Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Fine Arts, Visual Arts
Ryan Mandell M.F.A.
the smoke of battle pressing engages the reader by requiring a sacrifice similar to that experienced in the game of chess. During a famous chess match in 1912 between Marshall and Levitsky, Marshall sacrificed his queen, the most powerful piece, in a counter-intuitive way that led to an immediate victory for Marshall. A sacrifice of similar gravity is made when the reader resigns presumptions or expectations in order to have a more meaningful experience. A sacrifice on my part is made when I remove myself from the artwork and give up my authority over the image in much the same way that Roland Barthes describes in Death of the Author. This dynamic is further implemented and fostered throughout the thesis by drawing parallel metaphors using repetition and subtle variation, dialogue formats, formulas, and specific grammatical changes. Each of these shifts should be understood as a metaphor and taken in stride with the visual artwork as a mirror in which both the artwork and the thesis are mutually enhanced by an understanding of the other.
the smoke of battle pressing is about war: not a specific war, but an understanding that relies on the reader’s experiences, whether they are exterior, as in a physical battle, or interior like a mental state of conflict. This concept is employed in order to investigate the relationship between the artist, reader, and artwork, and the ensuing confrontation, portrayed as a conversation, moves between styles and formats, like chess moves. Each move is significant and directs the outcome of the remainder of the game. The outcome relies on depth of introspection, and its prize is a new, transformative experience founded on an understanding of one’s previous experiences.
Bodett, Matthew, "The Smoke of Battle Pressing" (2011). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. Paper 227.
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