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Primordial Energy in Arc’Teryx’s Creation Theory

In Creation Theory, the meaning of living and breathing meets the rhythm of creation and athleticism. It’s heady stuff but bare with us for a moment: Beyond the trappings of modern society and well-traveled paths lies each of our individual guiding forces. And to know and live amongst that guiding force is a precious experience. We can not only appreciate our own beauty and energy, but generate it too. Whether we find this force among the tides, the mountains or in the palms of our hands, a similar, innate alchemical urge drives us.

Elena Hight and Robin Van Gyn splitboarding above a breaking wave. Westfjords, Iceland.

The film is the brainchild of Ben Sturgelewski. When approached by Justin Sweeney, sports marketing specialist at Arc’teryx, with the rough idea of a film involving music, Ben conceptualized a convergence of music, surf and snow in the Westfjords region of Iceland, a landscape of expansive energy where each of these elements live in close proximity. “For me on a personal level, I was really interested in this film in trying to get to the DNA of creativity, like what are [its] basic building blocks?” Ben says.

Ben explored this idea through a grand to granular lens: taking the macro-level idea of the birth of our universe and pairing it with the micro-level notion of a human being’s ability to explore creativity. “In the aurora of Iceland, I started thinking of these interstellar elements, this cosmic level of creation, and how these massive cosmic forces trickle down energy throughout the universe,” Ben says. “We as humans find ways to harness them and utilize them. Gravity and tides and all these things, they are all remnants of massive cosmic energy.”

Elena Hight snowboards while Peter Devries surfs in the background. Westfjords, Iceland.

Creation Theory features Arc’teryx snowboarders Elena Hight and Robin Van Gyn, and surfer Pete Devries throughout the interchanging shots of the Icelandic coastline and mountains. The roughly 22-minute film dances back and forth between a narrative scientific run-down of the history of the universe and its forces, and the stories of these individuals as they harness those forces in the snow, water or on the guitar. By the end, you are left with a chilling sense of convergence between the science behind our reality and our innermost sources of momentum. It leaves the viewer inspired to tap into their own creative euphoria, whether it be on a board or something else entirely.

Both snow and surf hold importance in Elena and Robin’s lives and collaborating on this deep concept sports action film excited them. “It’s about figuring out how to utilize your surroundings and the energy that exists to progress yourself in snowboarding and to also just go to different places,” Robin says. “And not just physical places, but mental places as well.”

Robin Van Gyn and Elena Hight climb a couloir in Iceland's Westfjords with snowboards on their backs.

Amongst that mental exploration was the creativity of music. Ben Moon, renowned photographer and creative director for Creation Theory, brought in musician Griff Washburn, A.K.A Goth Babe, to not only feature his talents and surfing, but also to produce the soundtrack of the film in the moment and on location. Creating within the production space led to what Moon saw as perfection: “About six weeks after we got back from the trip, Griff sent me a Dropbox folder of music and it was just seven incredible songs. Nothing needed to be changed. It was kickass and fabulous from day one,” Ben says.

That isn’t to say it was all effortless. While creativity blossomed, a combination of unpredictable environmental and life events led to ups and downs throughout filming. Fighting wind and chasing snow was a consistent challenge, for one. Two drones were lost to the elements. But, fighting tooth and nail with the weather for three weeks and plentiful down time left unexpected room to be present in the trip itself. In between it all, the crew was welcomed into local homes and gained newfound appreciation for those living in such harsh conditions yet so happy to exist in that energy.

Behind the scenes filming Creation Theory. Westfjords, Iceland.

Via a healthy dose of touring amongst high wind and storms, and sleeping under the northern lights, Elena and Robin were able to ride steep couloirs and find some powder in the Icelandic backcountry. And that, of course, is Elena’s creative space. “I can access the present moment much easier and fuller when snowboarding than I’ve ever been able to in other areas of life,” Elena says. “So, that’s what I really connect with in the film.”

In the end, they connected to make something beautiful—a final product that is the result of applying raw, creative energy to one of the wildest environments on Earth, and the collaboration between a diverse cast of driven individuals.

Robin Van Gyn and Elena Hight celebrating a job well done. Westfjords, Iceland.

Enabled by Arc’teryx’s commitment to “broadening their horizon,” as Robin puts it, Creation Theory brings a new twist to action sports filmmaking. The result is a unique awareness of the physical forces that surround us, how they affect our perceptions of time and space, and how we mesh with them to form our own concept of self. Ultimately, the intangible and gravitational forces that lure us into inspiration, creation and flow hold as much mystery as the cosmos. Yet the same deep, primordial root inspires us all to play.



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