Parkour, the City, the EventPresentation Transcript
Le Parkour, The City, The Event Oli Mould University of the Arts London
David Belle and Sebastian Foucan – the Yamakasi Group in 1988 in the suburbs of Paris
Increasingly evident in popular culture
‘ Rush Hour’ ident in 2003
Films (mainstream – Casino Royale)
Computer Games (GTA4, Assassin’s Creed)
Free Running (Nike, Addidas adverts)
Free Running Championships in London, 3 rd September in the Roundhouse, Camden
Parkour and the City
Unique interaction with the urban environment (Parkour rarely associated with non-urban environments)
Often seen as subversive, akin to skateboarding, and marginalised by city authorities
Ties in with the conceptualisation of the multipli city or the 100-mile / Endless City (Sudjic, 1992, 2008)
Can we understand Parkour and the city through a theoretical engagement?
Line of Flight?
Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 208)
“ Find your black holes and white walls, know them, know your faces; it is the only way you will be able to dismantle them and draw your lines of flight”.
Smooth versus striated space of the urban environment (evident in the BBC ident)
The nodamic war machine and the space instituted by the state apparatus
‘ Subserviseness’ of Parkour can seem ‘nomadic’, while the striated city (architecture) can seem to ‘institutionalise through state apparatus’
Line of Flight?
‘ Cutting through’ the city is an appropriate metaphor, but the ‘war machine’ aspect of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought (see Zizek, 2008) goes against the grain of Parkour
More an essence of ‘rediscovery’
Practicing Parkour, is to identify sites, discover the forests from top to bottom , the cites and the originality of our discipline finds itself in the unlimited diversity of the spaces that are offered to us. The perception of that which surrounds us is modified at each instance and calls for freedom of expression”.
“ Nothing happened to me, ***** *******. I happened. You can’t reduce me to set of influences.”
“ Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened . You can’t reduce me to set of influences.” (Harris, 1988: 19)
“ The emergence of the New, which cannot be reduced to its causes or conditions” (Zizek, 2008: 386)
Therefore, we could turn to Badiou (1988, 2005) and ‘The Event’ for a number of reasons…
Multiple of multiples / the what-is-not-one coming to the fore
A run is a continuum of traceur / urban interactions
Fidelity to the Event
(Dewsbury, 2007: 453)
“ moments thus only become events in their maintenance through fidelity post their taking place ; thus the politics rests in whether we maintain the truth of the event”.
Fidelity to the event, faith, is a crucial concept in Parkour, as it reifies truth (Hallward, 2003)
Rejection of commercialist activities, Zen-like, almost religious tendencies of Parkour can subjectify the ‘truth’ of the event of Parkour
Fidelity to the Event
Arguably, tracuers have contributed to the event of Parkour by practicing it faithfully (i.e. in its original form and style, rather than ‘free-running’) and ‘rediscovery’ of the city
Parkour versus Free-running?
Parkour about movement, a philosophy, an escape
Free-running is the commercialisation which, some argue, is needed – “if you impress people and they will take you seriously”
Urban Freeflow clothing
Recent ‘Free-Running Championships’ in London (sponsored by Barclaycard)
So Badiou’s conceptualisation of the event allows us to:
Free Parkour’s ‘smooth movement’ from the ‘war machine’ (subversion, violence)
See how it is fidelity and faithfulness to Parkour by traceurs that creates an Event (also through the rejection of commercialism)
Highlight the fluidity and ‘multiple of multiples’ of a run
Also, the minutiae of interaction of the tracuers with the urban ‘tools’ creates a reappropriation of the city (i.e. Lefebvre)
Continued disparity between Parkour and ‘free-running’ (commercialisation, media)
Dissemination of the image (akin to skateboarding) – about the spectacular
Masculinity of Parkour – elitist art?
Danger/fear? A mundane building can suddenly be seen as an object of fear and intimidation