Renaissance Coming: Exhibit A

This five-part series examines the cultural tremors shedding light on surfing’s future.

Exhibit A: Creative Destruction

Wade Goodall and friends: canaries in our coal mine. All Photos: Creative Destruction

"It's so good that it's gone back into a real artistic phase. I don't even know how to put it into words. It's so exciting. All the 20-something-year-olds have all come up and nearly every one of them is so talented and together and so switched on with where they're going and what they're doing. I get so inspired by what they're doing." —Ozzie Wright

The last time a pro surfer was paid to attend a festival of freaks and the free was probably 40 years ago — yet in 2010, Wade Goodall and Jake Donlen of the Creative Destruction project managed to get Billabong to validate a trip to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. It failed spectacularly when they were forbidden from using footage of the trip (conditions of the festival demand that film not be used for commercial purposes) but the idea was audacious and the message awesome.

It signaled one of many ambitious and innovative ideas Creative Destruction has brought to surfing over the past 12 months, also marking an about face in the fortunes of its star, Wade Goodall.

By his own admission, Wade has been a bitch to market. Once Australia's best junior surfer (he won the ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series in 2006), Wade's career was on the scrap heap. This was back before the freesurfing/blogosphere path had been fully developed, and Wade found himself wandering the nexus between freesurfing and the WQS. Knowing Wade was too talented to be let go, Billabong handed him the marketing reigns (along with a generous budget), and this harmonica playing art and photography enthusiast — who’s as happy at an obscure folk festival as trading eight-foot comin'-atcha bowls somewhere tropical — came up with Creative Destruction. The project has provided an antidote to the electro-pop and glossy pre-teen pandering that’s plagued surfing's past few years. See the episode below in which Wade asks a guitarist pal to riff over footage of himself and an all-star cast splitting heaving P-pass for proof. Beats Ladyhawke with an axe, it does. —Jed Smith

PHOTOS: Creative Destruction

Next in Renaissance Coming: could it be that a large part of the surfing public isn't as captivated by the World Tour as first thought?