Shot on location in Bedford, UK from September 15-18, 2008, the week the global markets went into free fall, Jenny Rogers' PERFECT SURF is the global economic meltdown staged as a spectacle of competition in the world's largest wind tunnel.
Performed by the top free flyers from all over the world (Austria, Australia, England, France, Spain, South Africa & the U.S.), Wall Street becomes Surf City complete with the actual soundtrack from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that fateful week.
A modern experimental re-interpretation of the surf classic "The Endless Summer", PERFECT SURF completes the search for the perfect wave, endless summertime, and eternal youth through the alchemy of science & cinema-- paradise is found in the surf scene, in flight and the promise of the endless free fall—HAIR in AIR, beach party film meets sci-fi flick, CinemaScope meets HD digital video in the world’s largest wind tunnel.
Surfers, like traders in the Stock Market, are in pursuit of the unattainable perfect ride, the endless high that never ends. In 1975, Louis Turner and John Ash wrote in The Golden Hordes: International Tourism and the Pleasure Periphery, “In a world dominated by bureaucracies and machines, we are offered these destinations as retreats to a childlike world in which the sun always shines, and we can gratify all our desires.” Our modern equivalent to the sun-kissed destinations displayed in films like “The Endless Summer” has been the global marketplace and our self consuming desire for unattainable wealth as exemplified in the “go-go” days of stock market inflation, IPOs, and “economic prosperity” like waves of endless cycles of asset inflation, burst bubbles and their subsequent crashes to earth.
As a metaphor for existence, PERFECT SURF, suspends our bodies in space, free falling yet able to ride its currents. The film as reality, digitally encoded, also acts as a layer of time/space suspension capturing these movements that remain in limbo forever. The tunnel (the tube) is the liminal space. In a perfectly hermetically sealed tube where the wind is precisely calibrated to match your height and weight, one could conceivable fly or ride forever.
PERFECT SURF is a surf elegy for our modern age. It is surf without the romance- no water, no skin, no sand and no surfboards. We are all awash in this crisis of capital, one must sink or swim. Surf's up.
Taking as its jumping off point, the sport of bodyflight and the history of popular American cinema, PERFECT SURF utilizes the mediums of air and art to explore the relationship of the body in motion, filming the tunnel divers in free falls, riding waves of air like surfers on the open ocean.
Like hippies, or nomadic gypsies, tunnel divers are our modern surf bums. They travel around the world in search of the best waves, hitting the best tunnels, working as instructors in exchange for tunnel time. Bodyflight Bedford, where PERFECT SURF was shot, is the largest such wind tunnel facility in the world, measuring 16.25 feet at its diameter with a flight area of 26.25 feet tall. All the flyers agreed to participate in this piece in exchange for four glorious days of tunnel time.
Most vertical wind tunnels were originally constructed in the 1940's & 1950's by Defense Departments to study aircraft tolerances and extreme aerodynamic conditions. Today, these abandoned research facilities have seen new life as modern recreation centers where humans have at last realized a primal desire-- to fly.
I had received a $25,000 grant from the New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA) to fund the piece and assembled a team of the best skydivers in the world to meet me at the world’s largest wind tunnel. I met this global team--flyers from Austria, Australia, England, France, Spain, South Africa and the U.S. --in the U.K., and we had this incredible first day of art making inside the closed, free fall environment of the tunnel.
At the end of the first day of shooting, we emerged to find that capitalism had collapsed and global markets were in free fall. I was stunned to find that the initial conceptual idea for the piece was occurring quite literally all around us. World market corrections coincided with the filming of the piece over the course of that week. I feel really blessed to have been able to spend that week engaged in a joyous collaborative process of art making during a time of so much anxiety, fear and chaos.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?