Friday, August 12, 2011

Marketing Spatial Construction - Lappset finds fertile reception in Australia

Logan City Council has built a parkour park out of the Lappset line of modular playground equiptment. Grace Lutheran College already has one, but it is a private facility and this is the first public facility in Australia. Lappsett are currently the only equiptment provider who makes this stuff specifically marketed for 'parkour' applications. I could understand that the Lappset product provides a percieved ability to novate risk for councils if someone injures themselves. Aside from this, it is important to note that products and marketing effect culture (ie: Adidas and RUNDMC). So far the only brands to successfully market to traceurs has been a few shoe companies (feivue and 5-10's etc). Otherwise a defining feature of parkour culture is it's ability to exist sans-consumerism. In line with the previous post about possible new characteristics to define cultural revolution, it would appear that sans-consumer or post-consumer engagement with life, space, systems and people are imperitive to avoid the cultural and social conflicts we have seen recently.

I find the power in parkour is to asert yourself in the found environment. Not to have someone make something for you so that you can consume it. The parkour lessons and the parkour philosophy cannot be learnt when it's done on equiptment to be consumed. You have to assert your existence and your purpose upon the latent found environment which subjugates you daily. You have to identify the limits which space and form and oppression put on you, the spaces and forms and limits that wear you down daily, and then you defy it with creative and beautiful movement. You create/hack/iterate your own reality, and fly over the obstacles and limits which you can identify for youreself in your own struggle daily.

If you wait for someone to create a limit for you, which you ask for in the first place, so that you can do cool looking calisthenic and isometric exercises over, it's not parkour. It's just cool looking calisthenics. Parkour is something that you develop in your mind through the exercise, and then continues to play out in your mind changing the way you view the world in everything you do. This is why it is a 'discipline' and not a sport or fitness fad like 'body pump'. And you cannot understand the discipline unless you move.

As a friend told me recently after her first day: "I will never see the city the same way again". It is a common sentiment. And this is why. This can't occur on Lappsett gear that's marketed to you.

So don't wait for someone to build one in a park for you. Find a limit right now. That you can see in front of you, that effects you everday, and overcome it creatively and beautifully. And practice it until it becomes second nature, and you can't view the world without seeing creative and beautiful possibility upon every limitation that once oppressed you.

Like some may view an abundance of welfare as disposessing people from the capacity and means of self-determinancy and self-motivation (and from the wider lanscape in general), a shift in consumer marketing towards the parkour aspirations of the youth and the city may well disposess traceurs and traceur-aspirants of the power, spirit and motivation which the discipline gives so abundantly in it's current form.

In the same way that I don't think that welfare is bad, I don't think that Lappset is bad... but when and if people begin to rely upon it for their motivation to move, and wait for a product (which they may or may not be able to afford) arrive before they assert their own power, grace and belonging amongst the people, spaces and systems that comprise the city.

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