Surfing Final Paper

Surfing Final Paper - Synthetic Surfing: An Exploration of...

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Synthetic Surfing: An Exploration of Surfing's Artificial Shift John Stacey III (Perm #7566409) History/Environmental Studies 103S – Final Paper Neushul / Westwick Due: June 12, 2009
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Contemporary society has found a synthetic substitute for almost every facet of life, from artificial hearts and lungs to oils and plastics, and the art of surfing and its surrounding culture has proven to be no different from the rest of the lineup. Once a cultural staple and sport that rested purely on the shoulders of nature, surfing has now been consumed by mass production, advertisements, and cooperations, with revenues and profits serving as the driving force behind the sports beating heart. From the attitude, lifestyle, and waves that are being ridden, down to the very board that connects surfers to mother natures powerful waves, surfing has been saturated with artificial components and is dramatically different from the foundation of natural power and beauty that is was long ago founded upon. The Board The surfboard, the most iconic image of surf culture, was once pulled almost directly from nature, however, contemporary society has shifted to mass produced and chemically molded surfboards, highlighting the sports artificial nature. When Captain Cook first stumbled upon the Hawaiian islands in 1778, surfing was a fantastic new discovery that European eyes had not yet seen (Lecture). One of Cook's officers, J. King wrote that the new style of wave riding that was observed in the Hawaiian island was far different from anything they had ever seen (Lecture), as the natives were standing up while riding the waves, utilizing wooden planks and altered tress, instead of simply laying their bodies upon the waves as was seen in other Polynesian areas. It was apparent that surfings roots rested in natural form, as the first boards were painstakingly carved from solid wood, weighing hundreds of pounds, taking time, effort, and dedication to produce and use (Lecture). However, over time, the surf board has made significant technological advances, and is now something that is created almost entirely out of chemical compounds and synthetic materials. Industrial production had one of the most profound influences on the surfboard, and during the 1950's and 1960's the surfboard shifted from a handcrafted piece of art to a mass produced product (Lecture). During this time period, the US was experiencing a period of postwar affluence and leisure,
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and the southern Californian defense and aviation industries were booming (Lecture). Bob Simmons, one of the most influential figures on the surfboards shift from natural to artificial (Lecture), was positioned at the very center of the aircraft industry. Simmons, who attended Cal Tech, specialized in mechanical engineering, hydrodynamics and hydraulics, and eventually became an employee of Douglas Aircraft (Lecture), and used the knowledge and skill that he had acquired in these fields to completely transform the surfboard. By integrating his scientific background with his passion for
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This note was uploaded on 10/18/2010 for the course HIST 103S taught by Professor Neushul during the Spring '10 term at UCSB.

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Surfing Final Paper - Synthetic Surfing: An Exploration of...

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