Monday, August 12, 2013

A Way It Could Be

How about a bit of utopianism for Monday morning? Maybe with skateboarding?

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Here’s the deal. If you spend an hour with this 11-video oral history of skateboarding photography by photographer Andrew Norton, the minimum benefit you’ll derive is an hour spent with some extremely elegant and captivating photographs, described by their creators. And if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you’ll probably see something you once had taped to a locker or a Trapper Keeper. That’s worth an hour right there, even if you didn’t ever skate.

If you’re in the YA racket, though, I think this series offers even more: a vision of how to make art (and money—all of these guys are making a living) that appeals predominantly to young people—particularly teenagers—without being explicitly concerned with what those young people want, what’s right/appropriate/appealing “for” them, etc.

These artists are literally and figuratively subject focused. They’re trying to great work with the creative material at hand, and even though that material is incredibly fluid and dynamic, the quality of the work over the thirty-plus years covered in these videos is uniformly high. What a concept.

Watch these videos with this analogy held loosely in your mind: Skateboard photographer is to skateboarder as author is to character. 

(Photo of Chris Senn links to an ESPN piece on photographer Bryce Kaknights.)