back in 1992. [They were] a group of students in Hungary who made a crop circle and later went on TV and admitted they'd made it and were subsequently sued by the farmer. Initially, they were going to be liable for about 10,000 pounds, but the judge only charged them the equivalent of about 49 pounds, which was the price of the crop they had flattened -- and he said most of the damage to the crop was caused by subsequent visitors to the formation, which backs up what I said: we don't damage the crop, it's the subsequent visitors.
SJS: So you don't admit what you make because you don't want to be slapped with lawsuits?
SJS: It's not the kind of artwork you can sign?
JL: No, by it's very nature, what we do has to be anonymous. As soon as we claim a formation, we kill it. The reason that a crop circle has power is because it's inexplicable, it's a mystery. If you claim a formation, you drain all that mystery and power away from it. People say it's man made. It's not interesting. So it's not the fear of prosecution, we just don't want to destroy the power of our artworks.
SJS: Paul Vigay takes in electronic equipment to measure energy residues, and he has come to the conclusion, at this point, that human made ones don't have energy residues.
JL: How does he make those conclusions? How does he know he isn't getting readings in formations we've made? I know for a fact that he's getting readings in formations we've made.
SJS: I have a question about Head-Space. This is a strange place to house your website?
JL: Head-Space is run by my company. It's a commercial art server for art projects, so that's why the Circlemakers is on it.
SJS: It looked a little pop-culturalish; I wasn't sure why you used it: convenience sake, you get a discount?
JL: The company pays for the hosting of the site. I get paid by my company to work on and produce the Circlemakers website.
SJS: So why are they interested in circle making?
JL: They are altruistic and they want to support the arts. The website is a forum for us to talk about what we do.
SJS: So it's one of the projects you get paid for, besides other projects?
JL: Absolutely, yes.
SJS: Besides your company and the odd cash you might receive from NBC-type sources, do you have any other funding?
JL: Yeah, but the amount of money we spend on petrol -- [remember] we live in London -- we're not in profit yet. No way. It's a hobby.
SJS: Do you take different cars each time so your cars aren't recognized?
JL: Sometimes we use hired cars. We're very careful.
SJS: Do you park where your car can't be seen?
JL: Yeah. We've been known to park up to a mile or even two miles away, depending on if the field is being watched. We work a lot harder than the researchers. (laughing) We take more risks. It annoys me that we are seen as figures of fun by the researchers. I am just as much a believer as anybody else is.
SJS: So please repeat it for me again -- why aren't you going to make any circles this year?
JL: Well, maybe we will and maybe we won't. I think there are certain risks involved in what we do and when the risks outweigh the benefits, at that point we decide that we will cease making circles. I don't particularly want to end up in court; it's not something I particularly relish...
SJS: I knew Colin Andrews got a grant from Lawrence Rockefeller, but I didn't know it entailed hiring private investigators to tail Circlemaker's. That's part of the Alan, right?
JL: Absolutely. He put out a press release yesterday. I think it's unfortunate because if anything he's going to damage the phenomenon.
SJS: I can see that he's frustrated and wants to narrow the playing field.
JL: I think he will find that he will have a very bad season. He won't have any spectacular formations this year. So he's shooting himself in the foot.
SJS: I have to ask you this, and I am a little embarrassed since I have been asked this by other people here -- you don't work for the CIA do you?
(laughing, laughing, laughing)
JL: I think people would like to believe that we work for the secret services, but I think [these ideas] come out because people see that we are attacking their belief systems. The first line of defense -- if we can prove that we can make complex formations -- is to say the we must be funded or we must work for the government, or disinformation agents who are trying to ruin the phenomenon. I think it's easy to weave quite complex conspiracy theories that have 20% truth and 80% complete falsehood. I think the secret service and the government have absolutely no interest in circles whatsoever.
SJS: Really? What about the helicopters?
JL: What helicopters? Perhaps they are curious if they see one (a crop circle) in a field.
SJS: So you don't think the government has any interest in crop circles whatsoever?
JL: Absolutely not. I can't see any reason why the government would be interested in crop circles.
SJS: So you think there might be more than four groups working in the UK?
JL: Throughout the UK there are small groups that go and make a couple circles, but in terms of real circle makers, people who have a dedication to it, there are only two teams in the UK.
SJS: Two teams? Are you the A Team or the B Team?
JL: The A Team was our predecessor. They were a team working in Wiltshire in the 1980's. When we started in 1994, they were dubbed the "A Team," the people who made the Barby Castle formation. So we're not the A Team. They were the A Team. We're the Circlemakers.
SJS: So how much longer are you going to do this, John? You're getting pretty old at 29.
JL: I don't know. It's difficult to say really. It's not the only thing we do. I mean we have other projects that we're working on.
SJS: Such as?
JL: I can't say.
SJS: You can't say?
JL: No. We do a whole scope of projects and the crop circles is the only thing we actually publicly speak about in terms of our artworks. The reason we do that is because circles have a history of human intervention, basically there has been a history of hoaxing and public debates about hoaxing. We can do interviews like this without damaging the phenomenon, whereas with other projects it would be much more damaging to do an interview about what we're doing.
SJS: So are your other projects artistic in nature?
JL: Absolutely, yes. They are exactly the same; they are covert artistic projects.
SJS: You're landing on somebody's lawn in a spaceship?
JL: Covert artistic projects within the realm of the paranormal, but we don't speak about them.
SJS: But do they inspire fear or do they inspire awe?
SJS: So you scare people? I mean there's enough fear in this world to go around the globe 20,000 times.
JL: I think some people get scared by the crop circles. People are scared of the unknown. When you are dealing with the paranormal you are bound to frighten people.
SJS: So how do you balance your time between the crop circles and the other covert artistic projects?
JL: We do the circles in the summer and we do the others in the rest of the time.
SJS: So the other stuff doesn't involve plants then?
JL: No, no...
Field Reports & Updates
An NHNE Special Report
By NHNE SwiftWing Reporter Sherry Stultz