Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • [ Music ]

  • [ Applause ]

  • >> So I love parkour because I love to study cities,

  • and I love to study exactly how we learn how

  • to behave in cities.

  • [ Music ]

  • [ Laughter ]

  • So that's parkour, just a little hint

  • of what you just saw is parkour.

  • So, one of the things I really am passionate about,

  • one of the things I really love to, to learn about is,

  • like I said, the rules that we sort of learn and how,

  • expectations of behavior in city space.

  • And I think parkour directly kind of challenges that.

  • Sort of points to it as arbitrary,

  • because there's nothing necessarily natural

  • about a sidewalk, per se, right?

  • We sort of make the rules on what these things mean.

  • And so I think parkour can teach us a lot about city space

  • and kind of how to look at it differently.

  • And one of my favorite places to do parkour is

  • in Indianapolis, I grew up outside of Indianapolis,

  • and this is a parking garage right on the corner

  • of Michigan Street and Alabama,

  • and it's set up perfectly for, for parkour, which, you know,

  • isn't it's intended use, but we have [laughter],

  • I have this wonderful space inside, just to give you an idea

  • of what it looks like, and so I'm running up the,

  • up the stairs and I'm sort of vaulting from rail

  • to rail and, you know, you can feel the materials,

  • you can feel the concrete, and it's kind of slick and dusty

  • and oddly cold, and I'm making way up to the roof,

  • and these guys sort of look at me, as I'm there that day,

  • and they look at me really strange, like, you know,

  • what's this guy doing?

  • Is he sort of out of his mind?

  • And the reason those looks come about is

  • because there's nothing, or the,

  • the expectation of that space and the behavior that you sort

  • of expect to see that, that violates that script,

  • like we see the stairs, we see the parking garage,

  • and we sort of know what's supposed to happen, right?

  • And parkour looks odd, because it's at odds

  • or it's incongruent with the rules that we sort

  • of made up for that space .

  • So I make my way up to the roof and I sort of look

  • over Indianapolis and I'm looking over Mass Ave.

  • and the sort of the, the arts and cultural district

  • of that section of the city.

  • Indianapolis is set up on an X,

  • and in the middle is a circle,

  • it's what I call the Circle City.

  • And you can see that kind of that, that planned space,

  • and you look over and you can, and, and the city just looks

  • like a, like a playground,

  • and it looks like you can just do anything you want.

  • And part of the reason is is because, traceurs,

  • the people who do parkour,

  • they develop what they call a parkour vision.

  • And if we see the, the picture here is the example.

  • That red arrow shows us, like, that's the walkway,

  • you're supposed to go down that walkway,

  • and you have the wall here and you have the building here,

  • and conventional wisdom sort of tells you

  • that you're supposed to take that, you see that, it's a,

  • it's a visible knowledge of space and it just makes sense

  • to go that direction.

  • But with parkour, you have the, the parkour vision

  • and you have options.

  • So you can kick off the wall and you can grab the other wall

  • and climb up, and you see the guy jumping from roof to roof,

  • and some of our bodies and our minds won't let us do that,

  • but it, it does give us options

  • and ways we can see space differently.

  • And so parkour was developed circa 80's-ish,

  • to give you an exact date, so, David Belle,

  • the guy here in the, in the picture,

  • he was the founder of parkour and was built on the maxim

  • to be useful to be strong.

  • Or, I'm sorry, be strong to be useful.

  • And he developed it as an art of motion,

  • or an art of movement, that helps you get through or,

  • or pass any obstacle in your path.

  • And the idea is to get from point A, excuse me,

  • to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • And just like you, you develop your body in parkour,

  • you develop your body to be strong, to be fit and flexible,

  • and adaptable, but just like you develop your body

  • in parkour, you also develop your mind.

  • So there's a very spiritual component to parkour,

  • and once you, once you've trained your body,

  • the idea for the traceur is that you,

  • you sort of have to train the mind to, to go along with it.

  • So you develop the mental, the mental strength as well

  • as the physical strength.

  • So, just like if you're, if you,

  • you see the gap from the roof to the roof

  • and your body tells you, like, don't jump, you know,

  • unless you're, unless you're like on the Grand Canyon

  • and then your body tells you to jump,

  • oddly enough [laughter].

  • So, in parkour, you see the roof and the other roof,

  • and you're like I don't know if I can make the gap

  • and so you've got this fear going,

  • but you've trained to mind and your body to work together,

  • to sort of culminate in this wonderful traceur thing,

  • and you jump the roof and, and,

  • and that fear is part of the experience, right?

  • And overcoming that obstacle,

  • fear is just like overcoming the obstacle,

  • the physical obstacle.

  • And so, you, the, the idea for the traceur is

  • that if you can sort of come to grips with that fear

  • and get over mental obstacles,

  • that can translate into other aspects of your life as well.

  • So if you're afraid to, say, give a talk to a room full

  • of 1,000 people while you're on camera, right,

  • it can help you do that too [laughter].

  • And so, traceurs have a very intimate relationship with,

  • with space and architecture.

  • And the reason being is that, you know,

  • you're connected to it, parkourily they're connected to it,

  • and they feel it, and they're in it and they work with it,

  • and architecture communicates to them the types of moves

  • or the types of behaviors that it, it will require for them

  • to move through that environment.

  • So if they're in a more tight-knit space, for example,

  • there's going to be more climbing,

  • more vaulting for height instead of for length.

  • And if they're in a more loose space or more open space,

  • it's going to require more running and more jumping

  • across gaps, or what you see here is a pre,

  • excuse me, a precision jump.

  • And so if you think about how architecture communicates

  • with a traceur, just like, or,

  • or communicates to us as well, in that it'll,

  • it'll communicate sort of expected behaviors.

  • So if you think about a tight-knit urban space,

  • it's going to, to require different sort of interactions,

  • or invite different interactions in a more loose space

  • or more open space, like a rural environment.

  • And the more, the more that we have those interactions,

  • the more it develops a kind of, of a value,

  • or an expectation of behavior.

  • And in the way that those spaces are,

  • are set up will inform or, or give us an expectation

  • of how we're, we're supposed to interact.

  • And so these spaces are designed intentionally

  • to give us experiences,

  • or designed to sort of elicit certain experiences from us.

  • Here's an example in France at a museum where, you know,

  • the space, itself, is intended to,

  • to give you access to the museum, and you're intended to,

  • to go there and experience it in that way,

  • and they're saying formally,

  • like if you're going to go counter to this experience

  • of how we have it set up, then we're not responsible,

  • essentially, for that, that out of the norm behavior.

  • Excuse me.

  • And so city spaces are designed to get us

  • to do all kinds of things.

  • So we see the, the signs and the symbolage [phonetic],

  • we have the street and the sidewalks and all of those,

  • those things are sort of put together

  • to give us a shared sensibility of the space,

  • and so we all kind of have this, this,

  • this shared sense of how to use it, and the,

  • the behaviors are expected, and often times these,

  • these expectations and,

  • and how they're set up are most visible

  • when they're violated.

  • So if you see someone standing in the middle of the street,

  • for example, that looks odd,

  • or it looks at odds with our rational thoughts,

  • or what we've come to know as rational thoughts.

  • If you see someone sitting in the middle of the sidewalk,

  • you know, like we're trying to walk down this sidewalk,

  • it doesn't make any sense, it's counter to what we expect

  • of that space, and so we have,

  • the cities are set up to get us to do certain things,

  • access functions, and, and they come, they,

  • they develop expectations of how to, to use it.

  • And one of the, the best examples

  • of how city space has been designed specifically

  • to impact behavior is if we look at Old France.

  • So, pre-Napoleon the third,

  • Old France is sort of capricious,

  • the streets don't make much sense, they're tiny,

  • they're muddy, they're easily barricaded,

  • which is really the problem,

  • so if you don't like what the state is doing,

  • you can barricade and you can revolt, right?

  • So Napoleon comes in and he says,

  • we're going to barricade-proof Paris.

  • So he commissions the, the gutting, essentially,

  • of the downtown area, and they really just wipe

  • out all these streets

  • and they make these incredibly wide boulevards.

  • Specifically to, number one, it sanitizes the space,

  • so disease isn't as rampant, so it has some benefits,

  • but also it's easier to get an army straight down the street

  • to squash any kind of revolution you might try.

  • And the, the boulevards are wide enough

  • that it's really almost impossible

  • to barricade essentially four lanes of traffic,

  • but we see this closer to home too, and Robert Moses who,

  • who was in charge of much of the planning for New York City,

  • specifically the access to the parks,

  • the way that parks were designed and access to them.

  • He designs the bridges on the Long Island Parkway

  • to be a little bit lower

  • so that commuter buses had a hard time

  • or difficult time accessing those parks.

  • So the idea was that, at the time,

  • the commuter buses carried low income and minority groups,

  • so it made it really difficult for them to access the parks,

  • and so, you have this sort of discipline by designer,

  • this discrimination by design without formally saying

  • like you guys can't come here,

  • and we see this at an individual level as well.

  • Here's something we have on campus,

  • these are called pig ears, and it's a,

  • it's a design technique that they put on,

  • on walls like this so people can't skateboard

  • and rail down the wall, but it serves a dual function too,

  • because the pig ear makes it uncomfortable to sit there,

  • and it also makes it uncomfortable to lay there, so,

  • you can't skateboard and it also is designed

  • to keep people moving.

  • Here's another thing we have on campus,

  • it's called a baroque enclosure, and this is to keep people

  • out of the nuclear reactor, but it has [laughter],

  • the fence sort of has this daunting arch back this way,

  • and you know the spikes, and there's, you know,

  • physical consequences if you get into that fence.

  • And you see this a lot in city space though.

  • It's designed to kind of blend into the environment,

  • and they use it for protecting the trash behind restaurants

  • and they call it bum proofing,

  • meaning that the homeless can't go and dig in the trash,

  • and what that does is the people coming in the front

  • of the restaurant feel more comfortable to spend money.