May 15, 2011, 12:00 AM
There are all sorts of ways to merge chess with art or music.
Music critic and chess writer and aficionado, Harold Schonberg considered chess itself an art "in that it deals with the materials and processes of creation and evokes an aesthetic response."
Some musicians, such as Yes in "Your Move," and the Jefferson Airplane in "White Rabbit," used chess symbolically. (for a huge list of chess/music connections, see Bill Wall's page )
"Chess," the musical (by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, with Tim Rice) went a step further in making a chess game an allegorical implement as well as the setting for the musical. It employs the almost natural backdrop of Cold War tensions.
The Battle screenshot
This backdrop, as it does seem almost natural given the Fischer-Spaasky match that became so politically involved, is evoked again in a short avant-garde music video for a song called, "The Battle," by an unsigned group named Secret Circuits.
Gary Dumbill, the video director called my attention to his artwork.
Just as there's always disagreement about whether chess is an art - and one might even argue about what constitute art itself - there seems little doubt that Mr. Dumbill is an artist. His video contains elements of creativity, symbolism, aesthetic/emotional response. . .
There is even an element of humor which Duchamp himself seemed to find so important. The two screenshots below demonstrate some policically incorrect humor whereas the American player sighs over a "playgirl" photo white the Russian player daydreams about a more athletic honey:
The video is replete with subtle and not-so-subtle references, sometimes thrown at you, sometimes sitting quietly in the background.
Art can take many forms and the evaluation of art ultimately lies in the mind of each viewer or auditor. Chess can be a hackneyed devise, or a well-worn on that simply need revitalization. I found the video and it's use of chess refreshing and invite others to view and decide for themselves.
Videography by Gary Dumbill