Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did the Pre-Raphaelites surf?

There's some cultural anthropologists out there with too much overthinking time on their hands positing ideas like "surfing's infatuation with wood and the retro designs of the Golden Age parallels the Pre-Raphaelite's reaction to the industrial revolution and the emergence of the SteamPunk phenomenon".
Big call. Dirty big call.
Isn't it all just about cheap labour, using advertising and social media to create a demand and moving units so as to maximise profits? But lets hear them out.
As Britain lumbered inexorably towards the ecological wasteland and dehumanisation of the Industrial Revolution and it's climax with the complete devaluation of human life at the mercy of "misery technology" in the First World War, the Pre-Raphaelites constructed an artistic universe (and the occasional commune) in which medieval culture had always existed and Nature was to be revered and represented in colourful detail. The glorious past of the Italian renaissance could be invoked in dirty, grey, Industrial Revolution England.
Escapism and denial maybe, but bloody great masterpieces nonetheless.
Steve Miller from the Caloundra Mal Club showing
what a 50+ goofy footer can do with a tasty beachie.
And so we surfers are at the beach head again. The planet is getting buggered on a daily basis to feed our aspirations. Our leaders and the "free" press whip up xenophobic fear and hostility towards harmless souls fleeing hostile regimes - their lives devalued, their individualism reduced to a soundbite "swarms of boat people invading our shores". (Sounds like Botany Bay 1770 revisited)
And in some quarters of hipster cool, the shortboard was never invented, everybody free surfs for a living and let's all dress like 19th century sailors, with 21st century gadgets.
Which brings me to the SteamPunk movement.
The SteamPunk movement takes these notions to the extreme and posits an alternative history where the internal combustion engine never happened and steam driven technology evolved and mashed with art, fashion and music. And yes Led Zeppelin's craft was real. Hobits existed.
If you're in SE Qld on the weekend, check out their two day SteamPunk exposition. Me, I'll be at the Wooden Surf Show not because of any infatuation with low-fi and past-tech, but as a matter of necessity - eventually we will all be riding wood instead of these petro-chemical projectiles of resin and foam. Might take a film camera.


  1. Awesome post and thoughts - thanks for sharing.

    Looks like thar'll be swell a-plenty for the weekend too, so there might be more boards in the water than on the grass!

    Happy sliding, sir.

  2. Humbled to hear such nice words, good Doctor