Rick Blackhart at the Yuvis Spillway (1980)
In the 1970’s the first generation of LA skaters set out to explore the urban landscape in order to find any possible type of architecture which resembled … the ocean! These pioneers came to my mind when I read about writer and photographer Michael Cook on BLDGBLOG, who explores similar architecture today.
Gary Swanson a.k.a. Swane decided his pool served better when it was drained and used for skating; others rode out with large groups in the suburbs looking for vacant houses with large, empty, kidney-shaped pools and organised illegal skating parties. Most exciting perhaps were those who went out of the city altogether and explored the outskirts for skating big dams, construction sites, underground pipes and draines, ie. the Yuvis Spillway and the Mount Baldy pipe.
I’m fascinated by the geographical representations of these terrains: sea and ocean waves. But also by the relation between the body, the board (= performance) and the terrain/architecture. Henri Lefebre puts it into beautiful terms:
The contribution of skateboarding to architecture lies in its performative, representational aspects – its spaces of representation – wherein skateboarders reimagine architectural space and thereby recreate both it and themselves into super-architectural space.
I think the reinvention and redefining of this space is no less than the very basis of creativity.
These things came back to me today when I read an article about the urban explorer Michael Cook on BLDGBLOG, who explores the same kind of architecture. He writes articles about these explorations and takes beautiful photographs. I like the resemblance of these walks to the theory of the flaneur (coined by Baudelaire), who first explored the city for leisure and experience rather than for practical purposes. And so does Cook with hidden structures like underground pipes. Gorgeous photos and a bit of a ‘Logan’s run‘ feeling; many of the pipes surface in fantastic nature sceneries.
More about skate architecture:
Skateboarding, space and the city – Iain Borden
Dogtown: documentary about the first generation of LA skaters.