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Everyday aesthetics in action: Parkour eyes and the beauty of concrete walls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-173
Number of pages10
JournalEMOTION, SPACE AND SOCIETY
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

Parkour is a physical discipline practised in public and semi-public spaces, most often in urban environments. In this article, the potential of parkour to open up new perspectives on everyday surroundings will be considered. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which practitioners of parkour (traceurs) build unique and highly embodied relationships with their daily space. Emotions that they attach to their environments and their aesthetic appreciation of mundane surroundings will be explored. The interpretations are based on in-depth interviews with traceurs in two cities in Finland, Helsinki and Jyväskylä. For them, the most inspiring environments combine different heights with solid structures that provide a good grip. Concrete is considered the ideal material, and suburban landscapes, which are often thought of as boring or even ugly by other urban dwellers, are highly valued among traceurs. Traceurs speak of 'parkour eyes', a specific way of looking; gradually, places which have not previously been seen as attractive or appealing start to reveal interesting details and opportunities for inventive practice. Although parkour does not leave any physical traces on the environment, it has the potential to make mundane environments visible as well as to reveal some of the aesthetic potential imbedded therein. In doing so, parkour questions established ideas of interesting and valuable environments and reassesses the aesthetic values of our everyday environments.

Keywords

  • Everyday Aesthetics, Everyday environment, Parkour, Parkour eyes, Sense of place, Urban environment