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Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
School of Art, Design and Art History
John Casteen IV
b : to put out the light or fire
c : to cool suddenly by immersion
d : to cause to lose heat or warmth
e : to bring to an end typically by satisfying, damping, cooling, or
f : to relieve or satisfy with liquid
This is often how projects begin, a haunting idea, word, or experience inundates my consciousness and sub-consciousness. How could the body directly relate to an experience of quenching? This provoked the idea of the extreme sport: freediving. To adequately depict the definition of quenching, any ordinary depth would not suffice; it required being the world’s deepest dive by a human. Danger aside, the world record unassisted freedive would be the purest example of an experiential quenching imagined. After contacting William Trubridge, a world record holding freediver, the consequential physical dangers became secondary. In order to successfully execute his dive, it is imperative that Trubridge reaches an extreme quieted state of mind before and during a dive. Below the surface, at a maximum depth of three hundred and thirty four feet, he cannot allow physical stress or mental disturbances arise. He cannot waste the oxygen that such a heightened state of awareness burns. The mastering of this mental focus and such a profound state of calm is overwhelming. “At three hundred feet, we are profoundly changed. The pressure at these depths is nine times that of the surface. The organs collapse. The heart beats a quarter of its normal rate, slower that the rate of a person in a coma. Senses disappear. The brain enters a dream state”.
All of the components of a work are imagined as facets in a constellation. Continuously connecting one aspect to another, which might seem disparate allows for an exponential evolution of associations. The work is consistently larger that I am, and has capabilities to know more than I know. Gathering and choosing materials becomes an elaborate, idiosyncratic, and highly deliberate system. Ultimately, through my art, I am encountering ways to be affected. I am watching constellations expand into universes.
What am I to do now with my hands
After the mouth stings of sumac,
the way a split fish shines in its uncooperative ways.
Bones suddenly stark of scales: a secret that is the entire story.
This too shows a kind of pretend‑
these terms of deserving and not deserving play an omen and a stray
I believe there is no false ache, and no vowel held delicately in the mouth;
bereft from the choice to veer towards or to retract from.
 Nestor, James. Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What The Ocean
Tells Us About Ourselves. Boston, NY: Profile , 2015. Print.
Reid, Ellen G., "Material poetics" (2017). Masters Theses. 484.
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