In 2009, Alien Workshop released their fourth full-length video, Mind Field. Upon becoming widely circulated online, it was soon regarded as an artsy piece of shit—by me at least. The skating was great- for the most part- but I hated everything the video represented, which to me, was the blossoming hipster culture of the late 2000s. This overall hatred had much deeper roots than just Mind Field—but the video became an easy target, if for no reason other than the black and white shots of birds, and the two Animal Collective songs on the soundtrack.
At the time of Mind Field’s release, I was halfway through my freshman year of college, meaning that my friends and I were well into our journeys of developing new yet juvenile identities. This wasn’t without contrast among us: They started drinking; I didn’t. They started cuffing their pants; I didn’t. They listened to Animal Collective; I listened to Modest Mouse. Yes, their new tastes and behaviors annoyed me, but instead of focusing my passive-aggression on them, I found a new basin in which to funnel it—Mind Field.
Encouraged by the fact that Mind Field is rather easy to make fun of, I turned to my frequently-visited message boards and often chimed-in on any Mind Field related discussions.
“I love those shots of neat wind-up toys.” “I really like seeing those birds in the sky.” “Remember that cool, rotating ball of liquid mercury?” “There must be 15 keyboards in Jake Johnson’s song!” “Jason Dill’s hair is just so sick.”
It’s not uncommon for me to suddenly start loving something I once strongly hated. It’s likely that my Liberal Arts education began shaping my views of creative self-expression, because by semester’s end, my YouTube rotation began steadily featuring parts from Mind Field. I came to appreciate the nuisances of the non-skate-related visuals, and instead started thinking of Mind Field more so as a collective work of art. So much so, that I ended up seeking out a physical copy on eBay; paying a slight premium for what will someday be regarded as one of the best skate videos ever. It is perhaps of the most irony here that the two parts which feature Animal Collective songs have since become two of my favorites.
Pardon me, but I need to nerd out about a few things.
February 2009. Sitting in my dorm room, scouring every message board I knew of for a link to Alien Workshop’s newest video. A working link eventually led me to ask of my laptop, “What the fuck am I watching?” If anyone ever develops a hatred for Mind Field similar to the one I once had, it’s probably because of the intro. A bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace is in fact a bold choice, but unfortunately, it borders on total pretense. But for whatever twist of reason or taste, I’ve come to love the intro to Mind Field, and consider it to be my favorite skate video intro of all time.
This was Jake Johnson’s first “real” part, wasn’t it? It could have been due to a lack of expectations, but I remember the consensus being that he fucking killed it. Not only did he manage to help usher in a new approach to not only skating jersey barriers, but also wall-rides and power-skating in general. Maybe it’s just the nostalgic nod to Alien Workshop’s east-coast roots that makes this part so subtly special; or maybe it’s because Jake Johnson is just so good at skateboarding.
In 2009, Jason Dill was about to cross from the thresholds of relevance into that of obscurity, joining the likes of Carlos Ruiz and Matt Allen. To everyone’s benefit however, Mind Field was released.
If I am to truly serve my purpose of being a writer, then I owe it to the world to make the following confession: Jason Dill’s part features a song by Animal Collective, and I happen to love it. Gods be damned if it doesn’t just supercharge everything into another stratosphere. Chalk it up to another east-coast infused barrage of tricks and an “I don’t give a fuck what you think of my skating approach,” but this part will always remain as a personal favorite, with his ender holding a spot in my top five favorite tricks of all time.
Anthony Van Engelen does not look like a little boy, and neither do I. This simple fact is reason enough for me to set aside the time to watch any of his parts. If I ever dedicate myself to learning tailslide-to-noseslide variations, it’s because of his featurings of them in Mind Field.
This is without a doubt the heaviest part in Mind Field, and may be one of the heaviest of all time. While the skate world may never understand just why Heath Kirchart retired from skateboarding after the release of Mind Field, we can collectively embrace the glory this part left behind, even if it comes paired with a song by Morrissey.