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The Heresy of Zone Defense | Thomas Cummins Art & Architectural Photography | San Antonio, Tx
"Consider this for a moment: Julius Erving’s play was at once new and fair! The rules, made by people who couldn’t begin to imagine Erving’s play, made it possible. If this doesn’t intrigue you, it certainly intrigues me, because, to be blunt, I have always had a problem with “the rules,” as much now as when I was younger. Thanks to an unruled and unruly childhood, however, I have never doubted the necessity of having them, even though they all go bad, and despite the fact that I have never been able to internalize them. To this day, I never stop at a stop sign without mentally patting myself on the back for my act of good citizenship, but I do stop (usually) because the alternative to living with rules—as I discovered when I finally learned some—is just hell. It is a life of perpetual terror, self-conscious wariness, and self-deluding ferocity, which is not just barbarity, but the condition of not knowing that you are a barbarian. And this is never to know the lightness of joy—or even the possibility of it—because such joys as are attendant upon Julius Erving’s play require civilizing rules that attenuate violence and defer death. They require rules that translate the pain of violent conflict into the pleasures of disputation—into the excitements of politics, the delights of rhetorical art, and competitive sport. Moreover, the maintenance of such joys requires that we recognize, as Thomas Jefferson did, that the liberating rule that civilized us yesterday will, almost inevitably, seek to govern us tomorrow, by suppressing both the pleasure and the disputation. In so doing, it becomes a form of violence itself.

An instance: I can remember being buoyed up, as a youth, by reading about Jackson Pollock in a magazine and seeing photographs of him painting. I was heartened by the stupid little rule through which Pollock civilized his violence. It’s okay to drip paint, Jackson said. The magazine seemed to acquiesce: Yeah, Jackson’s right, it seemed to say, grudgingly, Dripping paint is now within the rules. Discovering this, I was a little bit more free than I was before, and I know that it was a “boy thing,” about privileging prowess at the edge of control and having the confidence to let things go all strange—and I know, as well, that, in my adolescent Weltanschauung, the fact that Jackson Pollock dripped paint somehow justified my not clearing the debris from the floor of my room (which usually, presciently, resembled a Rauschenberg combine). Even so, I had a right to be shocked a few years later when I enrolled in a university and discovered that Pollock’s joyous permission had been translated into a prohibitive, institutional edict: It’s bad not to drip! the art coaches said. It means you got no soul! Yikes!

Henceforth, it has always seemed to me that the trick of civilization lies in recognizing the moment when a rule ceases to liberate and begins to govern—and this brings us back to the glory of hoops. Because among all the arts of disputation our culture provides, basketball has been supreme in recognizing this moment of portending government and in deflecting it, by changing the rules when they threaten to make the game less beautiful and less visible, when the game stops liberating and begins to educate. And even though basketball is not a fine art—even though it is merely an armature upon which we project the image of our desire, while art purports to embody that image—the fact remains that every style change that basketball has undergone in this century has been motivated by a desire to make the game more joyful, various, and articulate, while nearly every style change in fine art has been, in some way, motivated by the opposite agenda. Thus basketball, which began this century as a pedagogical discipline, concludes it as a much beloved public spectacle, while fine art, which began this century as a much-beloved public spectacle, has ended up where basketball began—in the YMCA or its equivalent—governed rather than liberated by its rules."

"The long-standing reform coalition of players, fans, and professional owners would have doubtless seen to that, since these aesthetes have never aspired to anything else. They have never wanted anything but for their team to win beautifully, to score more points, to play faster, and to equalize the opportunity of taller and shorter players—to privilege improvisation, so that gifted athletes, who must play as a team to win (because the game is so well-designed), might express their unique talents in a visible way. Opposing this coalition of ebullient fops is the patriarchal cult of college-basketball coaches and their university employers, who have always wanted to slow the game down, to govern, to achieve continuity, to ensure security and maintain stability. These academic bureaucrats want a “winning program” and plot to win programmatically, by fitting interchangeable players into pre-assigned “positions” within the “system.” And if this entails compelling gifted athletes to guard little patches of hardwood in static zone defenses and to trot around on offense in repetitive, choreographed patterns until they and their fans slip off into narcoleptic coma, then so be it. That’s the way Coach wants it. Fortunately, almost no one else does; and thus under pressure from the professional game, college basketball today is either an enormously profitable, high-speed moral disgrace or a stolid, cerebral celebration of the coach-as-auteur—which should tell us something about the wedding of art and education.

In professional basketball, however, art wins. Every major rule change in the past sixty years has been instituted to forestall either the Administrator’s Solution (Do nothing and hold on to your advantage) or the Bureaucratic Imperative (Guard your little piece of territory like a mad rat in a hole). The “ten-second rule” that requires a team to advance the ball aggressively, and the “shot-clock rule” that requires a team to shoot the ball within twenty-four seconds of gaining possession of it, have pretty much eliminated the option of holding the ball and doing nothing with it, since, at various points in the history of the game, this simulacrum of college administration has nearly destroyed it.

The “illegal-defense rule” which banned zone defenses, however, did more than save the game. It moved professional basketball into the fluid complexity of post-industrial culture—leaving the college game with its zoned parcels of real estate behind. Since zone defenses were first forbidden in 1946, the rules against them have undergone considerable refinement, but basically they now require that every defensive player on the court defend against another player on the court, anywhere on the court, all the time."

"James Naismith’s Guiding Principles of Basket-Ball, 1891
(Glossed by the author)

1) There must be a ball; it should be large.
(This in prescient expectation of Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving, whose hands would reinvent basketball as profoundly as Jimi Hendrix’s hands reinvented rock-and-roll.)

2) There shall be no running with the ball.
(Thus mitigating the privileges of owning portable property. Extended ownership of the ball is a virtue in football. Possession of the ball in basketball is never ownership; it is always temporary and contingent upon your doing something with it.)

3) No man on either team shall be restricted from getting the ball at any time that it is in play.
(Thus eliminating the job specialization that exists in football, by whose rules only those players in “skill positions” may touch the ball. The rest just help. In basketball there are skills peculiar to each position, but everyone must run, jump, catch, shoot, pass, and defend.)

4) Both teams are to occupy the same area, yet there is to be no personal contact.
(Thus no rigorous territoriality, nor any rewards for violently invading your opponents’ territory unless you score. The model for football is the drama of adjacent nations at war. The model for basketball is the polyglot choreography of urban sidewalks.)

5) The goal shall be horizontal and elevated.
(The most Jeffersonian principle of all: Labor must be matched by aspiration. To score, you must work your way down court, but you must also elevate! Ad astra.)"
davehickey  via:ablerism  1995  basketball  rules  games  nfl  nba  defense  jamesnaismith  play  constrains  aesthetics  americanfootball  football  territoriality  possession  ownership  specialization  generalists  beauty  juliuserving  jimihendrix  bodies  hands  1980  kareemabdul-jabbar  mauricecheeks  fluidity  adaptability  ymca  violence  coaching  barbarism  civility  sports  body 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Ruscha in his own words - San Francisco Chronicle
[in case of paywall, try arriving via: ]

"San Francisco is graced right now with two excellent shows surveying aspects of California cultural treasure Ed Ruscha’s long career. At 78, Ruscha (he pronounces it “roo-SHAY”) has reached the pinnacle of both the art market and the respect of fellow artists internationally with highly distilled, power-packed paintings, drawings, prints and photographs. I was introduced to his work in graduate school, and it has been a career-long conceptual linchpin for me, as for so many others.

I jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with the Los Angeles artist in conversation about his work and life, on the day before his de Young Museum exhibition premiered to museum members. What follows are edited excerpts from our interview.

How he works: “In art school the real spark happened when other students, and instructors alike, would approach their art like it was almost a blank canvas — almost as blank as this table. And then you take colors, and somehow you bring them to this blank canvas, but there’s never pre-described notions that go with that. And I’ve always wondered, ‘Where in the world would you start with something like that?’

“Yet some of that painting, that Abstract Expressionist painting, was some of the best art — and it’s held up quite well throughout the years. It’s just as good today as it was back then.”

•“I have off-and-on (assistants) that work part time — there’s like five or six people, and they keep things going. And I don’t mess with machines much, I’m not too good with that — I was sort of left in the dust with the Internet. Every day I’m reminded: Too bad I didn’t join. How would I ever get back onto the Internet world? So I kind of pass on that, but I have an assistant or two that can help me find things. I’m a paper and pencil person.”

•“I get up around a quarter to 6, or 6 if I oversleep. Then I make it to my studio and I basically stay there all day. ... Pretty much, yeah. Except when I’m traveling. It’s a habitual thing, and it’s not as though I have planned out my day. I don’t exactly do that. It’s fluid, and I bounce from project to project, and never really complete anything in a day’s time. But by the end of the week, maybe I get a few things that I’m happy with.”

•“I find that I want to spend less time thinking about things that I’ve already done because that’s, in itself, time-consuming. So I kind of put those things to sleep, as much as possible, and concentrate on doing something towards the future.”

•“It’s maybe a strain of nervous energy, or habitual behavior, that’s guided me. If I was so in love with the world, why wouldn’t I want to be traveling every day? Why not give up everything and go suck the good stuff out of the world and go everywhere? But I don’t. I live a kind of prosaic life. I just get up every day and do this stuff, and don’t think too much about it.”

Getting out of town: “When I go to (my home in the) desert, it’s always a drastic change from the noise of the city. And I appreciate that; I can dig in. And there’s always ‘events of plain living’ that take over. So I can be away from all this noise of the city, and then I’m ready to go back. So, it’s sort of a cyclical thing.”

Young artists today: “I see a lot of what I consider healthy motions in the art world today. The younger people, especially, they’re just willing to kamikaze the whole thing. They just really throw their guts into it, and to hell with what the future’s like. I see that and I admire that — some artists can really get along by exploring 10 different attitudes. They’ll paint a realistic picture in one stroke, and in another they’ve got splashed paint. And that’s amusing to see.”

Critics and editors: “(Critic) Dave Hickey is an old friend, and he once said, ‘Oh, you painted a picture of a Standard station, and you painted a picture of Norm’s La Cienega Restaurant on fire. Oh, I see, he paints norms and standards.’

“It’s such a strange observation, something that I never intended. I can’t say it’s not true. It’s just a coincidence of these two things that somebody other than myself will pick out, and expose. If he’s doing it in an antagonistic way, bless him; if he’s trying to make me realize something that I planned out, well that’s not true.”

•“I’ve often wondered why somebody like Ernest Hemingway, for instance, would ever have an editor to tell him, ‘Oh, you can’t put that sentence in there.’ I found that to be really strange, how writers, especially, have editors that can sometimes attack the very thing that you’re trying to say. Or shape something into a more palatable product.

“Artists, myself included, are lucky to be immune to that. Because we can rest on artistic license. You could extend that to the world of literature (or music), too, but the notes have to fall into the right places. With visual art, nothing has to fall into the right places. Sometimes, that very thing, when you’ve achieved that, you make a good picture. So you have all these irrational things that don’t add up, that eventually can add up, and make a solid picture.

“It’s like sailing on a strange sea, where there’s almost nothing out there. That can be scary, of course. Visual artists can just about do anything, and that’s a puzzling fact of life. There’s nobody who comes in and says, ‘No, it’s better if you change that color. Or put that color there. Or, if you like that color so damn much, put it over in the upper left-hand corner.’”

•“There have been times when somebody said absurd things (about my work) that I discount. Indifference is another thing. These books I made, I felt like they’re off in a zone by themselves. I would hand these books out to people — the gas station book (“Twentysix Gasoline Stations” (1963)). I sort of felt, like, ‘Boy, maybe this was kissed by angels. I like what I’m doing here, I gotta keep making this and doing this.’ And I would find that people who were intellectual — poets or people like that would get the book and their attitude was, ‘Are you putting me on? Are you having us on?’

“And yet, ordinary people from the street, like somebody who might work in a gas station, would say, ‘Hey, look!’ I gave the books to strangers who worked in gas stations and pumped gas, and I got more of a welcome from those kind of people than I did from so-called intellectuals.

“I kept making them till I felt like, ‘Well, I’ll put the rest of my ideas in the refrigerator and see what happens in the year 2050 or something.’

“They’re little wild hairs that finally emerged. The idea, I guess, is to keep the future and near future open to possibilities.”

•“When it comes to the exhibit itself, usually what I do is I have a group of things that go into a certain space. And I find the choice wall, and I take my favorite thing and put that on that choice wall. And then everything else kind of falls apart.

“I’m not very good at how to display a group of my things. That’s why curators are so good at what they do. Other eyes are very helpful.”

Having an audience: “Some might see a strangeness to my work, and that’s fine — I’m OK with that. I think it’s best to not exactly know where your position in the big picture is. It’s vague, and it’s also changing all the time, too.”

•“I’ve never felt like I was meant to communicate with anybody. So if you’re not going to do that, then you’re not going to have an audience, I guess. But, inadvertently, whatever I might do as an artist — that I feel that I’m eager to do — will be seen by other people, and that’s part of the package, I guess. That causes me to think about what the art world is like today, and I see it’s vastly different from when I was younger. I mean, there was no promise of making a vocation out of it. We just did it for the sport of it. And to impress each other.”

Sustaining a career for more than 50 years: “I sort of started with a kind of a menu, and then never really looked either way. It’s like some undescribed principles that I follow. But I do it intuitively. There have been periods when things got real slow.

“I don’t look at it as though I’ve reinvented myself. Because I think you’d have to go way down, and almost quit. And then you reinvent yourself. I always just wanted to follow some course. And the course is, of course, no course.”"
edruscha  davehickey  art  artists  2016  howwework 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Minimum Viable Artwork | Feral Research Coalition
"That established cultural institutions are having a hard time relating to art and culture made with contemporary technology is painfully apparent. That they want to remedy this by turning towards the incubator model only shows how desperately regressive they are."

"It is unlikely that any of the artists featured in the exhibitions I mentioned above will be found writing Python code over a cafe midnight at Ritual (unless it’s their day job) because, for the most part, in the ecosystem of the artists I admire who are chasing the meat of art and tech, there couldn’t be three institutions less relevant than New York’s major museums, startup culture and (since I’m barbecuing sacred cows): hacker spaces.

This is not to say that these institutions are inherently evil or bad at what they do, it’s just to say that they are at best not particularly relevant to art production and at worst unintentionally destructive. In all cases this has mostly to do with their formal positions with regards to the dreaded market.

Major museums may wish to have a broad cultural mission and many even succeed on occasion, but they exist largely to condense, wash, clean, process and present the dirty fucked-up art world for preservation and trade. They are in the packaging business. If an artwork appears in MoMA it has been dipped in preservative and the edges have been filed off. This doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious, but Hostess isn’t your neighborhood bakery (which, in any case, is still a business and nothing at all like your grandmother’s home cooking). Museums, while occasionally flying the flag of the freaky creative class, have more in common with financial institutions than artist studios. (Quick: name one heist film that featured burgling a working artist)."

"In the end I don’t want to specifically criticize the New Museum’s venture because I believe it’s a symptom rather than the disease. We have come to believe that art and technology are somehow the same thing, just as we have internalized the idea that creative success and financial success are equivalent.

Art as I know it is messy, complicated, dirty, scary and sharp. It causes problems and fails to measure up and resists categorization. It generates failure. It wastes time and money. It burns through cash and it doesn’t say why.

Museums are archives and represent the endpoint of work, not the wellspring of creativity. If an artwork has solidified out of this primordial state it is not because it represents the “cutting edge” it is because it is finished. As Dave Hickey says: “Whatever happy contingencies fluttered around it disperse, as it departs society and enters “the culture,” where it must necessarily mean less, but to a lot more people. It’s spectator-food, now, scholar-fodder, so you may safely stick a fork in it, tell yourself you’ve won, and go to your room.”

I am not surprised that a major museum as a cultural actor is going to make a safe bet, in particular with regards to technology-based works which are notoriously risky and problematic as art objects. (“It worked five minutes ago” doesn’t fly well among preservationists or collectors). That most of the highly visible contemporary art and technology works currently being displayed are repeatable (if shallow) spectacles is not a major revelation, but it bears a hard look.

It bothers me that the last time I visited the New Museum I ducked into their auxiliary space to be confronted by Nathalie Djurbeg and Hans Berg’s delightfully weird Bird Parade. This was an artist and musician I had never heard of before, and I stayed until the guards kicked me out. Next time, a visit to the same space will require an NDA and likely revealing nothing more interesting than a bunch of white dudes pounding keyboards and energy drinks.

"It bothers me that the notion of artistic risk has been so de-fanged that it can be expressed only in terms of market risk (Serrano’s 1989 Piss Christ was both far more daring and far more beautiful than wasting series A funding, no matter how hot your photo sharing ap might be).

It bothers me that we even consider business strategy as a replacement for encouraging art production. I don’t anticipate the return of public arts funding for individual artists in the United States, but in a world of crowd funding filled with the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo and Bandcamp what the art world, (and in particular the art and tech field) needs are a lot fewer “startup incubators” and a lot more Awesome Foundations."

[via: ]

[See also: ]
andrewsempere  inefficiency  newmuseum  davehickey  startupculture  kickstarter  indiegogo  bandcamp  awesomefoundation  2013  art  process  messiness  artproduction  diy  hackerspaces  incubators  culture  culturecreation  waste  time  money  markets  artmarket  finance  juliakaganskiy  artincubators  culturemaking  culturalproduction  andresserrano 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Creativity is rejected: Teachers and bosses don’t value out-of-the-box thinking.
"“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

In fact, everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.

Staw was asked to contribute to a 1995 book about creativity in the corporate world. Fed up with the hypocrisy he saw, he called his chapter “Why No One Really Wants Creativity.” The piece was an indictment of the way our culture deals with new ideas and creative people”
In terms of decision style, most people fall short of the creative ideal … unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling the choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.

Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them—school. Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

Even if children are lucky enough to have a teacher receptive to their ideas, standardized testing and other programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (a program whose very designation is opposed to nonlinear creative thinking) make sure children’s minds are not on the “wrong” path, even though adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than their IQ. It’s ironic that even as children are taught the accomplishments of the world’s most innovative minds, their own creativity is being squelched.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and social rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this rejection. A Cornell study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests."

"Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”

To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself."
business  creativity  education  psychology  jessicaolien  teachers  teaching  schools  schooliness  2013  bias  lcproject  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  mediocrity  davehickey  art  design  barrystraw  annawintour  gracecoddington  nclb  rttt  resilience  happiness  fulfillment  glvo  rejection  control 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Doyen of American critics turns his back on the 'nasty, stupid' world of modern art | Art and design | The Observer
""Money and celebrity has cast a shadow over the art world which is prohibiting ideas and debate from coming to the fore," he said yesterday, adding that the current system of collectors, galleries, museums and art dealers colluding to maintain the value and status of artists quashed open debate on art.

"I hope this is the start of something that breaks the system. At the moment it feels like the Paris salon of the 19th century, where bureaucrats and conservatives combined to stifle the field of work. It was the Impressionists who forced a new system, led by the artists themselves. It created modern art and a whole new way of looking at things.

"Lord knows we need that now more than anything. We need artists to work outside the establishment and start looking at the world in a different way – to start challenging preconceptions instead of reinforcing them." …"
glvo  art  debate  deschooling  unschooling  outsiders  questioning  challenge  establishment  subversion  statusquo  money  celebrity  quitting  artworld  rant  davehickey  2012  outsider 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Dave Hickey - The Heresy of Zone Defense [.pdf]
"Kareem, after the game, remarked that he would pay to see Doctor J make that play against someone else. Kareem's remark clouds the issue, however, because the play was as much his as it was Erving's, since it was Kareem's perfect defense that made Erving's instantaneous, pluperfect response to it both necessary and possible—thus the joy, because everyone behaved perfectly, eloquently, with mutual respect, and something magic happened—thus the joy, at the triumph of civil society in an act that was clearly the product of talent and will accommodating itself to liberating rules." This is phenomenal writing.
writing  play  sports  games  basketball  davehickey  juliuserving  via:infovore  rules  drj 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Believer - Interview with Dave Hickey
"The MFA system produces "Almost no one. Idiots with low-grade depression...The MFA thing is an invention of the ’70s. Its raison d’être is evaporating."
art  brain  creativity  criticism  thinking  writing  jazz  davehickey  mfa  education  academia  culture  richardserra  glvo  edruscha  frankgehry  danflavin  donaldjudd  andywarhol  anthonycaro  brucenauman  ellsworthkelly  sollewitt 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Frieze Foundation | Talks | Custodians of Culture - Schoolyard Art: Playing Fair Without the Referee
"Dave Hickey (Cultural Critic and Professor of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas) will present a keynote lecture on the subject of selling without selling out focusing on how sites of commerce have evolved from the white cube to the art fair."
davehickey  culture  art  commerce  money  value  truth  criticism  economics  bubbles  noncommercialart 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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