Point of Divergence, the latest installment in Mike McKay's 'Chaos Theory' series of abstract whitewater profiles makes the rhythmic connection between a painter’s rapid brush strokes on canvas and kayaker Capo Rettig’s paddle strokes down Washington’s White Salmon River. Read McKay’s thoughts on the edit and check out Part II: Cause & Effect featuring Idaho paddler Ryan Bailey, and Part I: Free Will featuring Mexican paddler Isidro Soberanes.
CANOEKAYAK.COM: So who is the artist?
MIKE McKAY: The artist is Jaya Krishnan. He is a good friend of mine. He had often brought up the idea of painting the areas that I get to go to. This idea to have it blend with the motion of my video work became a natural way for him and I to collaborate. Watching him paint these pictures represented the chaos-zen almost more than anything else in this series. His brush strokes were so chaotic and fast but when you stand back and see the beauty of what he has done it is pretty incredible to see that kind of talent.
What made you want to feature Capo?
Well, all the paddlers in this series are quite involved in the world of whitewater, but that one level below everyone knowing who they are. I like that. Capo displays a lot of honesty in everything he does. He is completely straight up. I got along with him really well at the Whitewater Grand Prix and we talked about the concept at that time. He has a lot of passion and works really hard to bring whitewater to so many kids through World Class Academy. However, I wanted to put him on the other side of that and see him on the screen.
In the beginning, NRS Films was a supporter of this project. It was actually their call to feature the White Salmon (and the North Fork). I am glad they did since it brought me back to a river that has always really inspired me and the direction of a lot of my work.
So this was a full-circle turn for you as a filmmaker then?
It is really true! My first-ever shoot was in the White Salmon area. I just had a camera and an idea to shoot some conservation stories (Currents). I ended up going back four times to shoot that area and the passion that surrounds it. I was also able to help in a small way with capturing the Condit Dam removal. It was very special to go back and paddle that area since the dam has been removed and to see the way nature has healed itself.
It was only natural to feature the landscape where the canyon has now become full of life. Also, capturing the salmon going upstream really represents why the dam removal was so special.
What’s the next for you then? Another episode in the series?
Yes, there is another episode in the works and I am collaborating on this one with Dylan Page. We are still shooting and it is in my favorite place: Quebec. Lots of interesting ideas floating around. This project is completely personal and I may actually just go ahead and do another batch of three episodes for release in the fall. We'll see.
And what’s happening with the paintings?
I am really excited about the paintings. Jaya and I have been talking with American Whitewater to find a way to sell prints as a fundraiser for AW as well as an initiative he is starting to teach kids art in Thailand and feed them lunch. He is very passionate about this and I would love to find a way to help him out as well as support AW for taking care of rivers like the White Salmon. It is really a success story worth sharing and supporting.