Monday, September 30, 2013

Kilian Martin: Altered Route

When I was in the 7th grade, I thought I could skateboard. I couldn't and still can't. I could manage a half-assed "ollie" or a sloppy "pop shove-it," but after wiping out while riding down a hill in Hamilton, Ohio - I was pretty much done with skateboarding. It's not as easy as all those clips in Bam Margera's CKY series, and countless other skateboard films my friends and I watched, made it look. As I went through high school and left my skateboard behind in the garage, my interests shifted towards photography, film and art. Skateboard films are a dime a dozen and get really repetitive after awhile, but occasionally you find one so beautifully filmed and uniquely composed that it's more than just a three minute highlight reel. The "Invisible Skateboards" clip from Girl's 2003 video "Yeah Right" is an example of this. Elegantly filmed, cleverly edited and set to a beautiful John Frusciante song, it's more than just skateboarding - it's something moving.

As my interests in photography grew, so did a desire to seek out and document abandoned places. In my mind, Urban Exploration is best documented through still images and in the depths of the internet you rarely find anyone who can capture the subtlety and beauty of an abandoned location with a video camera and moving images. Even in the world of skateboarding, good work is washed out by countless YouTube users uploading unedited, poorly shot garbage from their camera phones while they argue with one another. Every now and then, you find a diamond in the rough.

I was researching the now abandoned Lake Dolores/Rock-A-Hoola/Discovery Waterpark which sits out in the Mojave Desesrt of Southern California. What started out as a lakeside campground in the late 50's evolved into our modern day understanding of a "water park." The park closed in the late 80's, but was revived as the "Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark and Resort" in 1990. It lasted for awhile, but closed again, reopened as "Discovery Waterpark" and then closed one last time in 2004. Since then, the park still stands with its "retro" theming, heavily vandalized and with a lot of infrastructure missing. It's an easy location for Western Urban Explorers to visit and see, but I think filmmaker Brett Novak captured it best in 2012. In the above video, Kilian Martin performs some wild tricks across the water park's abandoned landscape. The film is shot at a beautiful time of day, features great composition and the editing is perfect. Martin's unique figure skater moves adapted for his skateboard blend well in slow motion in sequence with a dreary and moving Patrick Watson song while the film meshes with promotional videos from when the park was open.

The video is truly a work of art.

Over the years, several of QC/D's urban exploration stories have focused on abandoned amusement parks: View all of the stories


  1. What an awesome video. It is art. In the most rarefied and beautiful sense of the word. Great job.

  2. Agreed, it's a beautiful video and qualifies as "art." However, while I appreciate the "great job," I had nothing to do with this. I just really, really enjoy watching it. Even five years later or so.