For years I’ve been a listener of Sports Talk radio. I don’t watch the games. I don’t care who wins. I just enjoy the mindless but detailed debate. It is a joy to listen to the nerds and statisticians sink their teeth into something entirely meaningless.
I have a craving for a similar kind of discussion in the arts. Awhile back I toyed with an exercise on charting photographers. (I never did figure out the Y axis). Not long afterward I encountered a much more elaborate literature map. I’m waiting for someone to apply a similar algorithm to the visual arts. The closest I’ve seen is Peter Schjeldahl’s appropriation of the ultimate nerd-stat paradigm, the baseball lineup:
Cindy Sherman, third base: middling range but super quickness, Gold Glove, hasn’t missed a ball hit her way in two seasons…disciplined hitter, pulls inside pitch for distance…selfless player, cinch to sac bunt or hit behind runner
Anselm Kiefer, first base: two-ton Teuton, just adequate at position, can be bunted on…fearsome slugger, aggressive, bad-ball hitter, can take anything downtown…slow but intimidating on bases, catcher advised not to block.
Brice Marden, second base: keystone pro, range limited but good jump, unreal pivot…tough out, sometime power…knows the game, team captain.
Frank Stella, starting pitcher: ageless vet, owns the ball…heat diminished but sneaky with awesome pitch assortment, super control, mixes speeds, throws changeup for strike…competitor, will brushback.
Ed Rusha, short relief: submarine delivery…indifferent heat but slider and screwball sparkle, keeps everything low.
General Managers: Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns
Grounds crew: Walter de Maria, Michael Heizer
I’m sorry for turning this into Schjeldahl Week, but I’ve been reading Hyydrogen Jukebox and it is just too good. The only problem with the baseball lineup is that it is dated. (1982, from the essay Clemente to Marden to Kiefer). What would the lineup look like 25 years later? Who would be playing in Mudville – Barney at the bat?