SHADOWORLD – George Manos
« One must not explain this art in obscure words only ; on the other hand, one must not explain it so clearly that all may understand it. I therefore teach it in such a way that nothing will remain hidden to the wise man, even though it may strike mediocre minds as quite obscure ; the foolish and the ignorant, for their part, will understand none of it at all… » – Geber, Summa
A few months ago, we released Shadoworld by George Manos. Some liked it, some did not, that’s OK.
Now I don’t usually do this but I have to stand for George’s work because in some places the video was simply ignored and brushed aside. I think that tells a lot about the world we live in. I know how much George worked on this one : more than on anything he did before. I will also put forward that it shows his best riding to date. But there seems to be such an orthodoxy these days when it comes to what supposedly makes a good video, that anything on the verge of experimentation (for the lack of a better word), not fitting any popular category in the BMX media or worse, that may scare the masses (!) has serious chances to fall into the trap door. Ignored, Judged and Cast down—like the Thou song says…
When Geber—a spanish alchemist of the 14th century—wrote these words, little did he know that seven centuries later it would completely echo what a BMX flatland rider living in a small city cornered in the north mountains of Greece feels about sharing his creations on his bicycle with his contemporaries.
The atmosphere in Shadoworld is heavy. George would make it clear with you that the weather up in Ioannina has more to do with London’s or Stockholm’s than Athens’. He also believes that his environment shaped his personality and led him to the music he likes. The Corpsessed tracks he used for this video would be out of place in anyone else’s video but with George, death metal of the darkest kind simply makes the picture complete.
In some clips, the focus is on George’s silhouette moving on the edge of the dark which can make the subtleties of his footwork unclear—but that’s the whole point of these ghostly clips : beautiful and captivating deep layers of black in the picture, contrasting strongly with bright halos and zones of artificial light. I love when his white (hooded) face and hands holding the bars come out of the black background to start a move. Grimy and powerful at the same time. Look again.
George is out there when no one else is, haunting the dark corners of the back of an industrial building only to appear clearly the next second as a living (livid?) entity in the light and as one of the most unique riders ever. Are we so used to watch crystal clear riding footage that anything that is not can’t count anymore ? Yet, this is truly unique.
We are all moving a certain way on our bike. It involves body gesture whether we like it or not. It’s a part of it and it’s rarely being focused on. As a matter of fact, I feel that these few unusual dark clips bring out George’s body mobility around his bike and within a certain space more than anything 1080p filmed daytime. True, there are a couple clips where we barely see his feet walking and jumping around his bike but what we can see is a silhouette drawing a unique rythmic line out of the shadow, like a signature captured in the flow of its writing process on a chalk board.
These unorthodox clips are in fact very few compared to a majority of « clear » clips but they made people talk. In this time of « everything right now », that a rider may represent himself in a way that at times doesn’t seem complete for it doesn’t meet mainstream standards, is not acceptable… But Shadoworld is no Facebook nor Instagram, much less a webcam or anything else that makes your life more transparent these days, it’s a fucking piece of art and like all good pieces of art, it took a lot of effort to be produced, it implied pain and joy—madness, and it may as well take a little effort to be appreciated to its real value—and more than a smartphone screen to be watched.
Here, the skills and the techniques’ sole reason to be is to serve the realization of a rider’s ideas, the culmination of an emotional and expressive process and should not be mistaken as the goal. Nevertheless, it’s also certainly time to realize that yes, technically, when it comes to riding without pegs, George is on his lonesome path, years ahead of us, only using his very personal skills to move his art forward and consequently subject to being misunderstood. According to Geber, he’s at peace with that.
With a well-crafted inimitable atmosphere, Shadoworld takes the viewer straight into George’s world, his passion and how he survives his context by producing some of the most artistically ambitious and uncompromising riding to date.
Thank you Giorgos.