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The Art in Parkour - Essay Example

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In the mid 1980's David Belle founded a new sport in France: Parkour. The idea behind this sport (also thought of as an art form, particularly by Belle himself) is to continue on in one direction, using smooth motions and not letting any physical objects get in the way…
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The Art in Parkour
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Download file to see previous pages Belle began Parkour when he was fifteen, and claims it was inspired by the ideas of the French physician George Hebert, who promoted the 'methode naturelle' (Grimsley 1961) of medical treatment. This focused on the pure benefits of exercise over other methods like drug treatment for simple illnesses and injuries. Belle took these principles and used them in his own fitness regime, which turned quickly into something of a post-modern art form in itself (Gire 2006). Post-modern art takes many ideas on board, but the main feature of this art form that is embodied in Parkour is the aspect of realism through another medium: "Reality itself founders in hyperrealism, the meticulous reduplication of the real, preferably through another, reproductive medium, such as photography" (Harrison et al 2003). Post-modern art deals with new and fresh takes on the reality all around us in the world. The question with Belle and Parkour is simple; is freerunning actually an art or merely a sport that has been copied by followers across the world
Van Esterik, Van Esterik and Miller describe an artist as someone who "may be revered and wealthy as individuals or groups, or stigmatized and economically marginal." (Van Esterik et al 2001). Overall, artists must use unique concepts or create new ideas from reality or already established forms of art; in this Belle certainly did succeed and can therefore be thought of as an artist and Parkour as the ultimate in post-modern art. Miles notes how the "forms and spaces of the city are at the heart of academic enquiry across a number of disciplines from architecture and planning to geography, sociology, cultural and media studies" (2000). People like David Belle and his followers have been enthralled by the stark reality that is the inner city, and this is what Parkour is based upon fundamentally (Pinch 2004). A similar remark can be made about skateboarding and its use of the city space in such a comprehensive, post-modern way. Iain Borden explains how skateboarders have taken a new look at their surroundings and discovered how to interact with them and take a real interest in all the elements of the city they live in. Borden challenges his readers to adopt the same way of thinking and to take a more hands on approach to the spaces in which they live (Borden 2001).
Nevertheless, it must be noted that Parkour is a dangerous art form, and many of its practitioners have sustained injury from its execution; Josephson mentions reknown Parkour practitioner Cris Burden in this vein, since he was the type of artist not only to use Parkour to express himself but other forms of self harm that were thought life threatening and uniquely shocking to American society (Josephson 1996). In fact, Parkour seems to attract the sort of artists looking for innovative and entirely shocking ways of drawing attention both to themselves and their ideas about societal ills. To overcome these dangers, a freerunner must posses "a good pair of sneakers, cat burglarlike agility and a lot of courage" (Washington Times 2004).
So what do freerunners feel they are getting out of Parkour The opinions are varied and very interesting to researchers like Western Mail writers who comment on how the art form is "graceful and strict" (2005) at the same time. Piers Hernu remarks that the jumps involved are difficult and dangerous, something ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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