It’s already been a year since daredevil, stuntman and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner leapt out of a hot air balloon some 24 miles off the ground plummeted at speeds surpassing Mach 1 (761.2 mph or 1225 km/h) back to Earth. The team over at Redbull Stratos finally released footage from the stunt, capturing the view from multiple angles. Ridiculous. (via kottke)
This fantastic bit of filmmaking blends music video and documentary in a new clip for British rock group Django Django’s 2010 track WOR. The subjects of the video are Allahabad’s Well of Death riders who risk life and limb daily to earn money at local melas (fairs) by driving cars and motorcycles inside a temporary cylindrical structure about 25 feet high and 30 feet across. The cars are held in the air by centripetal force and needless to say there’s very little room for error. The Well of Death is extremely risky for both performers and audience members, but regardless, it frequently draws a huge crowd as evidenced in this video. Directed by Jim Demuth, based on an original concept by Vincent Neff. More music video documentaries, please. (via Vimeo)
For the last several years photographer Chris Arnade has virtually embedded himself in an area of the South Bronx called Hunts Point, one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, where poverty and addiction has laid claim to countless struggling individuals. His unflinching and candid documentation of addicts and prostitutes in Hunts Point, Faces of Addiction (warning: graphic and occasionally nsfw), has gained international attention.
One individual Arnade has encountered over the years is a young resident named Jose Garcia, who, along with several of his friends, have a penchant for doing wildly dangerous jumps and flips off of high platforms such as broken-down trucks or buildings. The spectacular photos have grown into a small offshoot of his Hunts Point work called Jose the Amazing. Of his first encounter with Jose, Arnade shares:
Last year I was in a desolate part of Hunts Point, talking to a friend. A group of about ten teenagers came down the street, loud, filled with energy, and seemingly marauding (kicking over cones, jumping on and over stationary cars, etc). I have never had a problem in my twenty years in New York City, but that does not mean I don’t stay aware. As they passed, out of the corner of my eye I spotted Jose do a back flip over a hydrant. Amazed, I yelled out to him. He and his friends, who were also warily eyeing me, thinking I was a cop, were planning to run away but his friend Henry had a sprained ankle, so they stood their ground.
Since then I have come to grow very fond of Jose and his friends, and have done many photo shoots together. Big fans of Parkour, Hip-hop, and Anime, they are fighting against an area where the pressures of poverty, drugs, and limited opportunity weigh heavily.
For me it’s another lesson in expectations. All of my accumulated baggage from popular culture signaled for me to get away from these kids and their bad intentions, all theirs told them to get away from the cop who would treat them unfairly. Neither of us did that, and because of that I certainly have learned a bit more about the Bronx.
As often happens with documentary work like this, Arnade occasionally finds himself drawn into his subjects’ lives as he is unable to walk away after setting down the camera. One such person is Jose, who is filled with optimism, energy and possesses an uncanny physical ability, but is now dealing with extreme adversity. While putting together these photographs Arnade mentioned if anyone connected to any form of acrobatics, circus arts, or stunt work in the NYC area might know of a way to help, they can get in touch. Serious inquiries only. All photos courtesy the photographer.
In this amazing clip, acro paragliding pilot Gill Schneider teamed up with his father’s circus class to mix juggling, trapeze and other circus arts with paragliding. The whole video is fun to watch as you learn a bit about Sheneider’s love for flying and see some more ground-based interactions between himself and the class, but around 2:30 things suddenly escalate when he takes trapeze artist Roxane Giliand up in the sky above France for some nail-biting acrobatics. You can see more photos of the circus here. Video shot and directed by Shams Prod.
The folks over at Redbull (previously for cranberry bog wakeboarding) are currently holding a photography competition called Red Bull Illume which is billed as “the world’s premier international photography competition dedicated to the world of action and adventure sports.” One of the latest entries to the competition is this awesome set of photos captured by photographer and light painter Patrick Rochon in conjunction with Snap! Orlando who brought on a team of wakeboarders including Mike Dowdy, Adam Errington, and Dallas Friday. The trio rode special wakeboards affixed with LEDs designed by Snap! while Rochon shot from the shore. You can read more over on Redbull Illume, and for more illuminated hijinx check out L.E.D Wakeboarding by Jacob Sutton. (via we seek)
You’ve probably seen photographs of the Concurs de Castells, the human tower competition held in the region of Catalonia, Spain, but photographer David Oliete got a pretty unique perspective in 2012, shooting the entire event at what appears to be a nearly aerial position. As the throngs of castellers—hundreds of men, women and even children—push forward in a claustrophobic mass to build their best human towers, biological shapes reminiscent of insects or even animal cells begin to form. Oliete shares with me via email about the competition:
The most important Human Tower Competition is called “Concurs de Castells” and it takes place in the city of Tarragona once every two years. Its XXIV edition took place during the 6th and 7th October 2012 with the participation of 32 teams from all around Catalonia and a live audience of more than 20,000 people. During the competition, the higher and difficult to build a tower is, the more points a team gets. Every human tower is usually between six and ten levels high. Teams are made of between 100 to 500 women and men. Young and light members form the top of the tower while heavier members form the base.
The “castells” have also been one of the most important cultural traditions in Catalonia for more than 200 years. “Strength, balance, courage and common sense” is their motto. In 2010, the castells were declared by UNESCO to be amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
You can see many more shots from Oliete’ shoot of the Concurs de Castells 2012 over on Flickr, and you can also catch up with him on Facebook. (via devid sketchbook)
In his photographic self-portrait series Struggle to Right Oneself, artist Kerry Skarbakka captures himself in moments of suspended peril: falling from trees, tumbling head over heels in painfully precarious falls, slipping nude in the shower, or teetering on the edge of a fateful leap from a railway bridge. In his artist statement Skarbakka references philosopher Martin Heidegger’s description of human existence as a process of perpetual falling, and the responsibility of each person to catch ourselves from our own uncertainty. He continues:
This photographic work is in response to this delicate state. It comprises a culmination of thought and emotion, a tying together of the threads of everything I perceive life has come to represent. It is my understanding and my perspective, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. It’s exploration resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the question of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Or what are the consequences of holding on?
Skarbakka says that he utilizes special climbing gear and other rigging to achieve each shot, but the final images are truly convincing if somewhat ambiguous. This too is on purpose, as the images are meant to leave the viewer questioning. Do they suggest we can fly? Do we fall? What happens when we land? See many more shots from the series over on his website. All images courtesy the artist. (via not shaking in the grass)
This is one of the more impressive full moon time-lapses films you’ll ever see. Directed by Mikey Schaefer and produced by adventure filmmaker Bryan Smith, this remarkable clip captures American free climber Dean Potter as he traverses a highline tied to Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park. To get the wild perspective Potter used a camera equipped with a Canon 800mm super telephoto lens positioned over a mile away. Beautiful.
Update: Several people have written to clarify that this is technically not a “time-lapse” film, as both the climber and moon are actually moving in real time, it’s only the magnification of the moon that seems to mimic similar films that capture it in motion. Fair enough.