Considering the great enigmas of mankind, the mystery surrounding Öctagon is among the most challenging. Little is known about the small French skateboarding company that started out by selling branded bolts. Yet, thanks to their minimalistic but recognizable design and their futuristic videos, everyone’s talking about it. Öctagon have stirred up the skateboarding world which, honestly, has been content to see itself through the filter of grainy VX footage for the last couple of years. In times when skateboarding seems to be preoccupied with its past, Öctagon points to the future. In order to bring light into the darkness, your trusted private eyes from Bonkers have dialed into the matrix to investigate the Öctagon system. Coming out of the rabbit hole, this is what we found out.
Admittedly, looking through Öctagon’s crystal ball doesn’t necessarily show us a bright future. The videos are filmed in razor-sharp HD, which by itself would have sufficed to be a distinguishing feature. But it’s not so much the picture’s resolution by itself drawing our attention; it’s the uncanny combination of architecture, lighting and movement that’s really impressive. Filmed in black and white, Öctagon’s videos focus on urban architecture: the dazzling composition of towering skyscrapers, brutalist buildings, and gigantic glass facades are daunting backdrops for the skateboarding that happens within the cityscape. In their video Perceptiön, for example, the individual skateboarder is positioned in striking contrast to the futuristic, yet strangely lifeless backdrop of modern structures. Skateboarding in the octagonal world, as a result, appears to be a twofold activity: on the one hand, it’s the organic antithesis to the inorganic. It is movement opposing immobility. On the other, skateboarding itself becomes part of the architecture, using it as some sort of canvas for its own purposes, thus redefining the way the viewer perceives the city.
This dialectic art direction is corresponding perfectly to the Öctagon narrative, which is that the Öctagon is not so much a skateboarding company, but rather a system. And a totalitarian one, for that matter. The Öctagon system is all-seeing, much like the armada of security cameras silently monitoring everything that lives within the modern city. It registers every movement of the skateboarders trapped within it. Yet, it provides the space for skateboarding to subsist even within the most totalitarian of architectures.
Perceptiön, one of Öctagon’s most popular videos, then makes ample use of post-production glitches, mirroring the tense relationship of skateboarding and the city on a visual level. When we read the crisp HD images as a parallel to the pristine corpus of glass, concrete and stainless steel, the glitches in the video indicate the disruption of visual perfection just like skateboarding violates the sacrosanct architecture that was intended for anything else but being ripped to shreds by skateboarding. Considering the soundtrack, the use of electronic music throughout Öctagon’s videos further emphasizes the disconcerting opposition of inanimate artifacts (after all, electronic music is made by a lifeless machine) and human interaction.
So then, what is Öctagon? There is no short answer, much less a definitive one. Like modern, digitalized life itself, the Öctagon system is a complex web of interactions: movement acts within immobility, totalitarianism acts against rebellion, defectiveness disturbs immaculacy. As good old Karl Marx once said: Being determines consciousness. Being a skateboarder enables a different perception of and thus a different action within the world. Nowhere is this more evident than within the Öctagon system.
Trapped within the Öctagon system are:
– Joseph Biais (FR), Rémy Taveira (FR), Valentin Bauer (FR), Florian Merten (FR), Bram De Cleen (BE) and Yeelen Moens (BE).
Check out Öctagon’s new video “Meta” which includes plenty of footage from Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main-Area.