Before I saw the combined Static IV and Static V, my knowledge of these videos was next to nothing. It was exciting to attend the premier of the fourth and final chapter put on by BC Surf and Sport and shown at the Post Theater at the University of Utah. The gesture was intended in equal parts as a parting salute for local skateboarder Jovi Bathemess as it was to premier the final installment of Josh Stewart’s idiosyncratic series of skate videos, Static. The folks at BC kicked off the double feature with a video part from Bathemess (who will be moving to Syracuse, NY soon) titled A Day in the Life, which follows him and his friends skating various spots in Salt Lake City proper in a segment filmed entirely in a day, as the name suggests.
The much-anticipated main event, Static IV, didn’t fail to impress. On a short list of official premier locations—which include Paris, London, LA—Salt Lake City’s event was nothing short of a success. It’s a beautiful thing for a small city to be part of such an awesome moment in skateboarding history. That our mild city doesn’t have any aspiring socialites looking to be seen at a hip event made the showing all the more special. Only those devoted to the skateboarding community attended.
Throughout his respected career as a videographer, Josh Stewart’s videos have become emblematic of the east coast flavor. His capstone features the same brand of creative skating that is to be expected of an auteur of his stature. Static IV and V features a line-up of heavy hitters. Among them are Jahmal Williams, Quim Cardona, Joel Meinholz, Pat Steiner, Yaje Popson and several other Static alumnae. In many ways, the videos pursue and expand on the same aesthetic as the three others that preceded them. Iconic shots of east coast cities like Philadelphia, D.C., and NYC feature greatly in the film. Sprawling lines (the skateboard ones), and a well thought out soundtrack (the Chinese zither lives!) also survived previous videos.
Over the years my own skateboarding has diminished, and my perspective on talent has dimmed as a result. But one needn’t be an ardent skate-nerd to appreciate Static 4 and 5 (or any of the other Statics, for that matter). The skating in this video is phenomenal. But what really elevates this video above most others is the marriage of the skating to everything else that goes into a good, honest video. Without overstepping my propensity as a brute, Stewart’s use of space and color to inform tricks makes these videos the visual equivalents of earworms—eyeworms or brainworms, maybe. Big luminous buildings manifest themselves in every clip, underscoring the relationship between skateboarder and city.
Although most of the spots in these videos are in cities far away, it is extremely important that youngsters are exposed to these styles of skating and personality. It happens all too often that important videos like this don’t get the viewership they deserve. But so goes the nature of the independent skate video, even in an era when every video is grossly accessible. I’m now dated because owning the physical copy of a skate video was once necessary. This film and its constituent parts will be someday scattered into the vortex of YouTube, but do yourself a favor and get a copy anyway.