Review by Galen Dekemper. Galen recently went digital with Dollar Stories, his series of ‘zine-style short stories that are available at various stores throughout the city and out of his backpack. “Two Dollar Dances” is probably the most notorious of the bunch. Buy a digital dollar story today.
Most skateboard media displays mastery as representative of much larger voyages. Four visits to a spot results in one photograph. Four years of filming and one may have a video part. The mystique of the trick conquers all, again and again. Format Perspective is Philip Evans’s documentary of six European photographers. Format Perspective is less of a highlight reel and more of a touring anatomy of scenes and sessions. Carhartt-WIP produced the multimedia object, an hour long DVD bound with a 132 page photo volume.
The title Format Perspective refers to how every media device frames then exerts authority over the viewer’s gaze and vantage point. We must see through the capturer’s eye. Each photographer has a ten-minute segment filled with explanations, recommendations and recollections, then music over photo and video montage of shredding. Super-8 film means grainier footage and photographs that appear in sharp contrast with zooms and pans that further direct our gaze. We see how the photographers find their angles and the points at which a kickflip or nosegrind 180 is most visible as such.
The photograph has a much more precise memory than the mind, and can be useful as an illustrative guide for others who seek to embark on similar projects. Nils Svensson lives and works in Malmö, Sweden, and one can see how spacious and consuming the Steppe Side project has become. Without Pontus Alv and the crew, Nils is “not sure what Malmö would have looked like.” Their urban renewal and integration is highest proof of leaving the world in a better state than how one found it.
Belfast, Northern Ireland is known as a divided city, but Stuart Robinson and crew have used skateboard and camera as interloping devices with gratifying results. Robinson is a surveyor by trade and one can imagine the overlap between concentrations to be ripe with mutual beneficence. Robinson shows a fair amount of non-skate photos and mentions searching for stronger emotions, such as eeriness or fear, that rarely appear in the safe modern world. I wonder how a non-skater chick with an interest in photography would react to this documentary. I wonder if she would find this narrative of skating more engaging than a montage of tricks she can hardly differentiate. Does the photographer’s presence as a tangential figure make him more or less relatable to her than a skateboarder? My OkCupid date cancelled tonight, so I’m watching this alone with no answer.
Enter London, England via public transit for an aggression session with Alex Irvine and mates. Observe how skateparks act as hubs in the citywide street spot quest. Irvine, from Aberdeen, Scotland, is standing editor of Kingpin magazine, so take courage that you can follow passion to another city and become successful. However, Irvine says don’t expect big money and be prepared to lose girls if you concentrate on skate photography.
Richard Gilligan documents the scene in Dublin, Ireland, which is a mixture of plaza skating and DIY action to improve upon the crusty and tempting. Gilligan recommends that the curious study landscape photography and the work of Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Steven Shore and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Switching between camera formats is a way to understand variables within the sense of sight.
Berlin, Germany resident Sergej Vutuc seeks to “integrate himself and paper” though wrinkles and washes in collage style prints with smoky tints. His works show photographs less as corrective devices upon vague memories and more as interpretations of skate tricks as dreamy, ephemeral non-things that exist once then are generally forgotten to all but the homies and archivists. A taped together picture of an older skater brings to mind his pinned together body. Skateboarding is an elusive, impermanent act and Vutuc’s work shows us the silhouettes that store our memory triggers.
Bertrand Trichet says you can make skate photography look like a fashion shoot or war photography depending on lighting and conditions. The Frenchman’s preference for new discoveries has led to him establishing a home in Spain while currently residing in Tokyo, Japan, where he and the crew dive deep into the infrastructure and return to the world with documentation of lovely, treacherous spots. Trichet shows skate photographs to his girlfriend since she can recognize a good photograph without a skater’s sentimental attachment to the notion of a trick. One can search for a flow in urban architecture similar to finding a trail through unmarked woods, by following water’s path on a street canoe.
As parting words, Bertrand encourages us to stay climbing fences. The world continues to turn, shit outside your door constantly changes, as will you, and be thankful if you have a photographer along who can bring the world to a stop so we can pause to believe how it once was and project ourselves into what will be.