And we shall play a game of chess

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Darren Tofts

Artist’s Statement

The punctum of Duchamp playing a game of chess quickly found me. Through a process of association I was reminded of a line from The Waste Land in which Eliot pla(y)giarizes the game of chess in Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women. Reading through the source material I was given I was struck by how much of it was a kind of dialogue among the various personae populated under the rubric of Mark Amerika. I chose to retain this call and response vibe but to synthesize the genre of philosophical dialectic with the agon of a chess match, to create the sense of a competitive battle of ideas being played out (rather like the tennis match between Gary Oldman and Tim Roth in Tom Stoppard’s film adaptation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead). Once this choice of a framing device had been made it was then a matter of selecting themes that could be developed out of discrete pieces of text that made sense as a dialogue. In the context of the chess game, utterance gets more spare as the endgame looms and Professor VJ intuits his own sense of an ending (with apologies to Frank Kermode).


Darren Tofts is Professor of Media and Communications, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.


Fibreculture Journal Issue 15, 2009: Remix (ed. Darren Tofts and Christian McCrea)