For some time I have been watching a trend emerge; a meme and theme that resonates within me. Recently I’ve witnessed it progress from conception to creativity concrete reality, and now the evidence abounds. While I inevitably and unavoidably turn to the wilderness to find my peace and beauty, I am grudgingly but increasingly forced to admit that it can be found closer to home. What am I harping on about? Parkour.
Parkour has been around for a long time, but has emerged so gradually into our modern lexicon that most people can’t remember first seeing it. That it has become embedded in our culture is inarguable: compare a classic Connery era Bond movie with the latest Craig incarnation and you will see realise the significance. Although originally based on the undeniably Francophone principles of simplicity and elegance of movement, even true parkour traceurs will no doubt admit that the interpretation of movement through the environment enouraged by the offshoot ‘free running’ enrich and enhance the activity. To me, parkour/free running embodies an innate urge to embrace our wildness, and is a natural expression of human animals seeking fulfilment within the bounds created by an urban environment.
There are plenty of examples of individuals aspiring to “GoPro/YouTube Hero” status out there in the internet ether, but I am recently and deeply encouraged by the emergence of films that not only celebrate the athleticism and courage of the participants but also the beauty to be found in the concrete jungle: the urban fringe not distant on the basis of distance itself but rough through it’s edginess rather than just being on the edge. You are familiar with the concept: often the most innercity and developed areas are the least human. Despite this, the traceurs and cinematographers have brought movement, life and fluidity to our most stale structures; flow in our concrete fondament. I myself am trapped in a daily cycle of urban living, longing for the release and vibrancy of the wild; when I watch this breed of film I am renewed by the wild beauty to be found in our ‘tamed’ surrounds.
Is this a sport, a lifestyle… or our newest and most visceral form of dance?