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Skateboarders’ Representations of Materiality: A Case Study of Rodney Mullen and Spike Jonze

Skateboarders’ Representations of Materiality: A Case Study of Rodney Mullen and Spike Jonze Physical activity is commonly conceived of in terms of its human involvement – as a test of, and testament to, human ability. However, physical activity does not exist without the contributions of countless non-human agencies, such as equipment and environments, with which the athletes work closely and form relationships. As such, athletes have a unique understanding of non-human agency. In this article I analyse the power of non-human agency in skateboarding through the representations of the professional skateboarder Rodney Mullen and filmmaker Spike Jonze. I examine their lectures, interviews, and films to show the ways in which skateboarders experience, practice, and represent the principles of actor-network theory (ANT). Skateboarders utilise and manipulate the often-unanticipated potential of non-human tools and urban landscapes and translate them into a collaborative result. Skateboarding is a trial-and-error experiment of testing, innovating, and adapting possibilities and limitations set by a network of mediators including people and ‘things’. Mullen and Jonze commonly depict skateboarding as the product of networks rather than independent human action. Their representations reveal how skateboarders perceive and act out their role as humans within networks alongside non-human agencies such as skateboards and obstacles, and which combine to produce skateboarding. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Somatechnics Edinburgh University Press

Skateboarders’ Representations of Materiality: A Case Study of Rodney Mullen and Spike Jonze

Somatechnics , Volume 11 (3): 17 – Dec 1, 2021

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2044-0138
eISSN
2044-0146
DOI
10.3366/soma.2021.0365
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Physical activity is commonly conceived of in terms of its human involvement – as a test of, and testament to, human ability. However, physical activity does not exist without the contributions of countless non-human agencies, such as equipment and environments, with which the athletes work closely and form relationships. As such, athletes have a unique understanding of non-human agency. In this article I analyse the power of non-human agency in skateboarding through the representations of the professional skateboarder Rodney Mullen and filmmaker Spike Jonze. I examine their lectures, interviews, and films to show the ways in which skateboarders experience, practice, and represent the principles of actor-network theory (ANT). Skateboarders utilise and manipulate the often-unanticipated potential of non-human tools and urban landscapes and translate them into a collaborative result. Skateboarding is a trial-and-error experiment of testing, innovating, and adapting possibilities and limitations set by a network of mediators including people and ‘things’. Mullen and Jonze commonly depict skateboarding as the product of networks rather than independent human action. Their representations reveal how skateboarders perceive and act out their role as humans within networks alongside non-human agencies such as skateboards and obstacles, and which combine to produce skateboarding.

Journal

SomatechnicsEdinburgh University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2021

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