We sure are living in strange times. Skateboarding is increasingly leaning towards the mainstream, for better and for worse, and video technology has developed to a point where everyone and their mother can afford a 4K HD camera. The law of physics states that every action provokes a reaction, and while we’re no Einsteins, it’s pretty obvious that this applies to skateboarding as well. Some companies have built their whole marketing strategy on de-technologization, if that exists, and have deliberately focused on an aesthetic that simulates low production value, almost as to counteract the inevitable: progress. It’s not a bad thing per se, but it certainly shows a degree of retro-fiction trying to re-imagine a time when things were supposedly simpler, more authentic and less commercialized. Again, we’re not trying to criticize: if anything, the action-reaction pattern leads to world of diversity.
Such diversity becomes evident when we’re looking at brands like Öctagon. The small French company has created something unique, something that sets its apart from the grainy VHS look that still sits firmly on the throne of skateboarding aesthetics. Their new video, Perceptiön, embraces state-of-the-art technology – in a dialectic way. While the images are crystal-clear, they’re often interrupted by stylized glitches that seem to tear up the otherwise perfect frame. Like the whole video, the impressive shots of modern architecture are held in black-and-white as to contrast modernity with the simplicity of the past. It is as if the high b/w contrast was a visual metaphor for the heterogeneity of skateboarding itself. It’s always pushing forward, and yet it seeks to retain the rawness of the good old times. The dialectic of skateboarding is even evident in the tricks: they’re skating the fucking Louvre’s pyramids, for God’s sake. High art and skateboarding – what has been tried by other brands rather desperately, Öctagon unites with a playfulness that’s really refreshing. Additionally, the video’s soundtrack is unlike anything we’ve heard in recent years. It’s not hip hop, and it’s certainly no boring indie rock – it’s hardcore electronic. Reminiscent of IDM bands like Autechre, Perceptiön’s soundtrack is as futuristic as its imagery. In conclusion, if old-timey VHS looks were the reaction to high-end skateboarding videos, Perceptiön is a reaction to this retro-fiction, and we freaking love it. All in all, it’s a great little flick and worth your time.
Equally nice to look at is their new drop that has just arrived at our doorsteps: the sweaters and the T-shirts come in the usual black and white and, of course, with large-scale back prints. One depicts the brand’s octagon logo, while the other one is an optical illusion: a rectangle of seemingly equally-sized dots reveal the brand’s name as well as some ASCII signs when looked at from a distance (or if you’re really good at squinting your eyes). Don’t ask us how it works. We told you we’re no Einsteins.