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Surf Video Reviews

Landscape Altered Review

“I think time is up. The Internet has taken over [DVD], it really has.”

These are the words of Kai Neville during an interview at the premiere of his previous film Modern Collective.

The four part webisodic series Landscape Altered by Kai Neville brings forth not only documentation of modern surfing but the format of surf videos as an online medium. Landscape Altered features a pack of young surf-stars on a chartered boat through the Mentawai Islands, all with the same motive: “…to stomp one massive air” for the Kustom Air Strike $50,000 prize for the best single air.

The whole Landscape Altered series is packed with visual surfing seduction at its finest. It’s all shot on high definition video, which really brings out some true cliché imagery of Indonesia. The idealized land and seascapes set a strong platform to expose the mind-blowing modern surfing with standouts Chris ‘Chippa’ Wilson who was throwing some seriously technical aerials and Clay Marzo with smooth, stylish yet wild turns. The video is undoubtedly about pushing the boundaries in aerial free-surfing. The intentions of capturing progressive surfing were clear by focusing on the surfers and only minor attention drawn to the local geography–besides the token tropical postcard shot. The surfers were essentially there on business. If they weren’t ripping in the water they were feeding on the boat. The boat lifestyle seemed quite removed from life on land, which in combination with the focus of $50,000 created a very superficial experience of the Mentawai Islands.

What I find more interesting than the content of the Landscape Altered is the location of the final product; online instead of DVD. This is one of the first surfing videos to adopt the online format. In this case, the whole series is hosted on the free-to-use video sharing site Vimeo. The importance here is similar to the invention of the home movie camera.  Any grom can conceivably make a video and have a financially feasible exhibition space right here on Vimeo. It follows the struggle print magazines face with the over-saturated internet facilitating a more accessible free and easy place to get information. The distribution of the video can be passed around Facebook, blogs, email and other viral online social networking sites to reach a wider market. Currently Episode One of Landscape Altered has had over 56,100 views on one Vimeo account. Note that the viral nature of the internet allows more than one upload of a video therefore Landscape Altered has been published not only by Kai Neville on Vimeo but by Kustom and further onto YouTube by fans or members of the online surf industry.

Again the words from the director Kai Neville “It sucks, but I am a victim, I download them [surf videos] illegally”.

This internet media frenzy we live in is our culture, embrace it. There will still be a place in the cupboard for the ancient DVD which the grandchildren will find funny.

To see all episodes of Landscape Altered, visit the Kustom Airstrike website.

Landscape Altered – Episode 1 from Kai Neville Studio on Vimeo.


Ted Whitaker

Ted is an artist, filmmaker and surfer. He surfs any craft from retro twin, log and shortboards. His favorite New Zealand bird is the Kakapo.
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13 years ago

My favorite New Zealand bird, hands down, is the Kea!

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