Destruction Rites: Ephemerality and Demolition in Postwar Visual Culture 9781350986077, 9781786731593

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Destruction Rites: Ephemerality and Demolition in Postwar Visual Culture
 9781350986077, 9781786731593

Table of contents :
Cover
Half-title
Endorsement
Title page
Copyright information
Dedication
Table of contents
List of figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 The Demolition Derby
Background, History, Rules of the Game
The Demolition Derby as an Antiproductive Ritual
Car Culture
The Sexuality of the Automobile
Car Crashes and Trauma
The Car, the Crash and Destructive/Constructive Practices in Art
DIAS and Destruction in Art
The Derby and Tinguely: From the Fairgrounds to the Museum
2 Military Games of Destruction
War Games
Board Games and Simulations
War Games in Art
3 Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction
Model Making
Models, Science Fiction and Advertising
War Figurines – Dolls and Action Figures
Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction in Art: Niki de Saint Phalle and Lee Bontecou
4 Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space
Adventure Playgrounds
Toys and Children’s Books of Destruction
Artists and Destruction in the Public Space
5 Garage Sales and Planned Obsolescence
The New Collecting
Artists’ Response: From the Flea Market to the Garage Sale
Conclusion
Notes
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Demolition Derby
Chapter 2: Military Games of Destruction
Chapter 3: Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction
Chapter 4: Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space
Chapter 5: Garage Sales and Planned Obsolescence
Conclusion
Index

Citation preview

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Mona Hadler is a professor of Art History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). She has written widely on the artist Lee Bontecou and on the art of 1950s New York.

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 “Hadler demonstrates how destruction, when ritualized in popular culture and fine art, can become enormously productive aesthetically.” David Joselit, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center ‘‘The book … has a clear, powerful point to make, and does so economically, engagingly and thoughtfully … The scholarship is impressive.’’ Jo Applin, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art, University of York ‘‘Hadler treats objects of popular culture without condescension, giving them the same thoughtful visual analysis, informed by a deep understanding of history, with which she presents avant-garde art. And she provides a model for interpreting iconoclasm that will be relevant both to art historians in her own field and far beyond it. I’m very grateful for this book.’’ Rachel Kousser, Professor of Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology, City University of New York, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center

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Destruction Rites

Ephemerality and Demolition in Postwar Visual C ulture

MONA HADLER

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Published in 2017 by I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd London • New York www.ibtauris.com Copyright © 2017 Mona Hadler The right of Mona Hadler to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Every attempt has been made to gain permission for the use of the images in this book. Any omissions will be rectified in future editions. References to websites were correct at the time of writing. International Library of Modern and Contemporary Art 27 ISBN: 978 1 78453 340 3 eISBN: 978 1 78672 159 4 ePDF: 978 1 78673 159 3 A full CIP record for this book is available from the British Library A full CIP record is available from the Library of Congress Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: available Typeset by Newgen Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

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To my husband John Vila and to my sons Daniel and Michael In loving memory of my parents, Lucille and Murray Hadler

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Contents List of Figures Acknowledgments

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 Introduction

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1  The Demolition Derby

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2  Military Games of Destruction

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3 



4 Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space

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5  Garage Sales and​Planned Obsolescence

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Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction

 Conclusion

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Notes Index

197 238

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List of Figures 0-​1 Demolition Derby, 1964, Islip Speedway, courtesy of Ken Spooner and Marty Himes 0-​2 Jean Tinguely, Homage to New York, 1960, © 2016 Estate of David Gahr; © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York /​ ADAGP, Paris; Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/​Licensed by SCALA/​Art Resource, NY 0-​3 The Who –​Pete Townshend smashes his guitar & amp at Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival, Windsor Racecourse, Saturday 30 July 1966, Alamy Stock Photos A2PA7 0-​4 Aerial view of the Able Day Explosion over Bikini Lagoon, 1 July 1946. Credit: Government photo National Archives (public domain) 0-​5 Public School 58, Carroll & Smith Streets, Brooklyn, New York, hold a “take cover” drill practice. Here youngsters crawl under their desks/​1962, photo by Walter Albertin; New York World-​Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress (Wikimedia Commons) 1-​1 Demolition Derby, Franklin County Fair, Malone, New York, 23 August 2011, photo by author 1-​2 Demolition Derby, Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, New York, 16 July 2013, photo by author 1-​3 1960s advertisement, The Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia, New York, courtesy of Marty Himes 1-​4 Astronaut John Glenn in Pressure Suit, NASA photograph, Project Mercury, 1962. Credit: Government photo National Archives (public domain) 1-​5 Lucille Hadler in front of her 1960 Ford Galaxy four door sedan 1-​6 Andy Warhol, Orange Car Crash 14 Times, 1963, The Museum of Modern Art, NY © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. /​Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY viii

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11 37 42 44

48 52

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List of Figures

1-​7 Robert Rauschenberg Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953. Traces of ink and crayon on paper, with mat and hand-​ lettered label in ink, in gold-​leafed frame, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Phyllis Wattis Art @ Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/​Licensed by Vaga, New York, NY 1-​8 Rafael Montañez Ortiz, Piano Destruction, London, England DIAS 1966. Photo credit John Prosser, courtesy of Raphael Montañez Ortiz 2-​1 Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), story by Nicholas Ray, Stewart Stern and Irving Shulman, directed by Nicholas Ray 2-​2 Tactics II, Avalon Hill, 1961/​73 2-​3 Buckminster Fuller, The World Game, NY Studio School, summer 1969, courtesy of The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller. 2-​4 Öyvind Fahlström, The Cold War 1963–65. Variable diptych. Tempera on vinyl, metal, plexiglas and magnets 244 × 152.5 × 2.5 cm (each panel) /​96.1 × 60 × 1 inches (each panel) © 2016 Sharon Avery-​Fahlström 3-​1 Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun, 1 January 1954. Great Images in NASA (Wikimedia Commons) 3-​2 Revell model, Abraham Lincoln Submarine, property of Revell Inc., used with permission 3-​3 Toy atomic bomb set in box, Royal Toy Manufacturing Company, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 1950s (Wikimedia Commons) 3-​4 Advertisement for A.C. Gilbert, U-​238 Atomic Energy lab, 1950 (Wikimedia Commons) 3-​5 Operation Doorstep mannequins after test, Nevada, 1953. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain) 3-​6 Operation Doorstep mannequins before test, Nevada, 1953. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain) 3-​7 Airfix plastic soldiers, first edition brown box, 1968–​69 3-​8 SpaceWar, 1961, courtesy MIT Museum 3-​9 Niki de Saint Phalle shooting at Impasse Ronsin, 26 June 1961 Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender ix

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79 81 89

91 100 101

103 104 107 107 112 115

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List of Figures

3-​10 Niki de Saint Phalle shooting at Impasse Ronsin, 26 June 1961 Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender 3-​11 Tinguely in the Junkyard, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender 3-​12 Skipjack model, courtesy RavenArts.com 4-​1 Jane Jacobs, Chair of the Committee to Save the West Village holds up documentary evidence at a press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Streets, 1961. New York World-​Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-​USZ-​62-​137838 (Wikimedia Commons) 4-​2 Probably Notting Hill adventure playground, early 1960s, Copyright Donne Buck/V&A Museum, London, rights cleared 4-​3 Draft card burning, Central Park, New York City, 15 April 1967, screen capture from newsreel footage of Universal News, Universal City Studios (Wikimedia Commons) 4-​4 Suzanne Szasz, site of small residential building recently demolished between 3rd and 2nd Avenues, New York City, November, 1973, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park 551783 (Wikimedia Commons) 4-​5 Tonka Truck No. 3900, Division of Hasbro, Inc. 4-​6 “A Jeep’s-​Eye View of the Seabees in Action,” advertisement for Willys’s Jeeps, Record of the Office of Government Reports, WWII posters 1942–​45. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain) 4-​7 Pontiac hood ornament, 1954, General Motors, photographer Ed Coppola 4-​8 Jean Reinecke, Dazey Ice Crusher, 1939, photographer Ed Coppola. Courtesy of Barbra Jean Reinecke Sedory 4-​9 Claes Oldenburg, The Street, 1960, installation view, photographer unknown, Judson Gallery, Judson Memorial Church, New York, courtesy of Oldenburg van Bruggen Studio x

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147 149 150

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List of Figures

4-​10 Claes Oldenburg, Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, 1969, Cor-​Ten steel, aluminum; coated with resin and painted with polyurethane enamel, 23ft 6″ × 24ft 10 1/​2″ × 10ft 11″ (7.16 × 7.58 × 3.33 m) Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Colossal Keepsake Corporation, Copyright 1969 Claes Oldenburg 4-​11 Vito Acconci, The Peoplemobile, 1979, mobile installation (Amsterdam/​Rotterdam/​Middleburgh/​Eindhoven/​ Groningen); truck, steel panels, vinyl, audio, 24 panels 2″ × 5ft × 7ft, courtesy of the Acconci Studio 4-​12 Vito Acconci, House of Cars, 1983, painted junk cars and car seats, steel, 10ft × 40ft × 6ft, courtesy Acconci Studio 4-​13 Vito Acconci, House of Cars, 1983, inside view, painted junk cars and car seats, steel, 10ft × 40ft × 6ft, courtesy Acconci Studio 5-​1 Martha Rosler, garage sale photograph, 1972, southern California, courtesy of Martha Rosler 5-​2 Arman, Le Plein, Iris Clert Gallery, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender 5-​3 Martha Rosler, garage sale photograph, 1972, southern California, courtesy of Martha Rosler 5-​4 Advertisement for Revell Inc. Boy’s Life, 1960, courtesy Ellen Steel Thomas 5-​5 Arman collecting junk, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender 5-​6 Martha Rosler, Monumental Garage Sale, 1973, University of California, San Diego, courtesy Martha Rosler 6-​1 Slim Pickens as Major “King” Kong, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, directed by Stanley Kubrick 6-​2 War Room, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, directed by Stanley Kubrick

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167 169

172 173 180

184 187

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Acknowledgments This book has been a passion of mine for many years and has benefited from the support of family, friends and colleagues. As it is interdisciplinary and enters areas with large followings –​modelers, gamers, war historians, etc. –​I have availed myself of the expertise of many scholars and aficionados from different backgrounds. This is especially the case with military-​themed toys. As a girl growing up in a traditional home, I was encouraged to play with dolls and other toys earmarked to reinforce societally accepted gender roles. This book has catapulted me into the world of men’s toys, which I had previously experienced second-​hand, watching my brothers and small sons at play. I am indebted to friends and relatives (husband, brother, nephew, and sons) whose memories I mined as they reminisced about making models and then crashing them, or playing with plastic soldiers and military board games. I have now tried my hand at these games, although I stopped short of actually driving in a demolition derby. I did, however, talk to many drivers and am appreciative of them, too, for explaining the rules and sharing their passion for the sport and pride in their altered vehicles. I am also grateful to the historians of the derby, Marty Himes and Ken Spooner, for generously providing information and photographs. A special thanks goes to Douglas Towne, the editor of the Journal of the Society for Commercial Archeology, for enthusiastically publishing my article on the demolition derby which spearheaded this book. Among my art history friends, I am indebted to Fereshteh Daftari for helping in major ways to bring this book to fruition. I thank Joan Marter who has been an early collaborator on the theme of art and the bomb. As editor of the Woman’s Art Journal, she has published my articles on Lee Bontecou, which are formative for sections of this book. I have also relied heavily on the artist Ellen K. Levy who has graciously shared aspects of her deep knowledge of the intersection of art and science. xii

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Acknowledgments

My colleagues at the Graduate Center and Brooklyn College have contributed in many ways. I particularly thank Rachel Kousser, a classicist who works on destruction and generously shared her time and scholarly acumen by reading, editing, and discussing sections of this book. Likewise I thank David Joselit for reading the introduction and for his insightful comments on the project. I am grateful to architectural historian Malka Simon, who first led me to the adventure playground movement, and to my knowledgeable colleague in the music department, David Grubbs. Others who helped in different ways include Marta Gutman, who shared thoughts on postwar urbanism, Romy Golan, Anna Indych-​Lopez, John Maciuika, Irene Sosa, Judy Sund, my former student Midori Yamamura, and my assistant Bree Lehman. I also wish to acknowledge SUNY historian and sociologist Gretchen Herrmann, whose ideas were critical to my chapter on the garage sale. This book has been immensely enriched by the efforts of many artists. Vito Acconci, my colleague at Brooklyn College, has been supportive of the project, sharing his memories and supplying photographs and documentation. I also thank Martha Rosler for her thoughtful responses and wonderful photographs, and Raphael Montañez Ortiz who gave generously of his time and provided important information and photographs. The foundations of several artists magnanimously offered assistance, including those of Niki de Saint Phalle, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Öyvind Fahlström. I am appreciative of all those who granted photograph permissions, in particular Shelley Lee of the Lichtenstein Foundation, Jana Shenefield of the Niki Charitable Art Foundation, Beth Lathrop of the Strong National Museum of Play, Sharon Avery-​Fahlström, Barbra Jean Reinecke Sedory, Ellen Steel Thomas, the estate of Buckminster Fuller, the Revell Company, the Donne Buck Archive of Play and Playgrounds at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Artists Rights Society (ARS), Raven Arts, and the MIT Museum. Numerous librarians and archivists have helped with my project. I would like to recognize in particular the art librarian at Brooklyn College, Miriam Deutsch, for her many efforts on my behalf, and extend gratitude to others in that library, including Sherry Warman, who ordered a seemingly endless supply of books and articles for me. A  special thanks goes xiii

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Acknowledgments

to photographer Ed Coppola. With alacrity and humor, he photographed, found, and readied images for publication. I have benefited from institutional support from the college and university in the form of a sabbatical, released time from teaching, and funding from the Professional Staff Congress/​City University of New York (PSC CUNY) Research Foundation. I would like to particularly thank my excellent editor Baillie Card, whose challenging comments greatly enhanced the text, the staff at I.B.Tauris, including Lisa Goodrum, for their professionalism, and Margaret Barlow for her fine editing and encouragement. Above all my gratitude goes to my family, my husband John Vila and sons Daniel and Michael, who traveled with me year after year to the remote town of Malone, New York, to watch the demolition derby and have supported me and my work (in countless ways) with love and enthusiasm. I dedicate this book to them and to my parents, Lucille and Murray Hadler, who would never have attended a demolition derby, but who fostered the spirit of intellectual curiosity that fuels this study.

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  1

Introduction

The destructive character sees nothing permanent. But for this very reason he sees ways everywhere. Where others encounter walls or mountains, there, too, he sees a way. But because he sees a way everywhere, he has to clear things from it everywhere. Not always by brute force; sometimes by the most refined. Because he sees ways everywhere, he always positions himself at crossroads. No moment can know what the next will bring. What exists he reduces to rubble, not for the sake of the rubble, but for that of the way leading through it. Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character” (1931)1 On stage I  stood on the tips of my toes, arms outstretched, swooping like a plane. As I  raised the stuttering guitar above my head, I felt I was holding up the bloodied standard of endless centuries of mindless war. Explosions. Trenches. Bodies. The eerie screaming of the wind. Pete Townshend, Who I Am, A Memoir (2010)2 “Eniwetok and Luna Park” may seem a strange pairing, the H-​bomb test site in the Marshall Islands with the Paris funfair loved by the surrealists. But the endless newsreel clips of

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Destruction Rites nuclear explosions that we saw on TV in the 1960s (a powerful incitement to the psychotic imagination, sanctioning everything) did have a carnival air, a media phenomenon which Stanley Kubrick caught perfectly at the end of Dr. Strangelove. J.G. Ballard, notes to 1970 The Atrocity Exhibition (1990)3 Iconoclasm is when we know what is happening in the act of breaking and what the motivations for what appears as a clear project of destruction are; iconoclash, on the other hand, is when one does not know, one hesitates, one is troubled by an action for which there is no way to know, without further inquiry, whether it is destructive or constructive. Bruno Latour, “What Is Iconoclash? Or Is There a World beyond the Image Wars?” (2002)4

It was 1961 and thousands crowded the stands to watch the wildly popular spectator sport, the Demolition Derby. Cars devoid of glass windows and doctored for safety lined up, waited for the signal and then crashed into each other until a winning vehicle remained running. A startling rite of destruction took hold in the United States and was quickly repeated across the country and aired on national television. In 1960, Jean Tinguely staged a performance of his self-​destructing machine, Homage to New York. Two years later the Korean Fluxus artist Nam June Paik smashed his violin at the Dada music festival in Düsseldorf, followed in another two years by Pete Townshend of The Who demolishing his guitar to crowds of cheering youth –​a practice he repeated for years thereafter. In art and mass culture, destruction was a ubiquitous theme in the early sixties. This book, with an emphasis on the ephemeral practices endemic to the 1950s to 1970s, explores the appeal of destruction in the postwar era and the ways in which it can be construed as a constructive force. Although much has been written about destruction in art, it is my contention that it marked the visual culture as well, in both its humorous and fearsome aspects. From red-​hot candies to duck-​and-​cover drills, the lighthearted and the ominous were constant bedfellows –​the meeting of the nuclear test site Eniwetok and the Paris funfair Luna Park, to use J.G. Ballard’s words. It is this complicated subjectivity, what Bruno Latour calls an iconoclash, 2

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Figure 0-​1  Demolition Derby, 1964, Islip Speedway, courtesy of Ken Spooner and Marty Himes.

Figure 0-​2  Jean Tinguely, Homage to New York, 1960, © 2016 Estate of David Gahr; © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris; Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/​Licensed by SCALA/​Art Resource, NY.

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Figure 0-​3  The Who –​Pete Townshend smashes his guitar & amp at Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival, Windsor Racecourse, Saturday 30 July 1966, Alamy Stock Photos A2PA7.

for an act that oscillates between construction and destruction that is at issue here. Unique in its in-​depth focus on the ephemeral visual culture of the era and its link to high art, this book uses the overarching theme of destruction, so key to the atomic age, as a unifying subject. Problematizing comparisons between Tinguely and the demolition derby, Niki de Saint Phalle’s firings and sport shooting, called Tirs, Lee Bontecou’s sculptures and Revell model kits, Martha Rosler’s garage sale performances and their suburban brethren, to name a few pairings, I argue that mass culture and high art range over the same territory. My intention is not to source authorial production in “low” anonymous art but to contend that strategies of play, gifting, anarchist freedom or networks of what Michel de Certeau calls “antidiscipline” reclaimed destruction in the public sphere and the art museum at the same time, albeit with significant differences. This book addresses varied yet interconnected manifestations of postwar visual culture, ranging from the demolition derby (so reminiscent of the ubiquitous war games of the era), to mid-​century hobbyists assembling 4

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Introduction

plastic nuclear toys, to playgrounds situated in bomb sites, to the rise of garage sales where goods designed for obsolescence and destined for the garbage heap were repurposed by local communities. Thus the ultimate destructive acts of the fifties and sixties were transformed by ephemeral actions in the everyday. Families played military board games, and children dug roads with their new Tonka bulldozers while vast tracts of land were being destroyed or “cleansed” under the rubric of urban renewal, and World War II naval construction battalions were heroized. On 6 August 1945, the American military dropped a nuclear bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima, causing the death of many thousands of victims and beginning an era that was marked by fear, paranoia, black humor and a heightened “imagination of disaster,” to use Susan Sontag’s description of the genre of post-​apocalyptic science-​fiction films that dominated the era. The popular press contributed with images such as Collier’s magazine’s 5 August 1950 mock photo of a nuclear explosion in New York City. The nuclear arms buildup, Cold War standoffs and Cuban Missile Crisis kept the issues alive in the press and the public imagination through the early sixties. The effect of the bomb on the politics and culture of the Cold War era has been the subject of a vast inquiry that has spread into art historical studies. While artists at times grappled with the sublime implications of nuclear annihilation, designers incorporated whimsical allusions to atomic structure in clocks, textiles and ubiquitous kitsch objects. Filmmakers and novelists imagined post-​apocalyptic landscapes while the public at large drank atomic cocktails, ate red-​hot candies and wore bikinis. The word bikini itself derives from the rampant fascination with the Bikini Atoll nuclear testing in the Pacific. Wearing skimpy bathing garments clearly made one “hot” in the atomic age  –​so much so that the State of Nevada crowned a Miss Atomic Bomb.5 Filmmakers Jayne Loader and Kevin and Pierce Rafferty documented the age in their 1982 film The Atomic Café, with its absurdly chilling footage of a 1950s atomic fashion show. The soundtrack album, which included fifties favorites such as Little Caesar’s “Atomic Love,” was entitled Atomic Café: Radioactive Rock ‘n Roll, Blues, Country and Gospel. Destruction had become something to be feared, something to consume, and something to spoof. 5

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Figure 0-​4  Aerial view of the Able Day Explosion over Bikini Lagoon, 1 July 1946. Credit: Government photo National Archives (public domain).

World War II (WWII), even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was the site of unprecedented destruction. Paul Fussell, the noted military historian, has characterized the difference between the literatures surrounding the two world wars as one of individual heroism versus anonymous mass killing. He writes: “In contrast to the faceless young automatons of the Second World War, the characters in John Dos Passos’s Great War novel Three Soldiers (1921) spend much of their time asserting their persisting individuality as they buck against the forces opposed to their uniqueness. And significantly those characters have names.”6 WWII literature, Fussell asserts, reacts to the vast increase in wartime anonymity and mass destruction. It was what Jean Cocteau called the wartime “conspiracy of the plural against the singular.”7 In WWI (World War I) an American soldier was one of four million, and in WWII one of sixteen million soldiers who would morph into the postwar –​equally anonymous –​mass marketed GI Joe action figures. Despite Fussell’s distinction, both wars dealt to some degree in anonymity. 6

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Introduction

In WWI, it was the horror of being gassed rather than dying in hand-​to-​ hand combat. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two wars, one that impacted the populace at large, was the number of civilian deaths. Mass killings of innocent populations led to widespread fear. Bombings were notoriously unpredictable and inaccurate. Fussell records that before the war would end bits of 110,000 airmen and 22,000 planes would dot the landscape of Europe and Asia. In the German raids on London, 500 tons of bombs were dropped; only a small fraction of them (30 tons) hit the city, albeit still inflicting massive damage.8 Inexperienced pilots fired too far from their targets and inaccuracy was legion, causing the devastation to innocents such as was recorded in Picasso’s famous painting Guernica, of 1937. Picasso and others bore witness to a new horror of the skies –​a cold fear that transformed the heavens into the space of bombers.9 Aerial bombings increased as the war drew to a close, as did the mass killings they precipitated. From the bombings of European cities to the fire bombings in Japan, innocent populations were victimized. Historian Richard Rhodes quotes Strategic Bombing Surveys as estimating that “probably more persons lost their lives by fire in Tokyo in a six-​hour period than at any [equivalent period of] time in the history of man.”10 Fire storming Dresden was more deadly, but it occurred over a few days. If we combine these wartime deaths with the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the revelations of the millions killed in the Holocaust in Nazi death camps, we can well understand the residual effects of the notion of destruction in the postwar era. My intention is not to make a narrow equation between WWII and the archive of rites of destruction set forth here, but to set an historical framework for the era that most of the population held in collective memory and relived through Cold War tensions. The effect of WWII was pervasive in everyday life in its onslaught to the built environment. Equally impactful, however, were the excesses of the new affluent society, or the “postwar miracle” as it was often called. The destruction of bombed cities led to massive rebuilding campaigns that have been accused of obliterating memory in favor of idealistic, utopian visions. New consumer goods –​objects –​proliferated and were widely advertised on television. They too were subject to a comparable demise. The corporate philosophy of planned obsolescence, so key to the postwar economic miracle, encouraged a regular destruction of objects to 7

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make way for an endless supply of newer models. Such destruction, or its refusal –​as evidenced by the rise of garage sales for ­example –​grew in proportion to postwar consumer excess. Destruction and excess paired dangerously, playfully, and subversively. Similarly, a heightened interdependence between military and industrial growth –​commonly called the military-industrial complex –​marked the era. It became nearly impossible to distinguish between civilian and military sectors of the economy –​just as war machinery increased so did destruction-​themed toys and games. As Manuel De Landa claims, “perhaps what signaled the merging of the two sectors was the mathematical procedures used by the military to organize the mobilization of a nation’s resources … under the name of ‘management science.’”11 Systems analysis became management science and utilized comparable tactics to allocate resources. Without doubt, during the Cold War the fear of total annihilation made the issues of life, death, destruction and survival ubiquitous. The Korean War (1950–​53) and rising Domino Theory paranoia fueled the panic, while in the United States the dreaded McCarthy anti-​communist purges compounded homeland anxiety. What social historian Paul Boyer stresses in this regard is not that people were afraid, but how quickly after the nuclear explosions the primal fear of extinction took hold of the popular imagination.12 And the imagination takes many circuitous routes. Rites of destruction engaged and occluded memory in a ludic and oscillating manner. In the early eighties, art historians and curators began to focus on postwar destruction.13 My own work on the topic dates to the beginning of this century when I co-​chaired a session of the College Art Association on the subject and followed it with an article on representations of atomic destruction that ranged from sublime painting to atomic candies.14 In 2013, perhaps fueled by anxieties about wars and terrorism around the globe, the postwar nuclear experience resurfaced as a theme in major exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art and at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.15 These varied sources helped lay the groundwork for a greater understanding of the artistic response to the bomb in the postwar era, ranging from identifying artists who directly referenced nuclear holocaust to those who employed destruction as an artistic practice. An even larger literature exists on post-​apocalyptic films and on atomic design, but this book is exclusively targeted to examine 8

  9

Introduction

in-​depth the theme of postwar destruction in its synchronous links to the art and ephemeral visual and popular culture of the era. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the image of the mushroom cloud dominated the American media as a veritable incarnation of the “atomic sublime,” a fitting corollary to the Abstract Expressionists’ ruminations on the mythic forces of terror and evil.16 Throughout the Cold War, images of bombs exploding in the air were featured in the press. The chilling grandeur of this footage is captured repeatedly in slow motion in Bruce Conner’s 1976 film CROSSROADS. The ubiquitous mushroom cloud photos served to aestheticize and mythologize the bomb.17 Most depicted majestic, serene, awe-​ inspiring images, separate from its devastating effects. The word “mushroom” itself naturalized the event, treating it as an organic occurrence rather than an act of war.18 The extraordinary beauty of these images transformed the real misery of the events just as the multiple rites of destruction often turned horror into comedy. And although dissent was to grow in the postwar era, the populace toyed with the concept of nuclear warfare, playing surrogate war games, making plastic models of nuclear submarines and competing in survival board games with enthusiasm and humor. To frame the scope of this book, one could contrast the aesthetics of sublime devastation –​the beautiful mushroom cloud –​with the horror of the iconic 1972 photo titled “Accidental Napalm Attack,” of Kim Phuc screaming from the pain of napalm burning her flesh, which so galvanized the anti–​Vietnam War movement in the United States. Alternatively we could bracket this study with egregious acts of cultural destruction: book burnings in the thirties by the Nazis and in the sixties during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which also made public displays of its sacking of cultural artifacts, as featured in the American media at the time.19 The seriousness of these pernicious acts, along with the cruelty that met the civil rights movement in the 1960s, are bereft of the humor and elements of play endemic to many of the rites of destruction featured here. Media headlines directly after the war frequently drew parallels to mythology. Albert Einstein, appearing on the 1 July 1946 cover of Time magazine, was pictured in front of a mushroom cloud as a modern-​day Prometheus –​a “Cosmoclast” they called him. Also in the forties, American 9

10

Destruction Rites

Abstract Expressionist artists, in their “mythic” decade, alluded to the bomb as the site of cosmic or sublime evil in works such as Barnett Newman’s Pagan Void of 1946, for example, that conflates solar eclipses with a greater void of nuclear devastation.20 Sculptor Theodore Roszak wrote eloquently on these fearsome issues, linking his rapacious avian forms with pterodactyls and bomber planes, furthering the conflation of the historic moment with the timeless primitive.21 Just as radioactivity realized the alchemist’s dream by splitting the atom, man replaced the gods as the creator of the sublime. The Abstract Expressionists’ aestheticizing of evil has understandably been critiqued as a way of abdicating responsibility22 –​by this logic Prometheus (not The Manhattan Project) created the bomb, and the explosion itself was a sight of transcendent beauty not unspeakable pain and suffering. I submit here that this form of mythologizing was ubiquitous at the time, not unique to Abstract Expressionism, and helped also to set the tone for the playful rites of destruction addressed here, just as photos of burning children would inspire a different form of activism two decades later. The absurd desire to devise safety plans in the event of a nuclear explosion paralleled the urge to naturalize the bomb. The new Federal Civil Defense Administration aimed its efforts at an attempt, however futile, to make people safe in their everyday lives. The “nuclear family” was to partner with the military and share in the defense strategy.23 The shock was felt in 1949 when the Soviet Union exploded its own nuclear bomb. The ephemeral visual culture became a defense site. Much has been written concerning the American public’s attempts to counter nuclear reprisals, which ranged from duck-​and-​cover air raid drills in the schools, to basement bomb shelters, to utopian plans for atomic cities such as Paul Laszlo’s 1950 Atomville, to government self-​help manuals, including the 1950 guide How to Survive an Atomic Bomb.24 While cultural theorists like Paul Virilio contemplated WWII bunkers in Europe, Americans, with their belief in homegrown ingenuity and their superman complex, created their own survival landscapes.25 Perhaps the most visible sign of this struggle with impending doom and the desire to create and play with destruction was the ubiquity of science-​fiction films about nuclear Armageddons that spun scenarios with survivors trying to traverse desiccated landscapes or fight mutants like Godzilla. These and other post-​apocalyptic plot lines responding to nuclear anxiety have formed the subject of nearly a thousand 10

  11

Introduction

films over the years, with l958 representing a peak year for bomb films.26 This onslaught led Susan Sontag to condemn the movies for encouraging an abdication of responsibility by co-​opting anger into entertainment.27 The response in the masses became more convoluted over the years –​deemed schizophrenic by some historians –​as it oscillated between optimism and fear, with hopes fueled in the mid to late fifties by the first discussions of nuclear disarmament and fears aggravated by news of “accidents” from nuclear fallout.28 Beatniks, those anti-​establishment artists and writers of the late fifties, prophetically railed against the bomb in what Martha Rosler later called a “sour postwar apocalypticism as a counterpoint to the fantastic proclamations of the conquest of time and space….”29 Such reactions were exacerbated by the public’s fear of hydrogen bombs pitted against Eisenhower’s sugar-​coated “Atoms for Peace” speech of 8 December

Figure 0-​5  Public School 58, Carroll & Smith Streets, Brooklyn, New York, hold a “take cover” drill practice. Here youngsters crawl under their desks, 1962, photo by Walter Albertin; New York World-​Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress (Wikimedia Commons).

11

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Destruction Rites

1953.30 The war, it has been said, “made the world safe for Disneyland.”31 In fact, the 1956 book The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend the Atom envisioned a utopian time when the atom was “on its way to light our houses, to toast our bread, and to run our television sets and vacuum cleaners.”32 The incongruous humor of statements like these, where one imagines dancing atoms cheerfully aiding the smiling fifties housewife in her New Look dress and high heeled shoes, like Disney’s mice dressing Cinderella, fed the carnivalesque spirit of the day. The atomic genie, the hero of the book, captured the tenuous optimism of the era. Disney’s book gave a nod at the beginning of the text to the international Atoms for Peace conference in Geneva held the previous year, and then proceeded to mine the tale of the “Fisherman and the Genie” from the Arabian Nights to support and mythologize its position. Briefly summarized, the villainous genie in the bottle is given a second chance. He reemerges as enlightened and friendly in the guise of the fifties dream of nuclear cataclysm reborn as miraculous atomic energy. Once again fiction mythologized the truth but concomitantly destruction became playful. It is this ludic spirit of the carnival that comes to a head in the postwar era and wanes with the ratcheting up of the Vietnamese conflict and the radicalization of the youth. The ambivalence of play found in Our Friend the Atom or in atomic cocktails shifts for the most part to overt commitment, also made visible in multiple rites of destruction –​from cars crashing in fairgrounds to young people burning their draft cards.33 The artistic response to this culture of destruction was as multivalent as the public’s, culminating symbolically perhaps in the Atomium, a 335-​foot-​ high construction of an atom that presided over the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, which touted “humanism and technology” as its theme. Previously, a number of postwar European artists attempted to reclaim nuclear energy in an earnest manner as an optimistic harbinger of progress linked to an experimental vision of artistic creation. A group called Arte Nucleare, formed in Milan as early as 1952, climaxing in a 1957 exhibition at that city’s Galleria San Fedele that included a work by Yves Klein and manifestos signed by Klein, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and others. An exalted liberationist tone pervades their writings: “Only the nuclearist can restore life to the dialogue between the forces of the liberated cosmos and the man who liberates them…. The nuclearists are the hope of the world.”34 Such 12

  13

Introduction

bogus optimism made its way into the fifties living room in the form of George Nelson’s much-​admired atomic clock. Yet even within the triumphal language of the nuclearists, the imagery of some of their paintings strikes a cautionary and critical note.35 One could not, it seems, be without doubt in the face of such uncontrollable forces set forth in the world. And the blurry, indistinct photographs of the day, such as those that would spark the Cuban Missile Crisis a few years later, helped erode simple Cold War binaries and notions of ideological certainty.36 One discovers, in fact, a combination of the fear, beauty, sublime reverence and humor marking examples of the artistic reaction to the bomb –​just as we find in the popular culture, from its demolition derbies to its plastic models of war machines. Bruce Conner, for example, pairs images of race cars crashing and surfboarders with the atomic explosion in his 1958 experimental film, A MOVIE. The wry humor of Yves Klein’s 1958 proposal that the fallout from scientists’ “cobalt bomb” be tinted blue by his IKB procedure finds parallels in much of the visual culture in its ambivalent rites of destruction.37 A radiated blue rain would carry both agency and beauty. Destruction as a creative principle, ludic or not, marks the work of postwar artists from the United States to Europe to Japan.38 Artists of the era marshaled techniques of destruction into aesthetic creations –​from the sculptor Lee Bontecou who made soot drawings with the oxygen turned down on the welding torch, to Alberto Burri who used a technique called combustion to burn materials including plastic, to Yves Klein who burned his Fire Paintings of 1961–6​2, to Yoko Ono who sat impassively while audience members sauntered to the stage, wielded sharp scissors and cut her clothes in various performances of her 1964 Cut Piece. Ono herself, whose work has been interpreted in the context of a postwar Japan reeling from the effects of the bomb,39 emphasized the recuperative side of her practice by comparing her own actions to the Buddha’s allegorical surrendering of his body to the jaws of a tiger.40 In its dual staging of cutting and offering,41 her performance finds resonance here. So too in the visual culture. The Who musician Pete Townshend, whose demolitions epitomized the idea of creative destruction, even described the practice as “sculpting.” In a dramatic introduction to his 2010 memoir, he captured the spirit of his first 1964 guitar smash: “in a mad frenzy I thrust the damaged guitar up into the ceiling over and over again. What had been 13

14

Destruction Rites

a clean break becomes a splintered mess, I hold the guitar up to the crowd triumphantly. I haven’t smashed it: I’ve sculpted it for them.”42 Townshend, who was born in 1945 and grew up in war-​torn London, states succinctly: “I am British. I am a Londoner. I was born in West London just as the devastating Second World War came to a close. As a working artist I have been significantly shaped by these three facts, just as the lives of my grandparents and parents were shaped by the darkness of war. I was brought up in a period when war still cast shadows, …”43 He pairs the war with its “syncopated echoes,” to music: “big bands and bomb shelters, V2s and violins, clarinets and Messerschmitts … the wails, strafes, sirens, booms and blasts …”44 It is not the purpose of this introductory chapter to chronicle the vast response to the bomb as either a fertile or subversive model for artistic creation but rather to lay the groundwork for the equally rich and complicated response in the ephemeral visual culture –​for multiple and generative rites of destruction. Artists and the public at large worked through the same issues. In each chapter, several relevant, if not exhaustive, examples of artistic production parallel rites of destruction in the popular visual culture. Needless to say, one cannot reduce the role of destruction in postwar art and visual culture to a reaction to the death and devastation of war or to Cold War fears. Although these factors can be a motivating force, as Townshend so clearly acknowledged, and they certainly form historical bedrock, issues of creative destruction are endemic to modern and contemporary art beyond the postwar moment are broad and cannot be attributed to a single cause. Destruction is a salient postwar issue, but creative destruction can be in itself exhilarating. And so here I navigate an entangled course between an historical study with a particular context in both the postwar era and in modernity at large, to one that asks broader questions that surpass this historic moment. The many authors in the exhibition catalogue for Iconoclash:  Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art, 2002, curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, nuance and expand the idea of creative destruction. Caroline Jones, for example, argues that destruction also underlies seemingly transcendent art: “Artistic rejections, subtractions, negations, cancellations, censorings, occlusions, encryptions and denials are the everyday destructions that constitute the production of modernist art objects.”45 14

  15

Introduction

Latour himself concludes that iconoclastic destruction throughout the ages is inseparable from the production of new images: “The more art has become a synonym for the destruction of art, the more art has been produced, evaluated, talked about, bought and sold, and yes, worshipped.”46 And Dario Gamboni writes: “Attempts to get rid of a specific image or of images at large almost invariably lead to a proliferation of new images. The gesture of aggression itself, in retrospect or seen from a different perspective, can reveal itself to be a gesture of reverence –​and vice versa.”47 The ambiguities underlying the concept of creative destruction are clearly central to modern and contemporary art, dating at least to Nietzsche’s writings, which had a widespread influence on artists and intellectuals. Furthermore, ruminations on aesthetics and the imagery of destruction lead to other discourses apart from those on iconoclasm, since to some degree all beautiful, haunting and affective works on the theme of destruction engage in a profound intermingling of affect and intention.48 Latour argues cogently for the generative role of destruction specifically in his own time. He writes: Nowhere else but in contemporary art has a better laboratory been set up for trying out and testing the resistance of every item comprising the cult of image, of picture, of beauty, of media, of genius…. Everything has been slowly experimented against and smashed to pieces, from mimetic representation, through image making, canvas, color, artwork, all the way to the artist herself, her signature, the role of museums, of the patrons, of critics –​not to forget the Philistines, ridiculed to death.49

Townshend explains his destructive guitar smashing similarly, as signaling that “[t]‌he old, conventional way of making music would never be the same.”50 But what Latour seems to relish above all are the ambiguities, layered subjectivities and double binds inherent in the urge to destruction. And it is here that Latour’s concept of an “iconoclash” is especially helpful:  “Iconoclasm is when we know what is happening in the act of breaking and the motivations for what appears as a clear project of destruction are; iconoclash, on the other hand, is when one does not know, one hesitates, one is troubled by an action for which there is no way to know, without further inquiry, whether it is destructive or 15

16

Destruction Rites

constructive.”51 For Latour, problematizing and engaging the notion of the iconoclash is key. Although Latour relishes ambiguities and paradoxes and tries to avoid ossifying rubrics, he does offer the following list of pertinent questions to ask of iconoclastic gestures: the inner goals of the icon smashers, the roles they give to the destroyed images, the effects this destruction has on those who cherished those images, how this reaction is interpreted by the iconoclasts, and finally, the effects of destruction on the destroyer’s own feelings.52 Likewise, with regard to the demolition derby we will consider why drivers smash cars, what the cars symbolize, what effect this particular ritual of destruction has on the players, how the audience perceives and identifies with the games and to what degree the games are liberating rites of antiproduction. Similar ideas also will be addressed in relation to destructive toys, urban renewal and, conversely, a refusal of destruction or obsolescence that motivates the swap economics of garage sales. As an historian of the postwar era, I have heeded Latour’s directive to ascertain what people want to protect and to destroy.53 Latour refers to the maniacal joy in destruction in the hilarious sacrilege.54 These words reverberate throughout this book and in particular in the chapter on the demolition derby. The pleasure of destroying, of breaking the rules, appeals to the trickster in us. While this subversive humor is transgressive and Bakhtinian or carnivalesque, it also is indicative of the pleasure in the everyday as we engage in acts of antidiscipline. Can one not laugh at Pipilotti Rist as she blithely breaks car windows in her 1997 video Ever is Over All, or manage to suppress a chuckle while we gasp as Ai Weiwei smashes a Han Dynasty urn in 1995? In the everyday we can be surreptitious subversives who refuse authority. The demolition derby drivers who work in garages enjoy outrageous acts of destruction against the product and symbol of the industry that employs them. Families urged to discard objects to make room for items of comparable or poorer quality 16

  17

Introduction

sporting newly designed exteriors can make a game of it. In recreational, communal garage sales they happily exchange them in underground economies as a refusal to accept corporate planned obsolescence. Rites of destruction occur in the everyday and are informed by the politics of the everyday. For this reason, de Certeau’s network of antidiscipline accords comfortably with Latour’s notion of an iconoclash. The dual subjectivity involved in acts of creative destruction mimics acts of antidiscipline. They all speak to “the ingenious ways in which the weak make use of the strong,” which he believes lends “a political dimension to everyday practices.”55 Issues of agency and power, or the lack thereof, haunt his text. In fact, de Certeau’s resistance has been described as somewhat conservative in its slow and tenacious refusal to adapt to capitalist culture,56 and this sub-​rosa, or oblique form of critique fits many rites of destruction. While the concept of an iconoclash relates most closely to the demolition derby, it can be loosely interpreted as a generative idea underlying my whole project, as all chapters chart some form of reclamation of destruction –​through play, hobbies, urban renewal and more. Strategies of play, gifting, anarchist freedom and networks of antidiscipline attempt to reclaim destruction in the public sphere and the art museum at the same time, albeit with significant differences. By addressing the complex interrelationships between violence and play in the postwar era, I illuminate ways in which postwar working class men like derby drivers, Cold War hobbyists and avant-​garde artists played with ephemeral rites of destruction. The everyday is the ground zero of this premise, ranging across classes and genders. Humor as well as play is a leitmotif here. The crowds at the demolition derby laugh at the unexpected and the subverting of normal codes and roles. Their jubilance accords with authors who see humor as creating a sense of relief, or a diminishment of one’s fears, or in a Freudian sense allowing for some malicious pleasure at seeing someone in peril while one is comfortably ensconced in the bleachers or grandstand. But there are of course multiple ideas across disciplines as to what humor is or means. There is the transgressive freedom of carnivalesque humor where the worker becomes the boss and crashes to a pulp the car that symbolizes the unblemished fluidity of American corporate success. Or, more broadly, humor can escort freedom –​the freedom to abandon reason and to play.57 17

18

Destruction Rites

This book reiterates Latour’s questions and asks readers to ponder the problematics of destruction in the postwar era –​to come to grips with what was to be saved and what was to be destroyed and whether this binary, like so many others, should itself be discarded. The goal here is to enhance our understanding of the historical period by examining not just WWII but a period that included the Korean War, the civil rights movement (with its violence broadcast on television) and the Vietnam War controversy that increasingly galvanized the left. Periodization matters from the immediate aftermath of WWII in the late forties, to the Cold War frenzy of the fifties and early sixties, to the rising racial and antiwar dissent of the late sixties capstoned by the upheavals of 1968. The time frame of this book thus fits and stretches what commonly is called “the long sixties.” Although, the narrative at times extends to the seventies (and in one work by Vito Acconci to the early eighties), the text returns repeatedly to the years 1960 to 1962 as a pivotal moment still entrenched in the culture of the fifties but clearly on the brink of change. In the summer of 1962, as demolition derby cars collided at the Islip racetrack outside of New York City, the Algerian War ended, the United States resumed nuclear atmospheric testing, the Cuban Missile Crisis was poised to erupt, and the horrors of WWII atrocities were once again in the news with the recently ended trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.58 All impacted rites of destruction in the ephemeral visual culture. From an historical point of view, there is a vast difference between the immediate postwar era and the late sixties and seventies, but by focusing on the visual culture of destruction and parallels in artistic production, it is possible to both establish thematic continuity and chart significant changes over the years. This book generally addresses phenomena that originate in the United States, such as the demolition derby or garage sales, but in other instances, such as my discussion of the British adventure playground movement, I look across the Atlantic to England, France or Germany (and sometimes globally) but albeit in a selective manner. In this sense Destruction Rites aligns with those revisionist books that examine the postwar era from a transatlantic perspective.59 The focus here, however, is on problematizing the interconnections between art and visual culture to further our understanding of what creative destruction could and did mean in the ephemeral 18

  19

Introduction

visual culture in the United States, and to a lesser degree in Great Britain and Europe. Destruction Rites engages ephemeral actions, many of which fall under the rubric of play. It was, after all, an era that fashioned Cold War conflict as a game of dominoes, mass marketed military board games, invented the interactive arcade shooter game SpaceWar and described the popular 1970 computer game Life as one of life, death and survival. Given the importance of these games, the words of foundational play theorists such as Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois, writing in the forties and fifties, respectively, and more recent authors on the subject are brought to bear. Agonistic sports, Caillois opines in his 1958 book on play, combine competition with mimicry, and it is the spectator who identifies through mimicry. Many popular games in the Cold War era follow (and in some ways parody) the confrontational tactics of the superpowers with their clear adversaries –​opposing armies, for example, traversed the new map boards in the game of tactics. Some artists, on the other hand, such as Öyvind Fahlström, used games to subvert such antagonistic encounters and instead to foster joint strategies of mutual gain or encourage a new participatory democracy. All were toying with destruction. When the public played these adversarial games, it was often with a level of humor and subversion. Rather than establishing a simple binary here –​artists critique while the public at large mimics the military, I argue for an ambiguous response as both artists and the public try to come to terms on some level with impending doom. The crowds at a demolition derby thus engage in the complex subjectivity of the iconoclash and with laughter and fear replay the ubiquitous bipolar response to Cold War tensions. And since what is at issue here is in part related to WWII and its lingering effects on memory, trauma studies offer useful insights for understanding the residual effects of war on rites of destruction as they unfolded in everyday situations as a form of play –​at the juncture of the ordinary and the life-​threatening. As this juncture was problematized by the media, in particular television, which famously blurred distinctions between the imagined and the real, it is important to question, then, how the media presented the “truth” and in what way this relates to the fiction of the game and furthers elements of ambiguity. 19

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Destruction Rites

But trauma is only one text at work here. Rites of destruction perform some kind of catharsis which works through trauma but can equally have pleasurable, perverse, transgressive, anti​social or carnivalesque modalities. Artist Gustav Metzger described the euphoria of the period under scrutiny: “It was full of dangers, especially the danger of nuclear war. I am suggesting that that was an element in the energy and vitality of the 60s. So, art and culture and euphoria, and so much else are one large element in the reality of the 60s.”60 The demolition derby, for example, is a violent game but also a humorous and thrilling one that performs many different rites including some dealing with trauma. In this regard this book aligns with recent academic investigations that veer from trauma studies toward seeing modern societies as “crash cultures,” with crashes as symbolic, creative, material events that help us to understand our modern technological world with its new interrelationships of animals, bodies and machines, and new power relations that mark the everyday.61 Crashes in this regard are one aspect of a broad network or transportation web of social and industrial forces that has been termed automobility.62 As mentioned earlier, another focus of this book is objects: some that are meant to be destroyed but are redeemed, and others such as toys and military games or models that engender a form of play that in itself forms a surrogate rite of destruction. I touch here on material culture studies and how they relate to children as the bearers and makers of culture and in their new role as consumers.63 Objects, therefore, are equally key to my thesis, and their use must be problematized. Those articles selected –​the car, goods in tag sales, plastic models –​are discussed in light of some ideas put forth by various authors who address the meaning of “things.” My book therefore aligns with what has been deemed the materialist turn of much recent writing and relies on work by several well-​known authors who address the social role of objects, removing them from the discourse on the commodity, including Arjun Appadurai, Igor Kopytoff and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. As the latter tells us in The Meaning of Things: Domestic Objects and the Self, he endeavored to “examine the role of objects in people’s definition of who they are, of who they have been and who they wish to become.”64 Household items, for example, form “an ecology of signs that reflects as well as shapes the pattern of the owner’s self.”65 As an illustration of his method he inverts the omnipresent anti-​gun control slogan, “Guns 20

  21

Introduction

don’t kill people, people do,” writing, “There are no ‘people’ in the abstract, people are what they attend to, what they cherish and use. A person who has a gun in his or her house is by that fact different from one that does not.”66 Latour fits this focus on objects, too, in his radical breakdown of the distinctions between humans and non humans. As Graham Harman writes about Latour’s actor-​network theory, “since Latour grants all actants an equal right to existence, regardless of size or complexity, all natural and artificial things must count as actants as long as they have some sort of effect on other things.”67 Latour’s actants are people and objects –​from children to raindrops or bullet trains. He collapses the rift between the thinking human and the unknowable world, Harman continues, “since for Latour the isolated Kantian human is no more and no less an actor than are windmills, sunflowers, propane tanks and Thailand.”68 Destruction Rites is interdisciplinary and draws on a wide range of theoretical writing, from feminist theory to trauma and leisure studies, but relies heavily on the discourse of objects. For example, Daniel Miller theorizes the humanity of the car,69 while Arjun Appadurai argues for the importance of commodities in motion or for the social life of things,70 and Igor Kopytoff puts forth his notion of the biography of objects.71 I too plot the life of things as they pass from owner to owner, perform gender roles and are subject to rites of destruction. This book addresses objects at a particular historical moment, at the onset of their heightened commodification –​mass marketed war games and plastic model kits of nuclear weapons to name a few. And while the public shopped, artists acted as both bricoleurs, assemblaging such items, and cynical realists, critiquing such commodification72 –​but they traversed the same terrain. The postwar era witnessed not only a surge in the production of things but also their destruction and creative repurposing. Overall, this book addresses the intimate relationship between production, consumption and interpretation at the time as well as the interconnectedness of social and artistic practice. In my archive of case studies –​demolition derbies, garage sales, mid-century hobbies and adventure playgrounds –​all involved ephemeral practices that were new at the time and all reclaimed destruction, albeit in different manners. Although many of these rites continue today, derbies and garage sales, for example, my study here is historical. 21

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Destruction Rites

I focus on their roots in the postwar era and acknowledge that various issues may impact their increasing or waning popularity over the decades. These may include nostalgia, cultural memory, continuing concerns about obsolescence, warfare, traumatic deaths, desire for transgressive play and the satisfaction of engaging in acts of antidiscipline in the everyday. I have talked with derby drivers and war-​gamers who have provided valuable insights into these activities, but this information aside, I curtail my analysis to the fifties and sixties. A note on terminology is in order here –​in particular the term visual culture (which recently has taken on somewhat differing connotations and emphases). For some visual culture has to do issues of power, for others it involves rethinking our understanding of objects, and for others still it is methodology that comes close to anthropology in a privileging of cultural artifacts and rituals. It marks a shift away from artists and their production to consumers, objects and rituals.73 I will opt in favor of David Joselit’s characterization when he opines, citing Thomas Crow, that none of the shifts are entirely new except in magnitude: “There is a change in emphasis, away from formal analysis, the artist’s oeuvre, traditional media, and artistic production, and toward cultural or discourse analysis, commercial artifacts, new technologies and aesthetic consumption. In other words, visual culture and art history mutually serve each other’s Other within a constituent dichotomy whose division of the field is retained as polarities of value are reversed.”74 The question of how and when they cover the same territory is at stake here. The concept of ephemerality also needs some unpacking. Much of this book engages issues of ephemeral play and leisure activities. It focuses on games, hobbies, model making, toy trucks and weekend garage sales with used goods displayed in a makeshift manner. As a book on the theme of destruction, however, many of these activities and objects relate to the material culture of war and ally with the vast literature on this topic. From the collecting of military artifacts to a discussion of related tourism,75 it is a discourse that morphs from military history to military material culture. It aligns as well with a reappraisal of materiality and with new conceptions of why we make objects and what roles they play in our lives. The discourse is by nature interdisciplinary, and as Nicholas J. Saunders contends, “modern conflicts are defined by their technologies –​all are wars of the material.”76 22

  23

Introduction

While the extreme circumstances and behaviors that attend war make for a particularly loaded relationship between people, objects and memory, the circumstances of WWII and its aftermath create changes in the materiality of war. If we compare yet again WWI to WWII and its aftermath, mass murder is different when followed by mass marketing. Many of these destruction-​themed toys existed before (soldiers, board games, etc.) but their manufacture and marketing are radically different. They are made of new inexpensive materials such as plastic, packaged in novel ways and advertised in modern glossy magazines or catchy ads on television. Mass marketing tactics lead to greater production and larger sales. More people owning and playing with these toys thereby shifts in significant ways the effects of such ephemeral actions. Rather than appealing to hobbyists or fan clubs, they impact the culture at large. During the timeframe of this book artists also used ephemeral materials and strategies, from collage to performance, to process destruction, and many such examples are featured here. Ephemerality marked the practices of the Fluxus and Situationist artists, for example, from the late fifties onwards. Debates over appropriate languages to express social and political concerns were widespread. Just as Walter Benjamin had problematized the social realist image in favor of the mass-​produced multiple, the efficacy of social realist art was called into question. Indeed, as Julia Bryan-​ Wilson subtly chronicles, questions of aesthetics and authorship versus anonymous and ephemeral practices plagued the politics of the AWC (Art Workers’ Coalition) as its members attempted to address the destruction of the Vietnam era.77 This book engages the mass culture of destruction, which was so often an object of critique in the 1950s. From Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White’s 1957 anthology Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, to Clement Greenberg’s catalytic 1939 article “Avant Garde and Kitsch” (republished in the Rosenberg anthology), the Frankfurt school-​ inflected intellectual press decried the pernicious effects of the mass culture.78 Reyner Banham attributed some of these reservations to the political climate in postwar London, when one admired American Pop culture but was thwarted from this predilection. He recalled how: “…this Cold War distinction made, in the forties, a division which runs right through English thinking, and indeed much of American thinking (people like Dwight 23

24

Destruction Rites

MacDonald): that to accept, to enjoy, the products of Pop, the products of the entertainment industry, Detroit-​styling and such things, was to betray one’s political position.”79 The fifties critics of mass culture in the United States precede by decades the more contemporary notion of readers as active consumers of mass culture, a position that informs this book. They date to a moment when Fredric Wertham, in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, (although he too hailed from the ostensibly well-​intentioned left) caused a parental panic regarding the imagined impact of comics on juvenile delinquency that led to the implementation of the Comics Code. The same authors in the fifties who denigrated mass culture championed the Abstract Expressionists for their individualism and authenticity of style80 –​a quality that Warhol parodied in his paint by number canvases. In line with Warhol, my book troubles yet again the divide between craft, hobby and art and emphasizes their overlap. Counter to the prevailing wisdom of the fifties, toys and games of destruction featured in this study (and often developed at this moment) were consumed creatively: to work through violence, assert independence, test the humor of carnivalesque inversions, contribute to a language of critique or provide an intense form of pleasure (at times perverse pleasure) satisfying in itself. My interpretation of the demolition derby, for example, aligns with those writers who advocate for an empowered consumer –​who destroys cars not because he is downtrodden by conformity and lobotomized by the assembly line but to creatively repurpose the cars and engage in gleeful acts of antidiscipline. Play then, particularly in its guise of iconoclash, is a form of agency, and this position veers radically from the wary critics of the fifties. Gender issues are of key importance here, particularly since the theme of destruction often falls squarely within the stereotypic purview of masculine pursuits: the military, automobiles, war toys, etc. While this situation can lead to formulaic conceptions or to a masculinist position or one that homogenizes issues of race and class, I aim for a more nuanced discussion of gender, one that avoids essentializing or simplifying. Yoko Ono, for example, who came from wealth and privilege, gave her clothes in a different spirit from the working class women who participate in gift-​like garage sales. Nonetheless, gender is another avenue into exploring how 24

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Introduction

many Americans of the 1960s “creatively repurposed” common objects, activities and behaviors to express different subjectivities. Although women were not expected to engage in acts of destruction, play allowed for such actions, thereby interrupting the passive reproduction of social norms. Play makes space for agency. With regard to gender, two goals guided this project. The first was to chronicle what happened, but to make this history more complex and the discussion of gender more nuanced by asking if women made war models and played with toys of destruction and then addressing women artists who did these things. The second was, when assigning gender implications to a practice, to illuminate how it is performed and identity constructed. Set gender roles were carefully created and nurtured in the fifties. Parents bought dolls for their daughters and cars and trucks for their sons. Girls in public schools in the United States were sent to home economics classes to learn cooking and sewing while boys mastered the use of tools in shop. Nonetheless, even with the culture’s attempt to construct clear gender divisions, girls might cross-​dress their dolls and boys play with their sisters’ Barbies.81 Similarly, the demolition derby was fundamentally a male sport but one that engaged and sometimes was reshaped by modeling performances of hypermasculinity. Even in garage sales gender was carefully performed, with men setting up the tables and women organizing and running the sales, each taking the roles they were expected to play. And so, following this model, the chapters in this book are intended to both add texture to the history of gender relations and highlight or debunk applicable constructions of heteronormative behavior in the postwar population at large. Destruction Rites has five chapters following this introductory one, including the Conclusion. Chapter 1, “The Demolition Derby,” explores its history in the sixties including its debut on prime time television, describes the rules of the game and looks closely at the painted cars themselves as artworks. While there is a celebratory, patriotic attitude among the attendants, the games –​arising in tandem with the militaryindustrial complex –​allow for the geopolitics of manufactured goods to be played out in a physical arena. As performances of hypermasculinity and carnivalesque inversions, the derby both enacts the machismo of the day and parodies capitalism’s triumphal success with a complicated subjectivity endemic to iconoclashes. This chapter cuts a wide swathe as 25

26

Destruction Rites

it identifies artists who are inspired by the destruction of car crashes or by a (John) Cagean or Fluxus aesthetic. The sport is compared to the self-​destructing art of Jean Tinguely, Gustav Metzger’s ideas on Auto-​ Destructive Art, and Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) events including Rafael Montañez Ortiz’s piano bashings. Ortiz is the only artist included here who directly likens his practice to that of the demolition derby. Chapter 2, “Military Games of Destruction,” examines the ubiquitous war games of the era and their counterparts in the mass culture. These competitions, ranging from field activities, to the use of boards and miniatures, to computer simulations were omnipresent in the postwar era. Their meteoric growth stems in part from a combination of new technologies grafted onto older traditions of war games in a culture that spectacularized and mediatized both play and destruction. When destruction meant annihilation, play was the culture’s fail safe. It was during the heyday of war-​gaming practices organized by RAND Corporation in conjunction with the military that the demolition derby swept into popular consciousness. War games were circulated to think tanks and university settings and featured in media portrayals. Opposing cars attacking each other was a fitting corollary for the superpowers’ nuclear standoffs. All were playing a game of chicken as was famously depicted in the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause. How the demolition derby and other games of destruction (such as the favored board game Tactics) relate to the war games of the era is problematized in this chapter. Television representations and new computer simulations significantly altered the way these exercises were understood as they blurred the distinctions between the real and the fictive. War games were played on the same monitors that could be used in battles. How one knows reality became a question that dovetailed with play theorists’ notions of the “fiction” of the game. Cars demolished each other for sport as weapons headed toward each other in simulations, and the difference between them was slippery. The use of game strategies by artists such as Buckminster Fuller and Öyvind Fahlström is instructive here, but the differences between antagonistic conflict and critical play come to the fore. In this regard I draw on the ideas of play theorists including Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, and Guy Debord. Chapter 3, “Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction,” charts the history of plastic model kits such as those made by Revell, which first 26

  27

Introduction

appeared in the United States in 1951 and sported intricate realistic parts made of injection-​molded thermoplastics. It contextualizes these models (favored ones in the fifties were military), new plastic toy soldiers and GI Joe action figures to their historical moment of Cold War nuclear anxiety and engages them in the discourse of play, leisure studies and hobby culture endemic to the era. Models and toy soldiers existed before this era, of course, but the use of inexpensive plastics and mass marketing techniques made them ubiquitous and encouraged widespread play with destruction, thereby democratizing such ludic practices. At the moment when the masses ceded their fate to leaders who could push the button, all could be in charge of their miniature troops. In addition, plastic toys could level the field through imaginative play or evince a form of realism that reproduced the feared (secret) fighting machines of the day, which further implicated some models in Cold War politics. At the same time they became simulations that edged dangerously close to the “real” in a course charted by Masahiro Mori in his 1970 theorizing of the uncanny valley. While Mori was referring to representations of living creatures (specifically humans) becoming uncomfortably lifelike, I think a parallel can be made that other games and toys became comparably problematic when they grew more realistic, particularly when they flirted with the realities of nuclear devastation. Toys of destruction existed on the borders between consumer excess, traumatic realism and the uncanny valley and facilitated widespread carnivalesque rites of destruction. Artists discussed in this chapter include Lee Bontecou, and Niki de Saint Phalle, whose Tir performances involved shooting at canvases embellished by toy airplanes and other mass marketed trinkets. Bontecou, while assemblaging her large constructions that used parts from abandoned WWII planes, spent hours gluing the new models, including a miniature of the nuclear submarine the USS Skipjack (SSN-​585). Both artists’ practices raise questions of art, labor, hobby, craft and gender. Women’s engagement with male coded toys allowed them to play with destruction while concurrently problematizing issues of gender in the pre-​feminist early sixties. Chapter 4 focuses on multiple aspects of creative destruction in the public space. Perhaps the most impactful element of destruction on daily life in the postwar era arose from the violated and rebuilt landscape. Not 27

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Destruction Rites

only did the bomb raze sites; so did the bulldozer as it cleared large tracts of land for new urban and suburban communities. This chapter addresses these postwar “cleansing” campaigns and their advocates and adversaries: Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs and Michel de Certeau. Although a great deal has been written on this subject, the focus here is on the ephemeral aspects of the destruction: disputes surrounding street life and walkable neighborhoods or urbanism and the everyday, the ubiquity of new construction toys, the birth of adventure playgrounds, and debates over cleanliness and detritus in the public space that were infused with Cold War rhetoric. While the U.S. press lionized the Seabees –​the WWII construction battalions –​postwar children read books on heroic bulldozers and dug the earth with their new Tonka Trucks. At the same time, children in Europe played in bombed-​out streets or junk playgrounds located at bomb sites. Assemblage artists also played with destruction as they salvaged discarded materials from the streets of countless cities in the United States, Europe and Latin America –​from New York to Los Angeles, from Paris to Rio de Janeiro. Reclaiming and repurposing urban junk has been the subject of a vast literature engaging various topics including obsolescence, Neo Dada, trauma and memory, the aesthetics of garbage, consumerism and American hegemony abroad. My particular focus is to provide another context for these practices in the complicated mindset that marks the ephemeral rites of destruction of the postwar era. In this chapter, I revisit early works by Claes Oldenburg, which have been associated with controversial urban renewal strategies in New York and New Haven. Finally, I devote a lengthy section to the artist Vito Acconci, a well-​known figure in public art. During an interview with the artist, quoted at length in the text, Acconci expounds on architecture, ephemerality and destruction and points to J.G. Ballard’s books, The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash, in this context. A performance artist and poet turned public artist and architectural theorist, Acconci is an apt spokesman for issues of performative architecture, play spaces and creative destruction. The chapter focuses on two of Acconci’s works, Peoplemobile and House of Cars –​dated 1979 and 1983, respectively; these works are outside of the period covered here but relate to his earlier concerns and are germane to my thesis. While the first interrogates the form of terrorism that haunts the public space (the 28

  29

Introduction

Baader-Meinhof group, in particular), the second raises questions of ephemerality and urbanism. In House of Cars, automobiles were gutted, welded together and outfitted to form a makeshift housing site inspired by the urban decay visible in cult movies such as Mad Max (1979). In their ambivalent position as derelict housing and vehicles of urban survival, both exist in exactly the liminal space of Latour’s iconoclash. The content of Chapter 5, “Garage Sales and​Planned Obsolescence,” ranges from neighborhood sales to flea markets; from Martha Rosler to Susan Sontag and Andy Warhol; and from the out of date to the uncanny and the camp. The garage sale, which like the demolition derby developed in America in the postwar era, formed a barbed intervention into corporate strategies of planned obsolescence where objects meant for discard were repurposed. The chapter addresses a widespread refusal to destroy, including new forms of collecting. Garage sales shifted used objects from the junkyard to the suburban lawn. Items were for sale, but they were just as frequently gifted for marginal sums as they were sold in a conventional business manner. As the garage sale developed alongside the feminist Wages for Housework movement in the early seventies. I will situate the practice within the parameters of women’s agency and work. Artists include Arman, who filled the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris with refuse (as an accumulation practice rather than a sale), to Martha Rosler whose early garage sale performances held in art spaces contrasted significantly to their suburban brethren. Her theories of gendered consumerism and obsolescence are articulated and contrasted to other models of consumption. Ultimately, her important project valorizes women’s work and engages in institutional critique, thereby veering from the goals and accomplishments of the non ​feminist community of suburban women who organized the early garage sales. Rosler’s practice is significant here as it directly addresses the interrelationship of visual culture and high art that my book targets. Rosler and many of the artists featured throughout have aims and goals divergent from mass cultural participants and producers. Some come from the university, as do Rosler and Acconci, and are conversant with intellectual discourses that enable and encourage a practice of conscious critique. The question of who is in a position to mount such a commentary or to “out” the destruction of the era comes into play here. Nonetheless, 29

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Destruction Rites

I am not establishing a simple binary –​artists critique while the public at large is complicit. Nor do I trace influences or construct a narrative whereby art trumps by subversion while mainstream popular culture is symptomatic of a country contending with the effects of WWII, the threat of nuclear war or the abundance of consumer goods rendered obsolete by capitalist production and marketing. Rather one finds a layered, ambiguous response on the part of both artists and the public as they come to terms with these forces. More important, agency resides in both camps. Mass audiences cultivated and took part in activities that afforded catharsis, pleasure or empowerment (through play, iconoclash and the carnivalesque), and while not an overt condemnation, this engagement amounts to an important, if oblique form of agency. At times some artists censure. But like Tinguely in Homage to New York or Saint Phalle’s Tirs, they often create the kind of loaded iconoclashes that both thrill to and fear destruction in a manner similar to their counterparts in the mass culture who both resist and accommodate in the everyday or, when driven by subcultural forces (as with the demolition derby drivers), celebrate and critique or critique by celebrating. Play strategies are pivotal. Stanley Kubrick, when talking about Dr. Strangelove, explained that he needed to explore nuclear attack dramatically as there was unequivocally no chance to learn from experience.82 And since the Cold War was fundamentally a confrontation of appearances, one battlefield was images.83 The only way then to “think through” annihilation –​in a very practical sense –​is through images, role-​ play, imagination and simulation. Annihilation in the wake of the bomb was unprecedented, which forced creative responses. Both play and the iconoclash were basically forced onto popular American culture by the U.S.  government as part of its propaganda during this period. Play was foisted upon the mainstream via safety drills (playing at safety despite its futility in the face of nuclear warfare) and professional training by war games (play as preparation for war). The iconoclash was encouraged by the contradictions of American political ideology in which the populace was taught to fear nuclear annihilation but motivated to embrace nuclear energy; also Americans were dying in crashes even as cars became a potent symbol of American capitalist success, associated with individualism, freedom and technological innovation. The military-​ industrial 30

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Introduction

propaganda is not by any means the only source of such tangled reactions, but the dual subjectivity I identify here was not just a way for people to find catharsis amid the fears of annihilation and postwar trauma, but also a complex instantiation of ideological crisis –​in a time with some seriously conflicted political myths.

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1 The Demolition Derby

When 11,000 people filled the stands at Islip Speedway outside of New York City in 1963 to view the Demolition Derby, they stood, sang the national anthem with hands to heart and, as the press reported, “fortified themselves with soda, popcorn, pizza, cotton candy and ice cream. They grew restless. They stamped their feet. They began shouting: ‘Bring ‘em on!’ 1 Cars altered for safety lined up, waited for the signal and crashed into each other. In popular venues such as public raceways and county fairs, surrounded by fast food vendors and 4-​H exhibits, a startling rite of destruction captivated the American public in the early sixties, was aired on network television, and staged throughout the country and abroad.2 On one September day in 1966 at Islip, for example, 200 cars crashed to the cheers of 14,000 enthusiasts.3 In a celebratory, patriotic ambience, the games allowed for the geopolitics of consumption, obsolescence and warfare to be played out in a physical arena. Seen from above in the bleachers, they mimicked the endless maps that mediatized the march of consumerism and communism –​cars, like dominoes, falling in a charged spatial arena. On a March evening in 1960 in New York City, an audience including art-​world scions such as Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III gathered in The Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden for a comparable event –​the much anticipated performance of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely’s 32

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The Demolition Derby

self-​destructing machine, Homage to New York. The over 27-​foot-​long junk sculpture, comprising an assortment of recycled scraps –​from bicycle wheels to a baby bassinet –​met its demise through a variety of operations that ended with a piano in flames and the audience enveloped in smoke.4 This experiment in artistic destruction did not stand alone in the early sixties. The Korean Fluxus artist Nam June Paik smashed his violin at the Dada music festival in Düsseldorf in 1962, and two years later The Who’s Pete Townshend first demolished his guitar before a crowd of cheering music fans –​a practice he would repeat for years thereafter. Destruction in both its humorous and fearsome aspects was a ubiquitous theme in the art of the early sixties, but it marked the mass visual culture as well. Why did crowds whose composition ranged from America’s capitalist elite to young rock fans, to working class families at popular raceways and county fairs all frequent and lionize rites of destruction? Are these aggressive practices simulations of the era’s ubiquitous war games, networks of antidiscipline, subcultural acts of protest, anti-capitalist and antiproductive critiques, anarchist gestures, rituals of carnivalesque inversion where the disenfranchised possess and destroy the goods of the franchised, potlatch ceremonies of allocation where items are symbolically offered to the public as play, iconoclashes, or complex mediations that in some manner share all of the above? This book will engage these various positions and contextualize them to the early sixties as a problematic and transitional moment wedged between the fifties and the generation of revolt. One could posit that these rituals of destruction are in fact among the earliest manifestations of that impending insurgency. It is not surprising, in this context, that Vietnam War demonstrators chose to burn their draft cards and American flags in protest. And specifically in regard to the demolition derby, destroying the automobile at the height of postwar U.S. corporate capitalism and in advance of late sixties critiques was a loaded act to be sure. If cars in the fifties were the “exact equivalent of the great Gothic Cathedrals,” as Roland Barthes contends in Mythologies,5 then destroying them was arguably a form of iconoclasm or, closer yet, an “iconoclash,” an act that oscillates between construction and destruction, and elicited both levity and fright. 33

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Destruction Rites

Background, History, Rules of the Game Soon after Larry Mendelsohn staged his first demolition derby at Islip in the late fifties, the sport gained momentum. By the spring of 1963, when cultural critic Tom Wolfe chronicled the event in his article for the Herald Tribune, “Clean Fun at Riverhead,” the raceway had hosted 154 derbies in two years and had drawn over a million spectators.6 By 1966, Mendelsohn bragged to a reporter that since 1961 they had wrecked 74,000 cars in 108 different locations across the United States.7 Indeed, the derbies became so popular that ABC’s Wide World of Sports began to televise them, bringing the matches into the homes of people who had never experienced one in person. One New York Times columnist alleged that soon after the show began in 1961, ABC bought the rights to the derby for $2,000 and aired the events repeatedly until selling the rights for $750,000 a decade later.8 “ ‘Why do people come to auto races?,’ ” Mendelsohn asked a journalist, and then answered himself: “Crashes. They come here to see cars crash, so I figured why not have a race where all the cars do is crash. The crowds are large, they sit on the edge of their seats and why not? We sell danger.”9 But the newspaper reporter hastened to add that the spirit of the event was one of a carnival. The date of the exact origin of the sport is difficult to pin down. Itai Vardi contends that automobile crashes as entertainment began in the twenties and thirties (even at times called demolition or destruction derbies), generally as part of stunt shows or auto thrill shows, and were tied to issues of planned obsolescence that originated at that time. The stunt drivers apparently were spokesmen funded by the industry and in that sense helped to validate the car companies’ use of destruction as a marketing tool.10 Automotive sports dwindled as a practice during the war years as tires and gas were rationed, and blossomed again in the postwar era, which saw the birth of the demolition derby as we know it today. Parting ways with both stunt shows and other forms of automobile racing, it became institutionalized as its own sport,11 with its own rules, nationwide venues, nonprofessional local contestants forming a unique subculture, and extensive television coverage. Although Mendelsohn is often claimed as having invented the sport, derbies were held many times during the late forties and fifties across the 34

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The Demolition Derby

United States, judging from the trade publication Billboard and documented by authors such as Vardi and Bill Lowenburg.12 And since Miriam-​ Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary dates the term as ca. 1953, the sport was clearly well known by then.13 What Mendelsohn did, however, was to spectacularly publicize and promote it in a way that captured and expressed public enthusiasms. Indeed, Marty Himes, the founder of the Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia (located not far from the Islip raceway) credits Mendelsohn with putting the demolition derby on the map as a crowd pleaser, crashing 500 cars at a time.14 Originating in the United States, the sport speaks to America’s relationship to technology and waste, and it was just this aspect of the culture that struck the painter Fernand Léger when he came to the United States in the early forties. As historian Martin James recalled about his meeting with the artist in 1945, Léger marveled at the quantity of goods that rural Americans relegated to the junk heap, musing, “In France, the paysan carefully picks up each nail, every stick. They patch and repatch a garment until hardly a shred remains of the original fabric.”15 What Léger observed was minor in comparison to postwar excesses, when planned obsolescence was corporate America’s key marketing strategy. In the late fifties, in a similar vein to Léger, the British architects Alison and Peter Smithson noted, “The things a European most values from American culture are the throw-​away objects, such as the magnificent magazines, advertising and packages.”16 Eventually, postwar Europe also moved in this direction. In France, for example, where working class salaries doubled between 1948 and 1970, people acquired the dubious luxury of being able to throw things away.17 It was the automotive industry that was well known for this practice of planned obsolescence. General Motors’ prewar policy of yearly changes to each model’s detailing to stimulate consumption is legendary. The Art and Color section of GM, headed by designer Harley Earl, became known for introducing a new model annually in the spirit of “dynamic obsolescence.” Alfred Sloan, GM’s chief executive officer, promoted this policy –​a reflection of the company’s realization during WWII that consumers ranked styling as their primary consideration in purchasing cars.18 Historians have outlined the key role played by the colorful artists,19 who ultimately designed the lavish fifties automobiles with soaring tailfins and enough chrome “brightwork,” or metal ornamentation, for 35

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Destruction Rites

designer Raymond Loewy to deem them “jukeboxes on wheels,”20 and for the Germans to call them “Detroit Macchiavellismus.”21 Each new model clearly rendered earlier designs obsolete –​aesthetically if not mechanically. Such excess culminated in the demolition derby where these extravagant machines were pulverized in stadiums to cheering crowds. One 1966 article stipulates that most cars were “vintage” 1955 and 1956 models.22 The “planning” of planned obsolescence had been liberated, one could argue, changing hands from the CEO to the garage mechanic.23 Derby contestants today, for all their sense of jubilant freedom, follow clearly designated regulations (with variations from venue to venue). The automobiles must be altered for safety, with stipulations including removing glass, replacing the gas tanks with a small fuel supply located behind the driver, and securing (possibly welding shut) the trunk, hood and doors.24 Competitors must hit a car that is still in action for a set time, such as every sixty seconds. “Sandbagging,” which involves initiating the fewest possible hits or braking before contact, is derided.25 Extremities must remain within the car, and head-​on collisions are forbidden, as are attacks upon the driver-​side door. Similarly, even in the sixties there were rules stipulating “a firewall between the engine and the driver, no ‘deliberate’ head-​on crashes” and a yellow light warning that a car needs to beef up its activity.26 Still today, many elements of chance remain, but winning drivers are well versed in certain strategies: hit opponents with the back of your car to damage their motor and cooling system while keeping yours intact; damage their steering by an angled attack on their front wheel; flatten a tire with your bumper; try to keep your own car free from entanglements and coincide your attack with another driver’s so you double-​team the offense.27 The rules render the sport relatively safe, and news reports from the sixties boast that no one had ever seen a driver killed or even gravely injured. As one journalist writes in 1964, “… at Islip, the danger of death is not in the air, only the excitement of a carnival. No one remembers a driver being seriously hurt.”28 All regulations, however, were not always in effect or closely followed, leading one driver to brag, “I enjoy the head-​ons. I like to see the other guy go jumping in the air.”29 When vehicles pile up, as often occurs, there is a sense of potential danger, which, as in so many extreme sports, adds an element of transgressive humor to the proceedings. Or as 36

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The Demolition Derby

Jeffrey Schnapp argues in the context of a discussion of Futurism, the lure of speed with its ubiquitous crashes produces an intensified form of “trauma thrill.”30 At the raceway, as they did at the MoMA during Tinguely’s performance, fire trucks and emergency personnel hover about ominously. Each heat (match) takes a relatively short time, during which the raucous crowds are enveloped with exhaust fumes and assaulted by noise until the action stops and the winning car’s engine remains operative. The entire performance of a derby is greeted with laughter, like the slapstick comedy of early cinema crashes, such as the humor of Georges Méliès’s satiric 1904 crash film The Impossible Voyage.31 And crash humor sold cars, quipped television historian Lincoln Diamant in 1971 about a favored advertisement.32 Yet the smoke-​filled air recalled, then as now, ubiquitous photos of wartime scenes from smoldering ruins to exploding bombs. The demolition derby was decidedly a family entertainment, but one that elicited a range of responses. Parents interviewed at a 1971 derby in New York predictably rehearsed the debate surrounding the pros and cons

Figure 1-​1  Demolition Derby, Franklin County Fair, Malone, New York, 23 August 2011, photo by author.

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Destruction Rites

of violence on young spectators –​they were after all the generation that created or grew up with the Comics Code  –​while the announcer wryly offered that the derbies teach lessons in safety since the drivers are required to wear seatbelts.33 The derby is still very much family fare, with drinking and often profanity prohibited in the bleachers. Along with truck pulls and country singers, the derby remains a popular attraction at many county fairs across the United States, which feature carnival rides, fast food and 4-​H exhibits. These annual events, celebratory of the rural economy, are in some sense latter day harvest festivals. They form venues for the mixing of the dwindling population of farmers with the rest of the community in the service of both educating and entertaining the public.34 County fairs are more local than state fairs and function, above all, for these two purposes. The demolition derby falls on the entertainment side of the equation. The same families that visit the 4-​H exhibits for edification sit together at the derby for fun. Although one cannot convincingly contextualize the derby’s current popularity to postwar excesses and nuclear fear, the pleasure of a transgressive critique of the automotive industry is no doubt just as seductive as it was in the sixties. Automakers have continued to be a strong if at times controversial employer and producer of goods in the United States, central enough to the economy to rank with banks as recipients of bailout funds in times of financial downturns. In the drivers’ oblique/​quasi-​attack on the industry Latour’s pointed question remains relevant: “Why have the iconoclasts’ hammers always seemed to strike sideways, destroying something else that seems, after the fact, to matter immensely?”35 Today’s derby crowds still laugh, cheer and gasp with fear. These are people who own and drive cars; many are mechanics; some may feel ambivalence toward the automotive industry as their boss; and others perhaps experience a frisson at seeing people who fix their own cars –​ with more or less success –​gleefully break them. Mechanics are the doctors of the road culture and as such are necessary and respected. Yet can not one laugh subversively at the mechanic changing roles and driving a car with the goal of pulverizing another? On the other hand, in rural communities so reliant on the automobile, many car owners are home-​ schooled mechanics and identify with those on the racetrack, much as 38

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The Demolition Derby

in the postwar era when such mechanical skills were especially valued. Then and now, our cars need to be kept running, not only for their economic value but for essential transportation. One babies them, warms them up, listens to their engines, hears them purr like kittens, and keeps them viable, which makes their destruction all the more transgressive –​and hilarious. Over the past few decades, I attended numerous derbies and spoke with contestants and fans. I learned at the 2011 Franklin County Fair in northern New York State that the drivers generally come from the area or travel together in teams. They ride for passion, not for profit (although televised derby winners can be richly rewarded). The cost of the cars has risen significantly. For example, in 1971 they cost ten to twelve dollars and were large ones such as Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals. Inflation has of course altered the figures, but profit never was nor is it now the guiding motive. In 2011, some drivers paid up to $2,000 for each vehicle, often more than the worth of their own private automobiles36 and more than they could win in any event (2012 prizes ranged from $300 to $1,000). Other drivers routinely buy cheap junker cars and fix them up. A mechanic at the 2012 Saratoga County Fair derby told me that the cars cost $300 and the prizes were $50, but owners could later reclaim some of their expenses by selling parts.37 The size of the cars at the Franklin County Fair varied for each heat –​ the heats were divided into three classes like in boxing: lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight –​with the heavy older ones generally most prized. A young woman I met in the bleachers at a 2013 Saratoga fair shared with me that she had spent the day with a friend fixing his car for the derby. They had used grey paint because it was discounted in a local store. She laughed recounting the tale of acquiring, painting and smashing the car. It was not for them about the money she insisted.38 Most drivers are not professionals, and prize money can be used to fund the next junker car.39 Although there are many highly skilled veteran drivers on the circuit, promoters also encourage participants from the region. “The more locals on the track, the more local fans you’ll hear cheering from the grandstands,” said one advocate.40 What emerges is a picture of a hometown sport rife with indigenous and enduring values. 39

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Destruction Rites

The Demolition Derby as an Antiproductive Ritual In the life cycle of the automobile, the derby driver intercepts the vehicle before its symbolic death by crushing and in essence gives it another life before the junkyard, which has led one critic to call the derby a ritual of redemption and resurrection (or repair and rebirth).41 I  have chosen to characterize this ambiguous response as an iconoclash, returning once again to Latour, whose words haunt this text: And what has happened to explain that after every icono-​crisis infinite care is taken to reassemble the smashed statues, to save the fragments, to protect the debris? As if it was always necessary to apologize for the destruction of much beauty, so much horror; as if one was suddenly uncertain about the role and cause of the destruction that, before, seemed so urgent, so indispensable, as if the destroyer had suddenly realized that something else had been destroyed by mistake, something for which atonement was now overdue.42

The derby aligns with these thoughts and extends them by repurposing cars only to make a spectacle of destroying them later. This cycle repeats until the machine’s final demise, which suggests alternative issues including trauma, rebirth and rituals of antiproduction. The car in the demolition derby thus partakes in what Igor Kopytoff calls the cultural biography of things. A car in Africa, he argues, reveals a wealth of cultural data: [t]‌he way it was acquired, how and from whom the money was assembled to pay for it, the relationship of the seller to the buyer, the uses to which the car is regularly put, the identity of its most frequent passengers and of those who borrow it, the frequency of borrowing, the garages to which it is taken and the owner’s relation to the mechanics, the movement of the car from hand to hand over the years, and in the end, when the car collapses, the final disposition of its remains. All of these details would reveal an entirely different biography from that of a middle-​class American, or Navajo, or French peasant car.43

40

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Autos like people, Kopytoff offers, have many biographies: psychological, political, familial, etc. A social biography of a car may entail “[i]‌ts place in the owner-​family’s economy, another may relate the history of its ownership to the society’s class structure, and a third may focus on its role in the sociology of the family’s kin relations…”44 My study theorizes the demolition derby from this position, examining the implications of the car’s biography as it moves from productive to an antiproductive status, switches owners and acquires different cultural meanings. It is in motion, as Appadurai so famously contended. Kopytoff ’s argument rings true in that, “The only time when the commodity status of a thing is beyond question is the moment of actual exchange. Most of the time, when the commodity is effectively out of the commodity sphere, its status is inevitably ambiguous and open to the push and pull of events and desires, as it is shuffled about in the flux of social life.”45 Kopytoff uses the examples of gifts and alternate exchange systems as put forth by Marcel Mauss and others –​ideas that highlight the radicality of the derby in its antiproductive character. The sport functions in some respects like a Native American potlatch ceremony where destruction is a form of giving that empowers the donor. However, writes Georges Bataille, “if he destroys the object in front of another person or if he gives it away, the one who gives has actually acquired, in the other’s eyes, the power of giving or destroying.”46 Hence we move from an expenditure of excess, in this case the American car culture, to the derby as a positive vision of the “possibility for man to grasp what eludes him, to combine the limitless movements of the universe with the limit that belongs to him,” to quote Bataille again.47 And it is in this context that the laughter, the cheers and jubilation of the crowds make sense as they thrill to the spectacle of the working man taking control and freely distributing the excesses of capitalism as a form of play. The derby thereby destabilizes unbridled capitalist triumphalism. Writing about the hyperrealist demolition derby paintings of Canadian artist Bill Featherston, the historian Aurian Haller details the antiproductive character of the derby in its subversion of capitalist consumption, production and effect on laborers’ subjectivities. These homespun performances,

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he contends, interrogate by parody the hugely profitable car racing industry and its slick settings.48 One mechanic supports this view by ranking the sport as the lowest of the competitions, below stock car racing: “This is the bottom of the barrel. It’s the sewer. It’s the lowest thing in auto racing,” demo mechanic Buddy ‘The Body Man’ Johnson says proudly.49 These words ring true on many levels. Racing cars, for example, advertise for the industry –​as the stunt performers in the 1930s were spokesmen of the automobile industry. Derby cars, on the contrary, sport the names of loved ones, garages or local sponsors. They are spray painted today with more or less innovative designs, but most are covered with simple prose: “I love you mom and dad” or the name of their shop. At times today owners refer ironically to their putative status as rural working-​class whites with epithets such as “Redneck Customs” painted on the side.50 Unlike the populuxe fifties car or expensive vehicle today that functions as the unattainable object of desire or the ultimate fetishized commodity, the quirky, hand-​painted, soon-​to-​be-​destroyed derby car is exposed as

Figure 1-​2  Demolition Derby, Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, New York, 16 July 2013, photo by author.

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the product of human labor that has been pieced together tirelessly by the mechanics who spend countless hours reconfiguring it. The space of the derby then is the space of freedom from desire, which allows for alternate models of production and consumption.51 The only thing then that a derby produces is another derby. And in this regard the derby relates (as is discussed in Chapter 2) to the unproductiveness of play as theorized by writers such as Caillois.52 The commodity is not divorced from labor but representative of it. The derby then functions in part as an exercise in empowerment. One heeds Csikszentmihalyi’s words here, that “the crucial issue for personal development might not be who owns the means of production but who owns the means of action.”53 Tom Wolfe, writing in 1963, takes a much less nuanced view of derbies, concluding that the crowds simply thrill to the joy of destruction. A decade later Robert Jewett and John Lawrence reinforce the notion of the derby as destructive energy but reclaim it as an American rite of reversal (such as Halloween’s “trick or treat” mantra in which there is a carnivalesque strategy of reversal and the trick is empowered). The drivers gain deep satisfaction from both venting aggressive impulses and breaking communal restrictions, factors that are especially appealing in an era of conformity. These rites function, they suggest, as a form of catharsis which ultimately valorizes normative behavior.54 Susan Falls views today’s derby as a rite of reversal, which, read through the metaphor of creative destruction, allows the drivers, as representative of a marginalized class of white rural poor who embody a complex mixture of privilege and disadvantage, to exert a sense of agency.55 One can thus conclude that the derby forms a rite of reversal where working class men find a space to symbolically transgress against the power of corporate America through destroying its omnipresent symbol –​the automobile. While the derby is an exercise in destruction that forms a rite of reversal with an element of carnivalesque humor, a great deal more is enacted at these events. Haller, for example, stresses issues of power and identity. Relying on the writings of Judith Butler on gender and performance, he argues that these contests form antiproductive rites of hyperbolic masculinity that challenge the effect of capitalist commodity culture on worker’s subjectivities.56 Clearly the derby is marked by a masculine masquerade that leads to empowerment. Given the machismo of much of the Abstract 43

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Expressionist rhetoric and criticism, one wonders if a comparable reverse-​ class masquerade could have been in effect. Welders such as David Smith (who identified with metal workers) come to mind as arguably gaining agency from such posturing.57 Although there are now heats with women driving, the vast majority of the drivers are men, many of whom work together in garages and other sites of masculine car culture.58 A 1960s advertisement for the sport states the issue clearly:  “Wanted Young Men with Guts. If you think you have plenty of guts, lots of nerve and can stand the pressure both mental and physical of crashing and wrecking automobiles deliberately, then you are the man we want”.59 Machismo still weighs in heavily, as illustrated by the following comment overheard in the stands at the 2011 Franklin County Fair derby in a conversation between two men: “My friend was revving his car at two in the morning and I was in bed with my woman ready to go.”60 The contestants’ actions in their male bonding have the agency common to subcultural formations: “This new economy –​an economy of consumption, of the signifier, of endless replacement, supersession, drift, and play –​in turn engendered a new language of dissent,” writes Dick Hebdige in his seminal analysis of subcultural practices.61 Like the 1970s Teddy Boys and Skinheads, what looks like a language of fascism, Hebdige reads against the grain as rituals of refusal and empowerment.62 Whether or not

Figure 1-​3  1960s advertisement, The Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia, New York, courtesy of Marty Himes.

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derby drivers belong to a distinct subculture is open to question –​they do not dress alike or mimic each other’s behavior in a homologous manner (like the Skinheads) –​but although their actions may appear negative or destructive, they too can be seen as a liberatory refusal of a car culture that both entices and marginalizes them. The exuberant childlike handwriting on the autos also mimics in some respects the subcultural expressions of the graffiti artists of the seventies and eighties. There too the urge to “destroy” by defiling the surface of subway cars or city walls has been seen as a positive act of liberation and defiance. The twenty-​first-century derby cars have a graffiti-​like brilliance, with untrained expressive script suggestive of tagged names written in electric colors. Judging from historical photographs, the cars of the sixties were inscribed more simply, primarily with their numbers painted on the surface. Today, perhaps influenced by the flamboyance of the graffiti tradition and certainly inspired by a comparable matrix of forces, the more adventurous cars are a riot of colored words stylistically reminiscent of graffiti art, onomatopoeic pop inscriptions and Futurist writing from the early twentieth century. In the words of demolition derby photographer Bill Lowenburg, “The cars themselves in their goofy, badass splendor are a mechanized American folk art.”63 But as Chapter 2 discusses, the fiction of the game allows for an alternate subjectivity, and play, with its set rules and delegated spaces, differs from defacing the walls of the city itself, a criminal action which bears its own form of subversive agency.

Car Culture As a significant rite of destruction, the derby must be contextualized to an array of interrelated postwar issues involving the automobile and a rising technological culture. The discourse ranges from the sexuality of the automobile as advertised and imagined, to the prevalence of car crashes in the new automotive culture with the related issues of death, trauma and mediation that such crashes invoke, to the new ideas on systems, cybernetics and cyborgs as man-​machine combinations that anticipate the liberational and post-​gender aspects of post-​human culture. The twenty-​first-century discourse on automobility as a global web of interconnected social-​economic and technological factors can be traced back to the postwar years. The 45

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term “automobility” itself conflates the words autonomy and automobile64 and is a perfect emblem for the road culture of the postwar era with its driver/​machine hybrid in control. Cars mix freedom and fear, human and machine, male and female, desire and repulsion and become hence an apt “vehicle” for iconoclashes of creative destruction. John Urry, who writes extensively on automobility, stresses the hybrid “car-​driver” as an amalgam of human activities, machines and cultures of mobility.65 In the sixties it was Marshall McLuhan who proposed the connections between biological entities and mechanical apparatus as an open circuit between media, humans and technology.66 He ranked the car among his technological extensions of human beings in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In a chapter devoted to the motorcar, titled “The Mechanical Bride” (based on his 1951 book with that title and alluding to Marcel Duchamp’s famous artwork), he articulates compelling images of the car as a physical extension of a person. He begins, for example, by claiming that: “an American is a creature of four wheels.”67 Motorcars had morphed into motorized man. More recently, Charissa Terranova, in Automotive Prosthetic, argues as others have done for the confluence of McLuhan’s notion of extension with contemporary ideas on systems, cybernetics and cyborgs, but she specifically focuses on the automobile. Cars, in this discourse, are not commodity fetishes but machines that engage in a reciprocal relationship with humans –​transforming people as much as people transform them.68 When it comes to destruction, transformation partners with reclamation. While sociologists today, in a vast literature, examine the economic, affective or domestic relationships between humans and autos, in the postwar era the hybrid car/​driver could be contextualized to a new discourse on the cyborg. So too in the derby, where drivers become one with a machine whose engine they habitually describe as purring or roaring like an animal. From the vantage point of a spectator sitting high in the bleachers, the drivers and cars morph in a Kafkaesque manner to become cyborgian creatures with hard mechanical shells. This hybrid being found coinage in the postwar era from the writings of McLuhan, who called them shiny-​backed insects,69 to media representations such as the successful DDB (Doyle, Dane and Bernbach) 1960 marketing campaign of the Volkswagen beetle as a lemon or an overturned bug.70 By naturalizing or domesticating the 46

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car and empowering the driver, or leveling the two into one, these hybrids arguably trouble the power relations of postwar automotive culture –​people are not controlled by the industry but are one with the machines; automobiles are not life-​threatening modes of transport and by extension even space vehicles are anthropomorphized and playful, not pure symbols of military might. These ludic/​destructive hybrids populate the mass culture, from science fiction to advertising. Living machines roamed the advertising landscape in Scientific American. Advertisements from 1959 for the System Development Corporation of Santa Monica, California, for example, tout large illustrations conflating humans and machines to foster, “Man-​ Machine 71 Relationships a Growing Field for Operations Research.” One depicts The Cosmic Butterfly, a solar-​powered proposed apparatus fashioned to carry ten passengers from one earth satellite to another. This hybrid creature designed by pulp fiction artist Frank Tinsley –​significantly to promote operations research –​blurs the boundaries of technology, science fiction and futuristic sculpture in an amalgam widespread at the time. The gentle butterfly, like the “mushroom cloud,” naturalized and defused the threats of the day. The comingling of the cosmic, the brutal and the outlandish marked the space age and its ambivalent imagery.72 Promoting the military-​industrial complex with quaint images of flora and fauna makes playful sport of destruction. The birth of the cyborg itself was deeply associated with the Space Race and Cold War tensions. The term, coined in 1960 to describe a man-​ machine system designed to live in outer space, was first used in the postwar era for a white laboratory rat whose tail was implanted with a control device that could inject chemicals to allow the animal to survive in extraterrestrial environments. The scientists had in fact considered altering humans into cyborgs (like the rat) but relinquished this project in favor of placing the astronauts into spacesuits that surrounded them in a livable and transportable environment. These astronauts, nonetheless, appeared cyborgian in their silvery attire with external hoses, as in this 1962 image of John Glenn. One could say that the cyborg forms yet another way in which the postwar scientific community tried to beat the odds of destruction by imagining alternative life forms. The scientists who invented the enhanced rat even likened themselves to fish, schooled in cybernetics and 47

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intelligent enough to invent the needed apparatus to thrive out of water.73 Similar parallels can be found in the utopian and dystopian visions of technology rampant in European art of the late 1960s, such as the startling environment-​transforming helmet “Flyhead,” designed by the Viennese collective Haus-​Rucker-​Co.74 Ubiquitous pictures of actual airmen in their paraphernalia rivaled those found in the popular science fiction of the day and particularly in comic books. In a fascinating study of the design of the spacesuit, Nicholas de Monchaux charts the role of latex or “Playtex,” as the flexible fabric used for bras was called, in the development of astronauts’ attire. Although this

Figure 1-​4 Astronaut John Glenn in Pressure Suit, NASA photograph, Project Mercury, 1962. Credit: Government photo National Archives (public domain).

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material proved the most adaptable for the suits, companies were wary of a feminized link to women’s undergarments. Designers continued to put forth hard versions of the outfit in deference to their more masculine image, which had been preceded by years of imaginary intergalactic warriors populating the mass media wearing hard suits.75 Humor, play, mass culture and Cold War politics intermingle yet again in the alternate history of postwar destruction I outline here, with the cyborgian astronaut forming another arena for playing with destruction. It was Donna Haraway who became the period’s most eloquent spokesperson for the cyborg as a child of technology with a potential for liberation. The aftermath of WWII with its geopolitical battles and monstrous machines led her to conceive of cyborgs, in her 1985 “Cyborg Manifesto,” as the “illegitimate children of militarism and patriarchal capitalism.”76 They are, for Haraway, the positive progeny of this era. In their fusions, they offer a way out of the “maze of dualisms … building and destroying machines, identities, categories, relationships.”77 A cyborg world, as she famously writes, is one where “people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints.”78 These new couplings, in her estimation, offer a radical new feminist perspective that obliterates entrenched binary gender divisions. In so doing, Haraway’s cyborg takes responsibility for both the good and bad effects of technology. One thinks again of the spectator in the bleachers at a demolition derby watching automobiles and humans morph into cyborgian creatures that spit, sigh, groan and die to choruses of hilarious laughter from young and old, male and female. Technology could be threatening, playful and empowering at the same time. Women, too, identify with and thrill to the antics of these cyborgian machines. For all the hypermasculinity of the demolition derby, the performance of destruction as an act of liberation is appreciated by all. So too in the artistic community. Niki de Saint Phalle’s shooting pieces, or Tirs, from the early sixties, with their spectacularized acts of destruction, amounted at least in part to a wry comment on the absurdity of the arms race while at the same time modeling a form of empowerment for women.79 Lee Bontecou likewise destroyed and darkened canvas, piercing it with wire and morphing it into frightening and aggressive constructions that railed against war and human carnage.80 Her spikey protruding forms, 49

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as Jo Applin persuasively argues, produce a physical and psychological assault on the viewer,81 a loaded encounter not unlike facing the barrel of Saint Phalle’s gun.

The Sexuality of the Automobile In the 1960s, the car had a sensuous appeal; one inhabited it, caressed it and smelled it. As Barthes famously characterized the reception of the new Citroen in 1957: In the exhibition halls, the car on show is explored with an intense, amorous studiousness:  it is the great tactile phase of discovery, the moment when visual wonder is about to receive the reasoned assault of touch (for touch is the most demystifying of all senses, unlike sight, which is the most magical). The bodywork, the lines of union are touched, the upholstery palpated, the seats tried, the doors caressed, the cushions fondled; before the wheel, one pretends to drive with one’s whole body.82

The car’s sensuousness and sexuality are ubiquitously conjured in the art and literature of the era to multiple purposes. For Barthes it is to demystify, for others such as the British postwar novelist J.G. Ballard it has a more formidable allure. The auto is a bridge between conflicting subjectivities –​a potentially destructive machine, it can be sleekly seductive and transgressively humorous. Ballard exploits this notion in his novel Crash. Describing a crash victim in a wheelchair, he writes, “sitting beside her physiotherapy instructor in her new invalid car, she held the chromium treadles in her strong fingers as if they were extensions of her clitoris.”83 He had tested his ideas on the unconscious links between sexuality and cars earlier, as he reminisces in his 1970 autobiography, “by putting on an exhibition of crashed cars.”84 Given the mayhem at the opening and the later vandalization of the vehicles themselves, Ballard concludes that his suspicions were grounded, which led him to write in 1970 The Atrocity Exhibition (republished two decades later with notes) and two years later the notorious Crash. 50

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Much has been written about the “sex” of the automobile and car culture in general, dating from the golden age of the populuxe models. As historian Karal Ann Marling writes: “Breasts, teeth, wings, bombs, sharks: planes that were women, women who were missiles. These were metaphors, analogues for a whole series of preoccupations that Detroit and its customers shared with many artists in the aftermath of World War II.”85 The loaded symbolism of the fifties automobile and Madison Avenue strategies for selling it were subjects of much speculation even in its own day. Although the Freudian associations were particularly newsworthy and at times criticized, the ubiquitous sexual undercurrents in the advertisements appealed to visual artists from Richard Hamilton to James Rosenquist. In a chapter called “The Ad and the Id” from his engaging 1958 book, The Insolent Chariots, John Keats lambasts the “penile” ornaments of the period and concludes by asking, “How much of all this is appreciated by the average conscious mind is open to serious question. What is not open to question is the fact that Detroit believes, and operates on the theory that Americans don’t buy automobiles, but instead buy dreams of sex, speed, power and wealth.”86 But a more nuanced discussion of the sex of the 1950s automobile, and the derby itself, is in order as descriptions of the machines habitually slipped between gender binaries. For all the machismo of the car culture, according to the well-​known adage of the fifties put forth by Ernest Dichter, President of the Institute for Motivational Research, the car was a “she.” Men saw the convertible as their mistress and the hardtop as their wife.87 And for Marshall McLuhan, writing The Mechanical Bride in 1951, the car was more androgynous, functioning as both a “womb symbol and, paradoxically enough, as a phallic power symbol.”88 Automobiles also were being marketed to women as the industry promoted the lucrative model of the two-​car home. Sociologists indeed have pointed to women’s habitual use of their vehicles for daily nurturing rituals –​transporting children or elderly parents.89 Figure 1–5 shows my own mother fashionably posed next to her stylish 1960 Ford Galaxy sedan. New automobiles were sold to the suburban housewife as old ones were being reclaimed by the derby driver. Even with the male bonding of the contestants, the automobiles themselves played more nuanced gender roles. Drivers today, for example, seldom inscribe 51

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Figure 1-​5  Lucille Hadler in front of her 1960 Ford Galaxy four door sedan.

the cars with stereotypic militaristic or violent language but more often with loving dedications to their fathers, mothers and girlfriends. That is to say, that for all the machismo of the demolition derby, the narrative must be nuanced (even before Haraway’s cyborg manifesto) and unremitting binaries contested to discuss meaningfully the gender implications of the derby and its attendant car culture. It was not just men pulverizing masculine vehicles with military force but androgynous vehicles wrecked to the glee of men and women who all lived in a new technological world, coped with the memory of the trauma of WWII, feared the bomb and the potential for nuclear holocaust and suffered from the loss of relatives and friends in car crashes.

Car Crashes and Trauma The potency of the automobile crash was heightened by advertising, media representation and celebrity culture, Ballard surmised. (Today he could add the geopolitics of oil to the mix.) Musing about President Kennedy’s demise in a car, he concludes that the deaths of famous people from car wrecks resonated far more in the public imagination than those from other 52

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disasters.90 The car was sexy in and of itself and made more so by in its design, media appeal and destructive potential: The ambiguous role of the car crash needs no elaboration  –​ apart from our own deaths, the car crash is probably the most dramatic event in our lives, and in many cases the two will coincide. Aside from the fact that we generally own or are at the controls of the crashing vehicle, the car crash differs from other disasters in that it involves the most powerfully advertised commercial product of this century, an iconic entity that combines the elements of speed, power, dream and freedom within a highly stylized format that defuses any fears we have of the inherent dangers of these violent and unstable machines.91

Automobiles meant death as well as luxury. The fifties saw the funding and growth of the interstate highway system, and with it America’s romance with the automobile crescendoed. Novels by the likes of Jack Kerouac –​ On the Road was written in 1951, published in 1957 –​captured the enthusiasm and anticipated the road movie genre of the sixties. But the dark underbelly of the rising car culture was the ubiquitous and terrifying crash. People feared nuclear explosions but died in car crashes. Prominent celebrities who ended their life this way include Jackson Pollock and James Dean in the mid-​fifties. In France stories of Françoise Sagan’s near fatal 1954 car accident filled the pages of the popular press, and the literary giant Albert Camus lost his life in a problematic 1960 car wreck. Automobile safety, in fact, became a hot issue in the United States in the mid-​sixties, as evidenced by activist Ralph Nader’s best-​selling 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, and the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966.92 Nonetheless, cars remained symbols of American technological progress while their role as deadly machines was constantly whitewashed in the name of nationalism and patriotism.93 The crowds sing the national anthem at the derby while they watch cars crash and cope with their fear of death. Car crashes are fine, the subtext suggests, if ignoring them allows at some level their retention as a symbol of freedom and progress in the Cold War context. Ciphers of death as well as wealth, late fifties autos are at the crux of both studies of trauma and commodity relations. Warhol’s Death and 53

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Disaster series, including Orange Car Crash 14 Times, 1963, with its repeated scenes of accidents, has been extensively examined in relation to trauma in the writings of Thomas Crow, Hal Foster, John Curley and others. While Curley finds the indistinct images form an interpretative wall copacetic with psychologically untenable thoughts,94 Foster argues that repetition can fixate on trauma, screen, or produce it.95 The demolition derby, in its public display of catastrophe through repeated comedic heats, both performs and unmasks the effects of disaster. Trauma is a subtext that underscores the festive spirit, and a producer of complex effects on subjectivity. Freud noted how patients replayed repressed trauma in repetitive actions, so too the cars line up and crash in brief bouts seemingly endlessly repeated. They repeat, the media repeats photos of crashes and Warhol repeats the media, all with an obsessiveness that aligns them in part with Freudian notions of working through repressed or traumatic events. Alternatively, as Hal Foster argues in relation to Warhol’s Car Crash works, individual fantasy and public reality collide in a new mass subjectivity –​a subjectivity fueled by mediatized violence (present in Ballard as well). The viewer of the demolition derby reads the newspapers and with mixed emotions watches crashes that simulate the simulations of actual crashes. In Foster’s words, “[t]‌he mass subject reveals its sadomasochistic aspect, for this subject is often split in relation to a disaster: even as he or she may mourn the victims, even identify with them masochistically, he or she may also be thrilled, sadistically, that there are victims of whom he or she is not one.”96 Significant here is Michael Rothberg’s placement of traumatic realism at the intersection of the everyday and the extreme. He argues: “By representing a site of extreme violence as a borderland of extremity and everydayness, traumatic realism attempts to produce the traumatic event as an object of knowledge and to program and transform its readers so that they are forced to acknowledge their relationship to posttraumatic culture.”97 So the ordinariness of the car crash game as a popular amusement located in the county fair counters the trauma of death on the highway and its omnipresence in Cold War nuclear tensions. The past and the present unsettle each other. The demolition derby in its location in the public space “forces” a vast array of spectators to engage with traumatic realism through play and mimicry (to use Caillois’s terms here). One could say that the postwar 54

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Figure 1-​6 Andy Warhol, Orange Car Crash 14 Times, 1963, The Museum of Modern Art, NY © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. /​ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

culture struggled with the mundane qualities of death and destruction, as did Hannah Arendt, whose controversial writings on the banality of evil first appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 1963.98 As in Freud’s fort-​da game, the rehearsal of the disaster becomes the pleasure of the derby game.99 Multiple heats employ a form of slapstick comedy. And, to reiterate, relieving trauma is only one form of catharsis to be experienced by a thrill-​seeking public. McLuhan appreciated the humor of the man/​machine action, writing a decade before the cool distancing of Warhol’s crashes: “The human person who thinks, works, or dreams himself into the role of a machine is as funny an object as the world provides. And, in fact, he can only be freed from this trap by the detaching power of wild laughter.”100 Viewers of Jim Dines’s 1960 Car Crash “happening” left laughing and crying.101 Susan Sontag, who attended these performances, considered them both funny and terrifying, 55

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writing: “There is something that moves one to laughter, if only our social pieties and highly conventional sense of the serious would allow it, in the most terrible of modern catastrophes and atrocities.”102 This levity relates to trauma as it does to the freedom of an iconoclash, or the transgressive humor of a carnivalesque inversion where the poor destroy the coveted symbols of wealth. Mikhail Bakhtin had devised his theories of the carnival under communism in the thirties and forties, at a point when an egotist was an enemy of the people and the raucous humor of the crowds could be seen as inclusive.103 Then as now, the crowds in the bleachers participated, likening the derby to a form of impromptu theater, eliciting a chorus of shouts and laughter reminiscent of the sounds of the Rabelaisian marketplace. The designs painted on the cars by their drivers are judged, but the winners can be selected by the audience members who vote with their hands and feet, like Roman gladiator fights, as Tom Wolfe opined.104 At a recent heat that I  witnessed, which lasted an inordinately long time, the crowd was asked to predict the winner of the battle between a car painted to resemble the markings of a cow and one with a more traditional race car motif.105 With the participatory actions of the crowds, the derby also suggests street theater in its ephemerality. The derby is not performed in formal and elaborate racetrack settings but in temporary locations set up and taken down like the tents of wandering circus performers, which appealed to leftist artists like Léger in the early twentieth century.106 At the Franklin County Fair, for example, the cars and drivers transform the lot in front of the grandstand into a crude muddy “track” that will be recycled as a stage for an array of different evening performances. Makeshift cars therefore perform in ephemeral spaces driven by marginalized worker/​consumer/​producers who disrupt the entrenched controlling position of the capitalist producer and consumer.

The Car, the Crash and Destructive/​ Constructive Practices in Art The demolition derby was lionized at the height of the postwar car culture when a number of artists focused on crashed vehicles, such as Warhol’s traffic accidents, Dines’s Car Crash and John Chamberlain’s crushed car 56

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assemblages. Chamberlain in the United States and César in France accumulated and repurposed the remains of cars junked either because of age, obsolescence or accident. These various representations revel in and at the same time mock the cycles of capitalist production with its excesses of accumulation, distribution and garbage –​despite Chamberlain’s denials of such associations as he stresses the importance of the formal language and the availability of free material.107 Artists of the era often function as both witnesses and participants in this sequence of production, consumption and destruction in a manner not dissimilar to derby drivers and fans.108 They also replay rituals of trauma in a culture that celebrates the automobile and fears the deadly crash. Fluxus artist George Brecht used the automobile for his 1960 Motor Vehicle Sundown event but to a different purpose, one that aligns with avant-​garde experiments with chance, sound and silence.109 Sound and silence partner here in a destructive/​constructive model. Participants line up in cars at sundown and follow instructions printed on cards that are shuffled and randomly distributed. While none actually crash in this event, the score calls for an interplay of lights turning on and off pitted against the mechanical sounds of engines, wipers, horns, etc., in an early example of what today would be called “sound art,” wherein machine sounds or sounds of everyday life reach an endpoint in silence.110 Indeed it was Brecht’s mentor, the composer John Cage, who inspired this work. Musicologist Douglas Kahn describes how the ultimate Cagean endgame relates to silence and to destruction: “For Cage, a sound is heard ‘in itself ’ against the relational tension of the inevitable sounds to follow. With Fluxus, however, the sound of an instrument in destruction marks the point where there are no further relations and the only recursiveness is from a performative silence, perhaps a stunned one.”111 When Nam June Paik smashes his instrument in One for Violin Solo, or Townshend his guitar, they signal the pivotal moment between sound and silence, an instance in flux one could say, just as the last sound of the remaining derby car heralds its demise in a pregnant silence. The screeching, deafening sounds of the demolition derby themselves were recorded at the time by Audio Fidelity Records, which in 1964 produced an album of sound effects from the Islip Speedway.112 Townshend too spoke of his creative use of feedback as “warlike.”113 Just as silence 57

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was the ultimate Cagean endgame, one could say that the sound of the guitar’s destruction, done only in performance and not on the The Who’s recordings, was the endgame of the iconoclash –​the physical and auditory borderline of destruction and creation and the inverse of Cage’s silence.114 Rauschenberg’s well-​known Erased de Kooning of 1953 fits this model too, as he had requested a drawing from the famous artist for the sole purpose of erasing it. For Cage and Rauschenberg, negation was a positive force –​ silence, erasing and other moments that exist on the much-​touted border of art and life are generative.115 And it is on this philosophical level that the silence of Cage and erasures of Rauschenberg partner with the noisy excesses of the derby where the drivers destroy to create.116

Figure 1-​7 Robert Rauschenberg Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953. Traces of ink and crayon on paper, with mat and hand-​lettered label in ink, in gold-​leafed frame, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Phyllis Wattis Art @ Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/​Licensed by Vaga, New York, NY.

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Like the derby, both violence and (often slapstick) humor mark the Fluxus performances of musical instrument destruction. The Fluxus “art-​ amusement,” in George Maciunas’s words, was simple, amusing, unpretentious and “obtainable by all.”117 Hence we see the proliferation of this group’s Fluxboxes containing games, events or ideas. Yet other authors have recognized a darker side, characterizing Fluxus actions as an absurd response to the war or a surrogate rehearsing of the irrational, as in the nuclear drills postwar children were forced to replay.118 In line with this alternate discourse, Rafael Montañez Ortiz started tackling issues of creation and destruction in the late fifties but without carnivalesque or playful humor. He purposely parted ways with Fluxus in favor of what he believed were the more engaged Dada practices. His deeply expressive performances drew the attention of former Berlin Dadaist Richard Huelsenbeck, who became a close associate,119 and primal scream psychotherapist Arthur Janov.120 Ortiz used the term “destructivism” in his 1962 manifesto, written during what Kristine Stiles calls his construction-​destruction phase, which lasted about a decade and during which he destroyed mattresses, chairs, and in 1963 his first piano –​a performance he repeated over the years.121 In the manifesto he maintains, “The art that utilizes the destructive processes will purge, for as it gives death, so it will give to life.”122 Unpacking this concept in 2015, he explains that while creation and destruction are paired, as are making and unmaking, he was taking on the importance of the “destruction of the unmaking within the existence of making.”123 A Puerto Rican artist instrumental in the founding of the Museo del Barrio in New York City in 1969, Ortiz was interested in ritual and indigenous culture or deconstructing European art in this manner. He considered the cadence of the repeated blows to the piano a form of ritualistic music and wrote: Being aware of my indigenous roots, my concern as an artist has been to separate from that overlay, but doing it in a way that does not attach itself to ethnocentric ideas of being Puerto Rican, Mexican, Chinese, Philippine, etc., going to the root and seeing that there is a web –​a net of indigenous culture –​on the planet that attaches all people. I am faithful to those indigenous roots and to deconstructing Eurocentric concepts and objects –​the piano –​ as a symbol of that Eurocentric oppression, of destroying what Freud called surplus repression, where things are just too much.124

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Figure 1-​8  Rafael Montañez Ortiz, Piano Destruction, London, England, DIAS, 1966. Photo credit John Prosser, courtesy of Raphael Montañez Ortiz.

In his shamanic practice he was celebrating his indigenous roots in an incantatory manner while adjudicating social injustice in a form of a ceremonial potlatch. He specifically likens his own performative practice to a potlatch ceremony where destruction amounts to an act of giving. Ortiz traces his predilection for destruction deep into his personal past: to experiencing racial prejudice, to throwing rocks at windows as an eight-​year-​old, to discovering an old piano and beating on it, 60

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to recoiling when Jiminy Cricket stops Pinocchio from destroying a piano with an axe, to remembering news of the atomic explosion at Hiroshima, and to studying at Pratt under a former WWII demolition expert. Immersed in philosophy and psychology, he believes that destruction is linked to deep unconscious forces and conveys his appreciation for the premise of this book in its linking of artists and the populace in this regard.125 He felt this way in 1966 when he compared his own art to the demolition derby. In a rare document from the sixties, a published letter addressed to the art critic Mario Amaya, Ortiz writes specifically on the derby, thereby aligning his artistic practice with the ephemeral visual culture of destruction. He opines: Think of all the ritual, religion and sport, that spring from and have at their core the act of destruction. Here in the United States, we have a destruction, stock car, derby. Cars crash into each other until all but one are demolished, the surviving one wins. It’s an unbelievable sight. Buddhist immolations in Vietnam are the most religious destructions to have occurred in recent history. I feel that underlying Destructivist Art there is the aesthetic of both the destruction derby and the immolation.126

It is just this rich interplay of horrific and destructive historic events, negative and positive forces, artistic strategies and popular cultural practices like the derby that underscores the thesis of this book. After viewing a televised demolition derby, the art historian Kurt von Meier ruminated on Ortiz’s letter in an essay titled “Violence, Art and the American Way!” A photo of an Islip derby opens his text, in which he critiques American violence from the standpoint of an anti–​Vietnam War activist and condemns the violence of sports, but praises Ortiz’s destructivist practice for creating “truly violent and revolutionary gestures.”127 Fellow travelers, von Meier proffers, were subcultural figures such as Ed (Big Daddy) Roth, who attacked violence by parody with his Rat Fink Car and “weirdo” sixties humor, and other members of DIAS, the Destruction in Art Symposium, which formed the most visible platform for the destruction in art movement of the sixties. 61

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DIAS and Destruction in Art Destruction as construction has a familiar ring in the postwar era, not only in artistic process but in the culture at large as the residual horrific effects of the atomic bomb leaked into the news. Large corporations like Disney garnered attention in their attempt to domesticate and market atomic energy for household appliances such as vacuum cleaners (as claimed in The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend the Atom), and the triumphal pro-​nuclear sculpture Atomium presided over the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. Not surprising in this context, Tinguely’s quixotic self-​ destructing machine was repeatedly called a “gadget to end all gadgets” by members of the press –​a term firmly entrenched in collective memory as the nickname for the atomic bomb.128 Gustav Metzger, the force behind DIAS, makes these connections clear by asserting: “Auto-​destructive art is an attack on capitalist values and the drive to nuclear annihilation.”129 Metzger, a Jewish artist whose parents perished in Nazi death camps and who was only saved himself by being transported as a child to London, was understandably personally engaged in the idea of destruction and reclamation rife in the aftermath of WWII. He conceived auto-​destructive art, which included the work of Tinguely, as an art of social action with roots in the Dada movement and the Russian avant-​garde. He proposed various large-​scale public sculptures that would deconstruct over time, and later mused: “Society is deteriorating. So is the sculpture.”130 Yet Metzger parallels auto-​destructive art with auto-​creative art in his 1961 manifesto, “Auto-​Destructive Art, Machine Art, Auto-​Creative Art.” He later explains, “When an auto-​destructive process takes place, each disintegration of a form leads to the creation of a new form –​this applies on the material as it does on the visual level.”131 Metzger’s ideas were catalytic in the sixties. Pete Townshend met Metzger when he was an art student and credits his practice of performatively destroying guitars to Metzger’s influence. Townshend was studying with Metzger at the Ealing Art College in London and performing as a musician on the side. In his memoir Townshend confesses, “Encouraged … by the work of Gustav Metzger, the pioneer of auto-​destructive art, I secretly planned to completely destroy my guitar if 62

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the moment seemed right.”132 Underscoring his sense of history and his engagement with memory, Townshend says, “On stage I stood on the tips of my toes, arms outstretched swooping like a plane. As I raised the stuttering guitar above my head, I felt I was holding up the bloodied standard of endless centuries of mindless war. Explosions. Trenches. Bodies. The eerie screaming of the wind.”133 (Townshend later invited Metzger to design lighting for performances of The Who.)134 In 1966 Metzger organized a month-​ long Destruction in Art Symposium in London, including about one hundred artists and poets from eighteen countries and featuring the works of artists like Ono, Ortiz and the Vienna Actionists Hermann Nitsch and Otto Muehl. During the proceedings, Ortiz destroyed a piano and Ono repeated her performance of Cut Piece.135 Many of the artists involved were active participants in Happenings, Fluxus, Vienna Aktionism and Concrete Poetry, and although their practices differed they overlapped in a focus on destruction. Their activities spread quickly to the United States and specifically New York City, which hosted a second Destruction in Art Symposium in 1968. Under the banner of DIAS, artists explicitly fixated on destruction as a practice in art making of the day, whereas in popular culture destruction masqueraded more believably as entertainment and was not necessarily named for destruction as such. While both artists and the general public exercised agency through carnivalesque performances, it seems that artists more frequently enjoyed the additional freedom to “out” the destruction of the era. This dynamic should not, however, be mistaken as evidence of a simple binary that marginalizes popular culture and empowers artists. Instead, it points to how the location of individuals and audiences within the broader cultural landscape shaped and modified their engagement with rites of destruction. DIAS spawned literary production as well as the performative. In advance of the New York events, Wolf Vostell edited an issue of the prized avant-​garde magazine Something Else Press on the theme of destruction in art. Documenting his dé-​coll/​age happenings between 1954 and 1966 and, as an object in itself, the magazine formed a perishable assemblage in keeping with Vostell’s concern for destruction and postwar memory. In it Vostell does not limit his focus on destruction to the war, but considers its 63

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ethical role when placed in the aesthetic realm.136 His introductory statement makes this position clear: proceeding from self-​dissolving    self-​ destroying   And self-​exhausting factors in experience plane crashes for instance and auto collisions i coined the idea of dé-​coll/​age137 And he ends:    if a happening is thematically concerned   with the destructive phenomenon of our epoch   this does not mean that the happening form           is in itself destructive happenings make such nightmares conscious and sharpen the consciousness for the inexplicable and for chance138 Historian Kristine Stiles characterizes DIAS as a rebellious attempt to critique aesthetic form, expand artistic practices, and demonstrate the need for artists to engage culture as a force for political change.139 Their project attempted to rectify the seductive effects of amnesia regarding historical trauma and address the psychological and social needs of their time. Stiles expands on what she calls the “DIAS affect,” and uses Metzger’s take on destruction to open a critique of both totalitarianism and capitalism by artists in the late 1970s and early 1980s who were unaware of his writings, such as the San Francisco group Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) launched in 1978, and Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) founded in the former Yugoslavia in 1980.140 In other cases, she traces a more direct lineage: from Metzger’s lecture at Roy Ascott’s school to Pete Townshend. She concludes: I would argue that such a history establishes a chain of remembrance that began with Metzger’s tragic Holocaust experience, the mourning that he creatively transformed in DIAS into a consideration of how destruction in art might be used as a parallel image for, and critique of, social destruction. This view, then, informed the technique of artists through whose work such concepts transmuted again into forms for and of cultural resistance.141

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DIAS indeed anticipated an avalanche of likeminded performances from the sixties to the current day, which are included in the 2013 Hirshhorn Museum exhibition “Damage Control.” These range from Ed Ruscha’s 1967 Royal Road Test where he tosses a Royal typewriter out of the window of a speeding automobile, to Ant Farm’s Media Burn of 1975 where a Cadillac smashes a wall of televisions, to more recent “destructions” combining humor and trenchant political critique such as Ai Wei Wei’s 1995 Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.142 This later act of vandalism references how the communist Cultural Revolution led by Mao politicized Chinese history.

The Derby and Tinguely: From the Fairgrounds to the Museum References to Duchamp’s “bachelors” as machines (referring to his 1923 Large Glass or Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even) that do not reproduce or produce the excesses of capitalism were ubiquitous in the late fifties and early sixties. Non-functioning apparatuses as key figures of “useless science” form a leitmotif in the postwar era, and they in turn counter the all too efficient manufacturing sector. From Tinguely’s Homage to New York, to the many products of the E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) collaborations of artists and engineers, founded by Billy Klüver and Rauschenberg in the sixties, works of art joyously malfunction. The derby cars work for a few moments and then, through liberating acts of destruction greeted with peals of laughter, cease to function as productive machines but release instead a force of individual spirit that confronts the force of industrial power. In the aftermath of the derby, the drivers work manually –​countering the assembly line –​to reconstruct and redecorate their spoiled cars, and to reenter them to start the game once again. In these rituals, the demolition derby speaks to the ways the weak make use of the strong, which, Michel de Certeau contends, lends a political dimension to everyday practices.143 The derby itself takes part in a repetitive cycle of destruction, reconstruction and play that counters the industrial cycle of production and distribution. These repetitions of spectacle and play both subvert and mimic (or subvert by mimicking), and it is 65

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this complex subjectivity that renders the derby such a significant cultural practice. In returning to the comparison of Tinguely’s Homage to New York and the contemporaneous stagings of the demolition derby, what, we might wonder, unites the different populations in attendance, whose composition ranges from America’s capitalist elite museum goers to blue-​collar visitors at speedways and county fairs.144 The cheering working class crowds at the derby, for example, contrast dramatically in their participatory agency to Tinguely’s disgruntled MOMA audience, for the latter is, in fact, “the man.” The drivers who often work for “the man,” at the same time retrofit and paint their cars in a gendered male craft tradition before destroying them in acts of violent and transgressive freedom. Tinguely likewise quipped that his performance was an exercise in “total anarchy and freedom.”145 Both populations, the entitled and the marginalized, might find the other’s practice to be absurd. One side might ask, why gather in a museum to destroy a sculpture –​is this art? And the other side might query, why line up in a parking lot and crash cars for fun? Yet both groups voluntarily spend time and money to partake in these activities, and we must ask why. Although they act to some degree in accord with their habitus as theorized by Pierre Bourdieu, both groups can be contextualized to the postwar era and their shared childhood fears of the bomb and nuclear annihilation would make them thrill on many levels to the obsessive replaying of acts of destruction. Tinguely himself made this connection clear by building a machine that he called Study for an End of the World No. 2 in Nevada, near nuclear test sites. The bomb was a cultural leveler, and all were forced to play absurd games to prepare for Doomsday scenarios. And the overriding sense of freedom that forms one aspect of the joy of these encounters links to the politics of the everyday –​to the freedom of the networks of antidiscipline described by de Certeau and to the non-alienating component in rituals of play or entertainment. The everyday literature gives us the idea of how the pedestrian and the elite work over the same ground; so in this sense the audience for Tinguely is the same as the crowds in the grandstands. Both groups also find agency in humor and play while at the same time acting with a dual subjectivity that forms a complex instantiation of a conflicted American postwar ideology that created such contradictions, 66

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through an aggressive Cold War military policy, that played on global fears and then denuded such fears at home by promoting the likes of nuclear powered vacuum cleaners. All this occurred at a moment when the “imagination of disaster” formed the key response to annihilation –​since as Kubrick underscored, there was no chance to learn from experience. And so both the artists and the masses played while the cameras rolled, turning destruction into spectacle. Popular programs such as ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast the derby games, which in turn led von Meier to link Ortiz’s practice with the derby. The antics of the handsome couple, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, were avidly followed by camera crews, which the press castigated as opportunistic conceits emblematic of Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame.146 Tinguely’s ludic machine of destruction, Study for an End of the World No. 2, was even shown on national television, on the 4 April 1962 edition of David Brinkley’s Journal. Watching the broadcast today, one sees the public’s befuddled reaction, although they were no doubt impacted by issues of celebrity as destruction was spectacularized and mediatized. The actions of Tinguely, Saint Phalle, their spectators and the derby drivers fit a larger political moment in which destruction, play and the media cohabited dangerously and hilariously.

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2 Military Games of Destruction

The demolition derby, as a potentially violent and competitive sport, relates fundamentally to the widespread military games of the postwar era. Cars facing off in a deadly contest is a fitting analogy for the superpowers’ Cold War tactics. The war game as a testing ground for the armed forces, of course, has a long tradition. In the nineteenth century, all Prussian regiments were issued a game called Kriegsspiel and required to play it regularly. This activity soon evolved into a popular pastime through the use of tin toy soldiers, which inspired H.G. Wells to detail the rules for his toy battalions in Little Wars, written on the eve of WWI. But the postwar society in America witnessed an explosion in the use of war games by the military rising in tandem with a new mediated age. Television and the computer simulations markedly altered their impact and resonance. Television dwelled on nuclear standoffs and threats, while military personnel battled on the same monitors that would be used in the field. This new mediation marked an important difference in the perception of war games as it blurred the distinctions between the real and the fictive. How one knows reality became a question, and games –​from military ones to the new reality television shows –​entered this discourse. Cars crashed in fairgrounds as weapons headed toward each other in simulations and the difference between them was a slippery one. 68

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The demolition derby parallels but also significantly alters military gaming as practised by postwar combatants. It fits the rubric of agonistic sports and nuclear confrontations, but in its carnivalesque spirit it aligns equally with forms of play –​also dating to this era –​that subvert such strategies. For this context the writings of theorists including Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois and Guy Debord are pertinent. Huizinga, author of Homo Ludens, first published in 1938, and Caillois, whose Man, Play and Games dates to l958, are key foundational authors –​before game theorists and computer programmers –​for theorizing the cultural importance of play. Critical of Nazism, Huizinga underscores the importance of human decency and ethical behavior endemic to the history of play. His definition of play set the stage for future writings on the subject: Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside “ordinary life” as being “not serious”, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formations of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.1

Caillois criticizes Huizinga’s omission of games of chance played for money as it detaches them from the discourse of economic power. He rectifies this exclusion but qualifies that gambling is unproductive. The sum of one’s winnings equals another’s losses and no goods are produced.2 Ultimately Huizinga’s positioning of play as a positive element of culture remains central to Caillois’s and to other studies of the subject. And his stipulation of it as ceremoniously detached from “real life” is key to both authors and forms a leitmotif in studies of war games.3 Fiction, as both Caillois and Huizinga agree, is key to the successful rendition of a game as a “free unreality.” Much of Huizinga’s thinking sheds light on the demolition derby. To begin with, he demarcates play as being a free and voluntary activity. The derby drivers need their jobs in garages for their livelihoods but they tinker 69

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on these vehicles as play. Second, for him play is not “real life” but a “temporary sphere of activity with a disposition all of its own.”4 Drivers would not in “real life” destroy cars or advocate a regime change. An element of fiction is key. Coming too close to the truth ruins a game, just as too much realism in robotics causes revulsion, according to Masahiro Mori in his 1970 essay, “The Uncanny Valley.”5 One might, in a creative leap, extend Mori’s ideas to games. Too much brutality also would have a detrimental impact, hence most contests, including the derby, restrict physical violence.6 One cannot, for example, aim to hurt the driver in a collision. Third, Huizinga stipulates that contests are to be held in their own time and marked spaces. Derby drivers, again, would not purposefully smash cars on the roads or even in their own driveways; the events take place in designated areas, even if they are ephemeral ones, and for set time periods with their conclusion clearly marked. The derby ends when one only one car remains running. And, in line with Caillois’s argument, even with prize money awarded, the event can be considered unproductive. To use Caillois’s words, these competitive sports combine both agôn and the imagination in that the audience identifies through mimicry. Caillois awards a prescient form of agency to his spectator. Rather than adopting the typical postwar Frankfurt School inflected rhetoric of the passive and dehumanizing reception of mass culture, Caillois emboldens the audience with participatory energy: “Great sports events are nevertheless special occasions for mimicry, but it must be recalled that the simulation is now transferred from the participants to the audience. It is not the athletes who mimic, but the spectators.”7 Both groups join in, he argues, one on the track and the other in the stands. As to the latter:  “A physical contagion leads them to assume the position of the men or animals in order to help them…. Under these conditions, paralleling the spectacle, a competitive mimicry is born in the public, which doubles the true agôn of the field or track.”8 Participation in the derby includes both the drivers and the raucous fans who at times vote with their hands and feet.9 Huizinga stresses the importance, and even beauty, of the rules that attend all games. They must be binding, he argues, for success and for someone to win. More recent theorists nuance this idea. Authors like Brian Sutton-​Smith and Greg Costikyan, for example, underscore the elements of ambiguity or uncertainty endemic to gaming.10 Participants make 70

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decisions even within the overall framework established by the regulations –​at times by bending the rules. Choices then amount to much of the player’s agency and increase the ebullient, anarchistic spirit of the pastime. Costikyan stresses that games are a way for people to cope with uncertainty in a positive way: “But the reality is we are faced with uncertainty throughout our lives –​and that much of our effort is devoted to managing and ameliorating that uncertainty. Is it any wonder, then, that we have taken this aspect of our lives, and transformed it culturally, made a series of elaborate constructs that subject us to uncertainty –​but in a fictive and nonthreatening way? I’m talking about games, of course.”11 These words apply to the underlying dread and uncertainty that marked the postwar era where people lived with a form of global and stultifying uncertainty as to their future. Winning at an aggressive sport, such as the derby, by following the rules but at the same time triumphing over uncertainty and asserting one’s freedom must have been particularly appealing. Significantly, by 1976, the climate had shifted when the New Games Foundation published the New Games Book, celebrating the pacifist goals of an antiwar generation with a new slate of non-combative diversions. For example, Earthball, where both sides help the other without a designated winner, was developed in the late sixties by the San Francisco War Resisters League.12 The hippy culture held no truck with football, let alone demolition derbies. The American New Left’s antipathy for play as competition and concomitant embrace of its life-​affirming aspects was anticipated in the late fifties by Guy Debord and the Situationists in Europe, who valued games as activities that countered the alienation of the spectacle. Debord was critical of agonistic sports and of Huizinga’s separation of play from life activities, claiming: “The element of competition must disappear in favor of a more authentically collective concept of play: the common creation of selected ludic ambiances. The central distinction that must be transcended is that established between play and ordinary life….”13 Debord moved play out of Huizinga’s separate space, his “magic circle,” or out of the fairgrounds and into public space as a radical critique of the spectacle, performed in ordinary life.14 The derby, however, exists in a more ambivalent position. It maintains the separate space and designated timeframe that is central to Huizinga’s theorizing, and this factor is key to the sport’s practice and meaning. 71

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Yet my thesis problematizes a strict reading of the derby as a violent game and as a purely competitive one. It raises significant questions and paradoxes about what exactly winning means in these contests. The victorious car is running but ruined. Winning is the sum of all the destructions. No significant money is exchanged, no real hero athlete emerges from the fray, just a car numbered something is awarded the prize and someone’s wife, girlfriend, parent or friend in the stands cheers uproariously. Unless a driver hails from the town, any winning car suffices for accolades. The crowds identify with this carnivalesque iconoclash –​with a paired engagement with and parody of extreme sports. They too want the automotive industry to exist, to hire them, to grow the economy; yet all participate gleefully in this rite of its destruction. Agôn, in Caillois’s classification system, relates to economic competition. The derby then, in its ambivalence and embrace of antiprodution, produces a wily critique of capitalism and by extension the military-​industrial complex that had risen to power at exactly the moment of its inception. It both mimics and (on some level) subverts the agonistic mentality of the superpowers. It waivers between a constructive and a destructive stance.

War Games The derby can be considered a wry if unintentional commentary on the ubiquitous war games of the era that formed a central testing ground for the military-​industrial complex. Cold War America, with its ever-​present fear of a World War III, witnessed a steady increase in the use of war games by the military, utilizing human players or computers, with the latter favored by the intellectual Robert McNamara’s coterie in the Department of Defense.15 As a form of political-​social theater, their role gained importance after the Bay of Pigs confrontation. In fact, war historian Martin van Creveld contends that during the postwar era, more than any other country, the United States engaged in such practices and allowed more information about them to be made public.16 Herbert Goldhamer, an initiator and frequent chronicler of their early use, describes in detail how they were first played in the fifties, drawing on over 150 papers written by participants.17 The field was later spearheaded by Andy Marshall at the Pentagon and others who had worked at RAND Corporation, the Research and Development institute 72

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established by the Army Air Force in 1946. As the number of war games skyrocketed, their sites of encounter ranged from government, to universities and to think tanks in a way that broke barriers and set the stage for the kind of replay in the ephemeral visual culture that was ubiquitous at the time. It became Frankenstein’s monster, an exasperated Goldhamer exclaimed.18 Exactly how much the public knew about these activities is a complicated question. The actual war games were classified and it took scholars like Thomas Allen to discover examples in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.19 Finding out about them was something of a hide-​and-​seek game in itself. Information, however, did leak to a culture that was already primed to imagine bombs passing and hitting each other, annihilating the world.20 And it was in the mass culture that the games went public. To the chagrin of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the public at large learned of them on 9 June 1963, when artist and veteran Milton Caniff dramatized a Pentagon exercise in his “Steve Canyon” comic strip.21 Allen describes the sequence as providing a clearer picture of the games than the official movie he was shown two decades later, in 1985.22 The civil defense propaganda films of the fifties in themselves encouraged a form of war game. Millions of American schoolchildren in the early 1950s watched Duck and Cover, an animated film that taught a (now absurd) mock exercise of scrambling under desks and covering their heads and the back of their necks with their hands.23 Just as generals played simulated games in war rooms, the children were trained to outsmart nuclear annihilation. Here and elsewhere the slippage between the military and domestic spheres was notable. The hexagonal grid system, for example, first used in board game maps –​with military personnel hired as consultants –​was subsequently favored by the Department of Defense.24 Stanley Kubrick, too, appeared well versed in these practices when he filmed Dr. Strangelove, which was first scheduled to debut in 1963. Viewed in this context the demolition derby serves as an early model of bottom-​up organization, involving battles of adversaries with rules, predictions, turbulence, and elements of unpredictable friction and confusion often deemed the “fog of war” –​an apt phrase for the smoky visuals of the derby. The military use of the word “friction” includes phenomena that interfere with the effective implementation of a strategy, such as weather 73

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conditions, mechanical failure or the mental state of the enemy –​the factors that arise in real war situations is how Karl von Clausewitz, the preeminent nineteenth-​century war historian, characterizes it. Friction, he writes, “is the only conception which in a fairly general way distinguishes real war from war on paper.”25 As a military gaming model, the demolition derby is rife with uncontrollable and unpredictable forces, with its hand-​altered cars, makeshift tracks and the individualistic, undisciplined spirit of the contestants. The drivers in the first derbies may very likely have been military vets as the culture of draft dodging in America occurred later in the sixties, especially after the 1969 draft lottery extended the pool to include nearly all men of appropriate age. (With the acceleration of the Vietnam War, most dissenters came from the universities, and contestants for these later derbies in all likelihood did not generally hail from this rebellious population.) Derby drivers in the early sixties may have practiced military games, exercises and maneuvers or seen combat in Korea. They willingly complied with the rules as to timing and safety restrictions in car alterations, but they did not have to answer to a commanding officer, and in the end they acted by and for themselves with great élan. They both followed rules, as in a military game, and acted individualistically in the kind of unquantifiable way that challenged military gamers and rendered their results problematic. Although agonistic contests date back at least to the Greeks, the demolition derby forefronts the element of destruction, or winning by destroying, which had particular resonance in the postwar era with its war-​gaming culture fed by a climate of nuclear fear.26 The space race exacerbated the anxiety. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite, Sputnik, the realization that both of the Cold War adversaries were proficient in this regard only heightened paranoia. Deriving expert gaming models became more urgent. The use of political-​military modeling grew into what is today called game theory and, as shall be discussed, centered around the Prisoner’s Dilemma as the ultimate Cold War paradigm. These ephemeral confrontations had a significant relationship to the visual culture of destruction –​a fact that the officials understood. As one RAND theorist argued in 1959, since they address human conflict, “it is not surprising that so many varieties of war games exist. In the symbolic and social form of parlor games, like chess and checkers; in the active and concrete 74

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games of children, like ‘Cowboys and Indians’; in the map maneuvers of the military staff; in the campaign studies of the research analyst; and in the mock exercise of military training are found examples of the appeal and use of war games.”27 Thomas Allen describes the slippage in meaning between terms such as gaming, war gaming, simulation and model, noting that civilians and army personnel used them differently and at times interchangeably.28 According to a 1959 RAND report: The term ‘war game’ covers a large number of different activities. To some it means a game in which two opposing players move ‘pieces’ on a board. To some it means a matrix denoting the ‘payoffs’ of two opposing sets of strategies. To some it means hypothetical military operations carried out on a map or sand table. And, to still others, it means ‘mock’ exercises in which thousands of troops assault a beach as part of their training.29

These words then encompass a range of practices, from the Napoleonic-​era sandbox models to computer simulations where monitors display the exact images that would appear during an actual war.30 In fact, today this potent topic –​the relationship of video gaming to real-​time drone operators –​fuels the work of contemporary video artists such as Omer Fast. While the sandbox is make-​believe, the computer equipment used by gamers and the military can be the same. The terminology also points to the longevity and universality of the tradition that ranges from games with toy soldiers to issues of simulation and discourses on power. The militarist Frederick the Great, Foucault reminds us in his own exegesis on power, was obsessed with the use of automata.31 While the historical precedents of war gaming are of interest, the Cold War era produced significant changes. The confluence of international antagonisms, nuclear fears, televised confrontations and the computer fed a huge shift in the importance and ubiquity of gaming technologies and strategies, which in turn reverberated in the ephemeral visual culture of destruction –​in demolition derbies, newly created accurate plastic models by Revell, and the mass marketing of combat and survival board games. As Allen contends, if history helps explain the development of these games, it helps explain their impact on the Pentagon itself. We can add to this statement their impact on the visual culture as well. During WWII both the Japanese and the Germans actively played war games to prepare for invasions.32 Three months before the Battle of Pearl 75

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Harbor, Japanese Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, who masterminded the invasion, spent eleven days in a war game that climaxed with the surprise attack itself. Most important, a new form of war gaming emerged in the United States, based on operations research (OR), which in turn was grounded in mathematical and scientific data (e.g., for every 60 mines planted, one ship would be destroyed).33 Using chess strategies, OR researchers tried to anticipate submarine moves. Immediately after the war OR set up base in Baltimore and began playing Tin Soldier, which evolved in 1954 into the Maximum Complexity Computer Battle, considered the first computerized analytical war game of its type.34 Douglas Aircraft Company, contracted by the U.S. Air Force, assumed management of this research under the acronym title RAND and was to become the force behind nuclear Cold War strategic planning. It spawned the political-​ military war games between opposing Blue and Red forces so favored by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who assumed office in 1961. Nuclear war, as a defensive or offensive event, became a central focus of such gaming tactics. Operations research was born in the real war, but systems analysis, as this new initiative was called, planned for a WWIII with a passionate belief in the potential efficacy of gaming with simulated models. Game theory became the model of choice for the nuclear era. The brainchild of mathematician John von Neumann, published as the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior in 1944, it grew from his experiences bluffing in poker games into a game loosely related to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. The players’ names, Sam and Ivan, clearly pointed to the main Cold War adversaries. Simply described, if two prisoners are separated from each other, they face a dilemma: if neither informs on the other, they both receive shorter sentences. However, each has to trust in the other’s loyalty. If one prisoner informs, she receives a lesser sentence forcing her partner to take the brunt of the punishment. The rational thing would be for neither prisoner to inform, but they risk a longer sentence if they are betrayed. That most participants minimize their losses and inform was the common conclusion. Some scientists today doubt these results, speculating that humans have a bias to cooperate and leading us to ponder whether Cold War interpretations, culled from a culture of crisis, created their own form of fiction.35 The implications of this loaded form of negotiation on nuclear warfare in the postwar era are clear:  “If you can’t maximize your games by 76

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disarming, then minimize your losses with a nuclear buildup ....”36 Manuel De Landa believes that one of the most damaging aspects of game theory during the Cold War was the paranoia it evoked as to the opponent’s psyche. The problem of “thinking Red” underlay much of the computerized war game technology as it evolved. Players tried to inhabit the mindset of their opponents, and on one occasion, Richard M. Bissell, Jr., the architect of the Bay of Pigs invasion, played the “Red” position so brilliantly that the results of the game were classified.37 Cold War gamers often substituted the well-​known game of chicken for Prisoner’s Dilemma as a more apt analogue for nuclear deterrence. As commonly played, cars speed toward each other, and the first to swerve away loses or “chickens out.” If no one falters then both die –​a clear parallel to WWIII. “Chicken” became the basis of an actual game played at RAND, introduced by Daniel Ellsberg after he joined the organization in 1959.38 It enacted the military strategy of Mutual Assured Deterrence, or MAD, where showdowns of strength were believed to act as a means of deterrence. Historians define the decade of 1954 to 1964 –​key years for this study –​as the golden age of nuclear deterrence theory.39 Economist Thomas Schelling popularized the use of game theory for international standoffs as a form of deterrence theory, first in Strategy of Conflict of 1960 and then later in Arms and Influence of 1966. International conflicts, he maintained, were a competition in risk taking, a test of nerves. Once again we can conjure the image of automobiles on mud tracks (a frequent illustration of Prisoner’s Dilemma in the media), waiting for the signal to crash into each other, with emergency trucks standing by to save lives if need be. The derby was a match of nerves, generally safe but still dangerous. Schelling specifically wrote about “Chicken” in the context of nuclear deterrence: “Cold war politics has been likened, by Bertrand Russell and others, to a game of ‘Chicken.’ This is described as a game in which two teen-​age motorists head for each other on a highway ….‘Chicken’ is not just a game played by delinquent teen-​agers with their hot-​rods in southern California; it is a universal form of adversary engagement.”40 Schelling attributes the effectiveness of the analogy to a shared element of uncertainty. The world could blow up and the cars could collide. In a comment suggestive for spectator involvement, he adds that if you are asked to play and refuse, you are in fact still playing.41 77

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Derby drivers in the early sixties did not have to know the actual games played by RAND to understand the implications of the youthful game of chicken. The notion of deadly missiles aimed for head-​on collisions was common fare in the news. And sports were clearly fodder for Cold War politics.42 The populace at large watched their leaders playing chicken in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis through indistinct photographs that problematized the truth.43 Pete Townshend refers to the collective memory of that moment, writing that in 1964, “ I wasn’t trying to play beautiful music, I was confronting my audience with the awful, visceral sound of what we all knew was the simple absolute of our frail existence –​one day an aeroplane would carry the bomb that would destroy us all in a flash. It could happen any time. The Cuban Crisis less than two years before had proved that.”44 Many people (probably Schelling too) had watched the famous game of chicken in Nicholas Ray’s 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause. Significant here is that the deadly crash follows a sequence in the film where the main character, played by James Dean, watches a dramatic presentation in the observatory of the death of the universe. The scene concludes with a blinding flash, an enormous red blast reminiscent of a nuclear explosion, succeeded by an epilogue rife with postwar existential angst concerning the insignificance of man who “existing alone seems an episode of little consequence.” The narrator ruminates on man’s destiny under the shadow of cosmic and human forces of destruction: “The heavens are still and cold once more. In all the immensity of our universe and the galaxies beyond, the Earth will not be missed. Through the infinite reaches of space, the problems of man seem trivial and naive indeed, and man existing alone seems himself an episode of little consequence. That’s all. Thank you for your attention. Thank you very much.”45 The boys in the film then dare each other to a variant of chicken –​the winner would be the last to bail out before his car hurtles off a cliff. In the movie and in life, disaffected postwar youths play ephemeral games of chicken while the military plays comparable games of strategy with their future.46 Even with the differences in simulation and presence between contests, concerts, computer games, board games, films, televised photos, long distance telephone calls and other forms of mediation, chicken was being played or feared. One asserted one’s freedom in the face of mass destruction even at the risk of death. 78

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Figure 2-​1  Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), story by Nicholas Ray, Stewart Stern and Irving Shulman, directed by Nicholas Ray.

Manuel De Landa in his important book, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, addresses recent issues of artificial intelligence and chaos theory but grounds his ideas in the pre and postwar moments. With the birth of the computer came the problematics of machine intelligence. In regard to Cold War nuclear games, machines apparently made different decisions. Whereas human players stopped short of pushing the button, computers did not hesitate to explode nuclear bombs. (The award-​winning 1983 movie Wargames led with this premise.) Think tanks and game designers were hired to break this impasse. Mathematical models, however, fell short of understanding the effects of friction, or unforeseen factors, on warfare. The demolition derby acquires new meaning in this context. It both mimics the era’s war games, in particular the game of chicken used to strategize in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and exhibits irrational friction that occurs in actual battles. The problematic of realism is central to a study of games and therefore of ephemeral visual culture. Games must be fiction we are told by Caillois and Huizinga. Coming too close to the truth ruins it, just as too much realism causes revulsion in robotics, according to Mori in “The Uncanny Valley.” Cheating, for example, does not destroy a game –​in fact some recent theorists feel that cheating as subversion is an intrinsic aspect of play47 –​but 79

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skepticism does. Fiction, both authors contend, is a key to the successful rendition of a game as a “free unreality.”48 Once the fantasy or believability of the game is dismantled by a nihilist or “spoilsport,” it no longer functions as a game. In the context of war games, it was just this grey area between fantasy and reality that led to the incendiary power of the derby in the early sixties. The Pentagon, RAND Corporation, military academies, and televised reality blurred this distinction. In the postwar era and today, these entities aim for a high degree of accuracy in both information and resulting strategies. The situation is compounded by the use of computer simulations, since, to reiterate, gaming monitors can be the same as those used in actual warfare –​even more so with the twenty-​first-century use of drones. It was further compounded by television, where nuclear confrontations were broadcast at a moment when televised “reality” was being questioned (in 1958 a scandal surrounding the popular quiz show Twenty-​One, was made public). Playing games of war that border subversively on the games the Pentagon plays, which in turn border subversively on actual military tactics and simulations, form actions that slip between the positive forces of play and the negative ones of destruction. Or, put another way, the public and public officials all were practising a form of playing with the truth. Derby drivers outsmarted destruction. The games spread from the military to everyday life. The fiction of the game protected you; the realism of the game empowered you. And it is in this slippery space between accuracy and fantasy that both the government and the populace resided.

Board Games and Simulations As the Pentagon and RAND Corporation played war games, popular new board games came on the market that bore an eerie resemblance to the official ones. This was after all the era that characterized Cold War antagonisms as a game of dominoes. Games of war indeed were a staple of history from chess, to toy soldiers (within the civilian population), to miniature battle games (played by Prussian generals), and now widely available prepackaged games. Mass printing techniques invented during the industrial revolution certainly increased the production of board games, but many late ​nineteenth-​century games addressed moral concerns (how to have a better life) or increasing one’s capital.49 The postwar era, however, saw a 80

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rise in military board games, with the United States as the key producer, and better marketing and packaging trumped the earlier initiatives. Other countries, such as Germany, developed excellent games, but –​understandably, given its postwar economic growth and occlusion of memory –​they focused more on monetary rather than military issues.50 Among the most popular of the American board games was Tactics, invented by Charles S. Roberts and published in 1954. Subsequently Roberts founded the seminal company Avalon Hill (which he lost to creditors in 1963).51 Tactics II, marketed by Avalon Hill in 1958, has been described as the first commercial war board game and credited with siring an industry.52 Its distinctive hexagonal grid, which allowed for movement in all directions, became a hallmark of military board games to follow. The market for these games exploded, spreading from the United States to Canada, Germany and Great Britain. Related clubs followed suit, as did magazines, reaching a readership of tens of thousands of individuals.53

Figure 2-​2  Tactics II, Avalon Hill, 1961/73.

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Tactics is played by two adversaries, in the tradition of chess, but differing by the inclusion of a map-​board showing the topography of the warring countries, called Blue and Red –​a designation with a long history in war games (H.G. Wells used it too) and a particular resonance during the Cold War. Roads, rivers, cities, etc. are demarcated. In Tactics II, the Blue capital is surrounded by mountains and woods, while Red’s is only accessible over water. Unlike chess, where players move single pieces, the entire army may advance or retreat. Instructions include a basic game and a tournament variant. The manual (from a version copyrighted 1961 and​1973) stresses the importance of the accuracy of the game by establishing its pedigree through high level military advisors: “It is a compendium of the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s’ on how to run a war, gleaned from the expertise of Avalon Hill’s Technical Advisory Staff. The staff includes Rear Admiral C. Wade McClusky, hero of the battle of Midway; General Anthony C. McAuliffe, whose reply of ‘nuts’ to the German surrender demand at Bastogne is legendary; and Colonel Donald L. Dickson of Guadalcanal fame….” The manual problematizes the slippery term “war game”: “What is a wargame? It is a method of portraying real-​life events in an exciting game setting. It is often a means of exercising martial skills without the violence associated with the real-​life application.” The instructions pointedly distinguish its product from chess, stating that Tactics is “realistic rather than abstract,” reflecting what “really happens on the real-​life battlefield,” but like chess, it is based on strategy: “The only element of chance present in the game is that which reflects the real-​life uncertainties involved in battle.”54 Clearly, some of the debates surrounding actual war games are embedded in this prose. With a nod to the role friction plays in battles, the manual underscores its fundamental belief in the importance of honing strategy through playing games. RAND, as noted, was highly invested in playing comparable, if more sophisticated games, and used the same Red and Blue opponents featured in Tactics and Tactics II. Just as RAND attempted to perfect strategy in nuclear defense, the board game too had a nuclear component. In the optional rules for advanced games, nuclear weapons are added to both sides. They cannot be used until the second month of game time, the booklet stipulates, and they cannot be fired where friendly units reside. In the last two pages of the instructions, where the writers ruminate on tactics, the military advisors behind 82

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the game reveal their own thinking. Under a section labeled “Problems of nuclear warfare,” the authors claim that nuclear weapons do not alter the basic principles of war but are considered merely new weapons in a chain of ever advancing arms technology. They do cause a huge number of casualties, the authors concede, but strategies can be formulated to use these weapons effectively. The key tactic is what they call “the art of compact dispersion –​keeping one’s forces far apart in space and close together in time.” They conclude, “Actually, the introduction of nuclear weapons into the game provides the player with an opportunity to experiment in an untested area. Nuclear weapons make the game an even greater test of the players’ skill.” Because such skill is needed, they warn that only seasoned players should try it.55 As absurd as these words sound to twenty-​first-century ears, one must remember that children practiced air raid drills for nuclear attacks. The board games were designed to play with destruction, and opponents who might hesitate to drop a bomb in a war game involving individuals were less hesitant in a computer simulation and would readily move pieces on a board protected by the fiction of the game. And, of course, as with all play-​at-​home pastimes, the participants can bend the rules at whim if they so choose. Tactics was not the only game of this kind in the fifties and early sixties. Nuclear War, for example, apparently available from 1965, included a spinner and cards and ended when one or no country is inhabited.56 The instruction manual for Tactics II boasted about the realism of the new game with its convincingly rendered map-​board of the terrain, approved by military elite. The public was used to seeing maps in a geopolitical context. Glossy magazines like Life featured this kind of imagery. A wartime photo essay of Margaret Bourke White’s pictures, for example, portrays intelligence officers poring over maps of their proposed target.57 And can one forget the starkly surreal war room in Dr. Strangelove with its ominous maps bearing down from above and its game room appearance? Maps in the media existed in that slippery space between fantasy and reality. Board game players attempted to beat the odds of survival in a nuclear age, and like television viewing in the 1950s, they could be played communally in the public space of the home.58 Families built monopolies together and won wars through the agency and control of strategy. The games cycled from the military to the university to the family and everyday life. These 83

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board games were not WWIII enactments, but as we have seen, complex strategy (with friction minimalized) was the hope of the future in game theory and so perhaps one was practising for a time to come. A person did not have to risk being pulverized in a derby car crash, but could instead play games of war in the comfort of the family living room or newly built “den” for suburbanites. Fiction here was physically safer, but still slippery. In the early 1950s, John von Neumann began to think of creating automata that both fixed and reproduced themselves, leading to the theoretical possibility of creating self-​reproducing machines. For this purpose, he used the world of “cellular automata,” where a screen could be divided into a grid comprising both live and dead cells. “Finally we create a set of rules that define the conditions under which every cell on the computer screen would stay ‘alive,’ ‘die,’ or ‘be born.’ The idea is to begin with a given pattern of live cells (‘the robot’) and watch its evolution as we apply the rules over and over again.”59 The issue of birth, life and death within the emerging computer ecosystem grew out of Cold War research, with its survival studies, and made its way into the ephemeral visual culture in the form of a popular game called Life, invented by John Conway. Life began as a board game but it soon shifted to the computer. For long-​lived populations, Conway sometimes used a PDP-​7 with a program written by M.J.T. Guy and S.R. Bourne. Martin Gardner promoted the game in a 1970 article in Scientific American, writing: “This month we consider Conway’s latest brainchild, a fantastic solitaire pastime he calls ‘life.’ Because of its analogies with the rise, fall and alternations of a society of living organisms, it belongs to a growing class of what are called ‘simulation games’ –​games that resemble real-​life processes.”60 Gardner used Cold War survival lingo even though population concerns (rather than the bomb) appear to be the motivating force in 1970. (Also, to be discussed in Chapter 4, this was the moment of Jane Jacobs’s activism against rationalist city planning in favor of one that values diversity and emergence.)61 Cells die from under-​or overcrowding. But above all it was the self-​generating and emergent properties of the game that accounted for Life’s success and longevity. After decades of Cold War anxiety that focused on the possible extinction of humanity, one could now imagine a new form of life in simulations that had emergent properties. For an era where people assuaged their fears in science fiction and post-​apocalyptic scenarios, built bomb shelters, or enjoyed agonistic 84

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contests on public fairgrounds, this game demonstrated the possibilities of alternate life forms. Life, death and survival could take on new meanings and games now came closer to “reality” as they struggled to produce life itself. Although domestic war games were a masculine stronghold, some women played. The full title of H.G. Wells’s book discloses his feminist concerns: Little Wars (A Game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books).62 Fletcher Pratt, well-known naval historian and war-​gamer, asserts that women too played his games with toy ships in the thirties –​their popularity grew so much that equal numbers of men and women participated.63 Nonetheless, domestic war games were for the most part a male pursuit in the postwar era. James F. Dunnigan, who formed a war game company in the late sixties and developed a market research system, estimates that by the early nineties only 1 percent of war-​gamers were women, increasing to 2 or 3 percent including those playing on a computer.64 Of course, once a game enters the home both girls and boys are free to play, but with gender roles so clearly established in the fifties, toys were marketed accordingly, with advertisements depicting boys with war games. Such discrimination was ingrained in American schools in that era. Boys were sent to work with tools in “shop” and girls to home economics courses for instruction in cooking and sewing. Television and magazines depicted idle, stay-​at-​home wives wearing pointed shoes and New Look dresses, even though by 1959 women comprised 34 percent of the work force.65 These institutionalized gender divisions fostered entrenched performances of gender as evidenced by the hypermasculinity of the derby drivers and alternatively the parodies of such behavior by Mad magazine’s comic artists in the fifties. In the home, however, the whole family (when so entitled) watched television and played popular board games from Monopoly to Life. Generally speaking, women did not partake in the postwar games at RAND or in the military. Allen, for example, opines that “women players are as rare in the male world of the wargame as they are in football locker rooms.”66 As late as 1984, when Allen was invited into a naval war game, he observed only one woman among the six teams.67 Their absence is not surprising given women’s problematic role in the military during and after WWII. Although included (the WAVES were established in 1942 85

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and African American women were allowed to join in 1944), they often served auxiliary roles. As indicated in the popular press, when women joined the air force after the war they could be belittled as the “gentler sex.”68 Recent feminist studies have shown that the presence of women soldiers in the visual culture was a site of gender trouble and boundary crossing. Negotiating varied fears, from excessive allure to homophobia, the media in the United States and Britain charted complicated terrain and often landed on the image of the military nurse as a compromise.69 Kubrick’s parody states it clearly: there were no women at the table in his war room.

War Games in Art I have drawn on theories of the everyday and of play to argue that the art and visual culture of the era worked through comparable issues in regard to destruction while they also responded to conflicted political myths. As an artistic strategy, however, artists on occasion used games critically to subvert and undermine antagonistic polarizations. During the Cold War the superpowers utilized games to plan moves in what they saw as a situation of unwavering and irreconcilable conflict –​like automobiles speeding toward each other in a game of chicken or dominoes inevitably falling under pressure. At the same time artists engaged equivalent play formats, but as a model for a new participatory democracy or as a form of institutional critique. Their practices aligned more with the carnivalesque, antiproductive character of the derby crash than with its military doppelganger. No one was a winner, but participants could voice different sides in a post-​Marxist model.70 By the late sixties and early seventies, alongside the antiwar and whole earth community, artists began to play non-combative games as the Situationist and Fluxus artists had done before them. Play for these artists formed a model of antiauthoritarian behavior. John Chamberlain specifically addressed such concerns in 1969 when he collaborated with RAND for the 1971 Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition titled Art and Technology –​a West Coast version of New York’s E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) whose 9 Evenings:  Theater and Engineering were staged in New York City in 1966. It was a controversial assignment during the height of the antiwar movement. Leftist 86

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critic Max Kozloff castigated such pairings that occurred conjointly with nightly news revelations of atrocities in Vietnam. In the case of RAND and Chamberlain the relationship was already fraught.71 Refusing to produce a sculpture, Chamberlain chose a more conceptual and controversial project. Believing that RAND already had answers and was actually looking for questions that fit their preconceived agenda, he sent out a questionnaire providing answers for comment and then compiled the results in two sections: “You can take the pages apart and shuffle them. They’re see-​through pages, six lines to a page. The idea was you play with the information any way you want. Anything you do with it is OK. Throw it away. Start a fire with it. I don’t care.”72 Chamberlain in this manner exploited humor and chance to trouble the deep-​rooted patterns of corporate decision-​making in the stronghold of military-​industrial power. In a discussion of the difference between games played by the populace and the artistic use of such gaming tactics, Mary Flanagan argues that artists purposefully use them critically through strategies she calls reskinning, replaying and unplaying. The Fluxus artists, she points out, used humor and player agency as part of their artistic practices. They, like many other artists, focused on more implicit rather than explicit rules.73 The written instructions give some of the parameters, but the unstated ones are often quite revealing. The vicissitudes of the everyday, in other words, interrupt these predetermined borders. So, for example, the rule is that the audience can cut Ono’s dress in Cut Piece, but how they do it makes the difference. I believe that most viewers of the Maysles’s film remember both the cocky arrogance of one player who announces he will take his time and Ono’s rattled reaction. Some artists looked back to the Surrealists and their use of games to problematize binaries such as reality and the dream, or work and leisure.74 Agôn, as a pure spirit of competition, was likewise undermined by the force of the individual psyche tapped through the solo or group practice of automatism. Öyvind Fahlström, whose postwar gaming strategies are deeply relevant here, cut his teeth on Surrealist thought. Similarly, the antiproductive side of play found its counterpart in the Fluxus activities of the day. In their actions, what Maciunas calls Art-​Amuseuments, there is no competition and there are no winners. Just as Fluxus artists engaged in institutional critique in their distribution system, circumventing galleries, they 87

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countered capitalist notions of economic gain through unfettered competition. Yoko Ono in Cut Piece is both destroying and giving. Fahlström, too, wanted his works to be mass-​produced and potentially playable by all.75 Once again, if we compare the demolition derby to these artists there is parity in its antiproductive rather than its antagonistic character, but with a significant difference in intention. I am not arguing that the derby drivers set out to critique, but operated in a more ambivalent manner –​supporting America’s prominent industry while destroying its prominent symbol, or reenacting the fears of nuclear conflagration and highway disasters with cheers and laughter. Although many artists could be relevant here, Buckminster Fuller and Öyvind Fahlström utilize specific military war-​gaming models in their practice and produce ephemeral rites of destruction in the form of games to be played by the public in a non-combative and hence, for the era, subversive way. Fuller, whose career stretched from WWI though his death in 1983, was famous for his participatory innovative gaming strategies, in particular his World Game, developed in 1961, during the heyday of the government’s use of war gaming and at the same time as the promulgation of the demolition derby. Fuller was a navy man who designed military technology during WWII. As he prided himself on his training in the U.S. Naval Academy in “effective forecasting arts” and in “design science,”76 he no doubt had participated in military games and benefited from this knowledge by using the gaming model throughout his career. Like the artists mentioned earlier who used games as subversion, Fuller learned from navy war games but altered their fundamental agonistic character. In his words: In playing the game I propose that we set up a different system of games from that of Dr. John Von Neuman [sic.] whose ‘Theory of Games’ was always predicated upon one side losing 100 percent. His game theory is called ‘Drop Dead.’ In our World Game we propose to explore and test by assimilated adoption various schemes of ‘How to Make the World Work.’ To win the World Game everybody must be made physically successful. Everybody must win.77

Figure 2-​3 shows Fuller playing the World Game with students at the New York Studio School in the summer of 1969. Although the World Game was developed in 1961, it drew upon some of Fuller’s earlier wartime experiments such as his successful interactive 88

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Figure 2-​3  Buckminster Fuller, The World Game, NY Studio School, summer 1969, courtesy of The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller.

map, published in 1943 in Life magazine.78 Maps as representations of power were ubiquitous during WWII, when, given the prevalence of aerial warfare, President Roosevelt and others used them as a vehicle to imagine a new global military theater.79 Photos of military personnel planning through map moves were widespread in the media and beautifully captured by Bourke-​White. Fuller’s Dymaxion Map was designed to avoid the distortions of a round globe and transcend physical problems of cartography. The map could be assembled either in a three-​dimensional or flat, but the latter is of utmost importance here as he encouraged the readers to “play” with the pieces to understand, for example, Japan’s or Germany’s perspective. The layout, Life tells us, can be centered on any world power to help in understanding the geographical underpinnings of their point of view. Readers were encouraged to cut out Fuller’s map –​an action that in some sense amounted to an ephemeral war game –​but with a participatory model that enabled one to discover alternative strategies. To some degree one was “thinking Red,” but with an openness to many points of view that led to the radical form of participatory democracy of his later World Game.80 Fuller envisioned a world politics based on cooperation rather than a Darwinian survival of the fittest. He became the guru of the whole earth generation of the late sixties, speaking at hundreds of colleges internationally over the decades while introducing his World Game model. He self-​ fashioned as a naval captain redesigning military games to save the world from impending destruction,81 reliant on a mega computer that stored 89

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information on the world’s resources and was housed in a domed control room. He expounds with messianic fervor: I proposed that, on this stretched out reliably accurate, world map of our Spaceship Earth, a great world logistics game would be played .... The players as individuals or teams would each develop their own theory of how to make the total world work successfully for all of humanity. Each individual or team would play his theory through to the end of his predeclared program. It could be played with or without competitors.82

Although Fuller’s vision was noncompetitive, it was introduced to youths who had grown up in the era of rampant government war games, participated in “duck and cover” exercises in school, laughed at Dr. Strangelove’s war room or Milton Caniff ’s comic strip, most likely played Tactics as well as Monopoly with its competitive economic model, and experienced on some level the slippage between games in the living room and those played by the military. In the postwar era games often slipped dangerously into reality. Fuller hoped that the World Game would model a new world order in this manner. The multimedia artist Öyvind Fahlström’s interactive game works from the fifties through the early seventies, when he turned Monopoly into a participatory political game, are comparable. With over two hundred pieces, the gallery viewers can play with capitalism,83 while engaging in a subversive form of war g​ aming. They can manipulate the elements, variables as he called them –​silhouettes cut out of plastic and sheet metal with magnets attached –​in seemingly endless ways, creating finished pictures that, in his words, stand, “somewhere in the intersection of paintings, games (type Monopoly and war games) and puppet theater.”84 Indeed, they function like Giacometti’s board game sculptures, but the moves are actual, not subconscious. They were, in fact, meant to be mass-​produced and available to all “so that anyone interested can have a picture machine in his home and ‘manipulate the world’ according to his or my choices.”85 All that is necessary to play is rules, Fahlström contends, as he jettisons the Cold War strategies of Neumann and others in favor of the chance operations of Cagean practices.86 In sum, his project oscillates between play as creation and playing the game as a form of negotiation.87 A truly international artist, Fahlström was of Swedish descent, spent his early years in Brazil where he was born, only to be marooned in Sweden and separated precipitously from his parents due to the outbreak of 90

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WWII. The remainder of his life was peripatetic –​as he moved between New York, Paris and Rome –​wanderings and ruptures which no doubt fostered the kind of global perspective requisite for mapping and geopolitical games. In his The Cold War of 1963–6​5, a collection of whimsical, at times cartoonish, magnetic figures can be manipulated in an uncontrolled and variable manner. One could say the participant creates her own comic sequence. Fahlström admired comic artists such as George Herriman and made his own version of Krazy Kat.88 He also gravitated to the provocative underground comics of his day such as those by Robert Crumb or the creators of EC Comics and MAD magazine. Images from EC Comics, drawn from his extensive personal collection, appear in the details of The Cold War.89 He admired the energetic lines, lively silhouettes and element of time of the comic idiom,90 but these artists were also comrades-​in-​arms in a wry critique of the triumphant postwar American war machine and politics.

Figure 2-​4  Öyvind Fahlström, The Cold War, 1963–​65. Variable diptych. Tempera on vinyl, metal, plexiglas and magnets 244 × 152.5 × 2.5 cm (each panel) /​96.1 × 60 × 1 inches (each panel) © 2016 Sharon Avery-​Fahlström.

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Fahlström described The Cold War: The two panels … stand for East and West. In between them is an empty space (neutral zone). The East and West contain figures, the central zone contains signs (character-​forms)…. Only a few of the c. fifty elements in the painting can unambiguously be associated with actual political reality. Reality is shattered into fragments. The isolated elements are not pictures, they are a machine to make pictures –​“a picture organ”.91

They also present a new form of non-agonistic play where pieces can be moved at will between what traditionally would be considered enemy camps.92 In this form of critical play Fahlström arguably restructures the war games of the era that were in turn based on game theory and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Pamela Lee argues persuasively that these new works trouble the forced consensus building endemic to these games and substitute instead a more open model, or one that dramatizes the conflict between restriction, consensus and agonistics.93 And so, like the demolition derby contestants, Fahlström lived under the cloud of nuclear warfare, standoffs and war games, and he in turn formed strategic models to save or “manipulate the world.” But like Fuller, his response was to subvert such antagonistic models of play. In wanting to make his game available to the public, he hoped that families would reconsider the prevailing military models and would retire Tactics or other ubiquitous war board games, in favor of his open-​ended product as a new route for playing with destruction in the ephemeral visual culture.

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3 Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction

Much has been written about the hobbyist craze that filled the “new leisure” time of the middle class in the 1950s. The business press of the day devoted considerable space to the economic ramifications of free-​time activities shifting from a privileged class to more of the populace at large. One journalist countered the fear that spare time would lead to dissipation and idleness or involvement with mind numbing mass cultural activities, reporting instead that the “average man” is engaged in active pursuits that he can carry on independently such as making a table with his recently purchased Skil-​Saw.1 Power tools grossed $200 million in 1953, according to one publication, and gardening was a passion as well, with the Department of Commerce estimating that a staggering $836 million was spent by individuals on seeds and plants.2 Lewis H. Glaser, the president of Revell Inc, a maker of plastic models, revealed that his business had grown from $1 million in 1951 to $7.4 million in 1955, thanks to the switch from toys to hobby kits, which he presciently released to variety stores like F.W. Woolworths rather than just to hobby shops.3 Not new to the era, hobbies had been popular, particularly in the thirties, but what changed was their marketing. Abetted by postwar production methods, they were now promoted in snappy packaging in ubiquitous five-​ and-​dime and toy stores. Mass-​produced paint-​by-​numbers kits, plastic 93

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soldiers, board games and plastic models were huge financial successes in the ephemeral visual culture. In 1953 paint-​by-​numbers sets grossed over $8 million in the United States alone,4 while these hobbies in total earned as much as $300 million that year.5 (The sixties counterculture embraced a whole-​earth craft aesthetic that in defiance of the commercialism of the fifties was more in line with the “good toy” tradition and less reliant on marketed goods.)6 Major manufacturers such as Revell, Mattel and Hasbro proved savvy entrepreneurs conversant with the latest marketing strategies. They produced lines of products by adding accessories to Barbie or GI Joe, or initiating a themed series of car or boat models. In this sense they emulated automotive sales practices dating to the thirties, when, for example, General Motors offered different lines by changing exterior detailing and chrome embellishments rather than the engine itself.7 The hobby kits were fodder for what the mass culture critics of the day condemned as mindless and repetitive forms of consumption lacking in individuality and creativity. Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White’s anthology Mass Culture: the Popular Arts in America, 1957, which included Clement Greenberg’s seminal 1939 essay “Avant Garde and Kitsch,” exemplifies this position, although the chapters focus on films and written production such as pulp fiction and comic books. With their clear directions and simple elements that made for easy somewhat mindless assembly, the kits did not thwart but certainly did not encourage individual creativity.8 Glaser boasted that the average snap-​together project took twenty minutes to assemble and the more difficult ones two hours.9 The Revell instructions tell the maker exactly what to do and (similar to paint-​ by-​numbers) stipulate what colors to use and where to put them; some models came with decals for effortless decoration. In this sense they veered away from the popular construction toys that children played with in the postwar era, such as Erector sets, Tinkertoy and Lincoln Logs (all originating before WWI), and the newer Legos that encouraged imaginative play through open-​ended possibilities.10 They also parted ways with the earlier craftsman tradition of model making, as the fifties kits were relatively easy to assemble, led to ready satisfaction, and, of course, the desire to purchase and make another. A great deal of writing denigrates hobbies and other leisure activities as reifying agents of capitalism. Since finishing a model, for example, required 94

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little creativity or craft skills, the practice was often critiqued as replicating the alienation of the workplace. Other authors, however, complicate this narrative. As hobbies relate to the industrially produced division between work and leisure, they engage the diversity of positions endemic to this discourse. Whether hobbies mimic the repetitiveness of the workplace or condemn depersonalized labor by substituting a more affirmative process is a subject of much debate. As Henri Lefebvre argues, work and leisure are two parts of the same whole: “We must therefore imagine a ‘work-​leisure’ unity, for this unity exists, and everyone tries to programme the amount of time at his disposal according to what his work is –​and what it is not.”11 Although the profitable kits no doubt furthered the capitalist agenda of the fifties, they also fostered new forms of mass activity that relate to issues of the everyday and to play. Amateurism as a facet of fifties life did not escape authors of the everyday and play theorists. Lefebvre and de Certeau both considered it as a radical democratic practice. De Certeau focused on activities such as cooking or gardening, which involve passionate rather than passive involvement.12 So, too, with model making. It also can engage serious concentration combined with the pleasure of play. Caillois weighs in on this positive assessment, characterizing the making of intricate scale models of machines as a positive and creative way for a worker in an industrialized world to “avenge himself upon reality.”13 And for Herbert Marcuse, the guru of the sixties generation, play was freedom. Relying on the writings of Friedrich Schiller, play, Marcuse contends, is “a manifestation of freedom itself.”14 Playing with destruction problematizes these various readings of the hobby culture of the fifties and early sixties. Although the games and models were certainly not all war related, many of them were. It is in these pastimes of the hobbyist craze that rites of destruction were ubiquitously played out in the ephemeral visual culture. The kits were marketing successes that echoed the products of the military-​industrial complex; yet as participatory play objects they afford a modicum of pleasure. But when the models were of frightful war machines, issues of trauma unsettled the mix. Here again we think of an iconoclash with its constructive and destructive elements, and sociologist Steven Gelber argues for just this form of bi-​polar position. Hobbies, he opines, combine critical and affirmative elements in a single category: “One of the great strengths of mass culture is its remarkable 95

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ability to respond to popular disaffectation in ways that acknowledge the discomfit while diffusing it.”15 This process, Gelber persuasively contends, is a form of disguised affirmation.16 In this sense, hobbies act as both resistance and accommodation, in line with the mass culture of destruction.17 Making small-​scale models of frightening war machines such as nuclear submarines may be seen as a way of domesticating the menace, but it is also a frightening pursuit that both denudes and confirms its menace. The paradox of the postwar era was the linking of the cosmic and the brutal. Model warplanes, submarines and satellites were not neutral forms. Technology was both a source of amazement and fear as the public learned more about nuclear fallout while marveling at the extraordinary advances of the space age. Grasping or domesticating technology, which in itself intimidated, eluded and marginalized most of the population, became a ubiquitous pursuit. As technology advanced so rapidly in the interwar and war years, trying one’s hand at creating a miniature of one of these new machines was a tempting proposition for many varied and even conflicting reasons. Social anthropologist Alfred Gell coined the phrases “technology of enchantment” and the “enchantment of technology” to understand how we respond to complex technology. He uses as a paradigm his own amazement at a matchstick rendition of Salisbury cathedral that he saw as a young boy in 1956.18 He described the model: About two feet high and apparently complete in every detail, made entirely out of matchsticks glued together; certainly a virtuoso example of the matchstick modeler’s art, if no great masterpiece according to the criteria of the salon, and calculated to strike a profound chord in the heart of an eleven-​year-​ old. Matchsticks and glue are very important constituents of the world of every self-​respecting boy of that age, and the idea of assembling these materials into such an impressive construction provoked feelings of the deepest awe. … Here the technology of enchantment and the enchantment of technology come together. The matchstick model, functioning essentially as an advertisement, is part of the technology of enchantment, but it achieves its effect via the enchantment cast by its technical means, the manner of its coming into being, or rather, the idea which one forms of its coming into being …19

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Gell concludes that he did not wish to purchase the model or, of course, the cathedral itself. But that their power resides in the “objects as such,” or “the symbolic processes they provoke in the beholder,” which transcend issues of ownership. He attributes the intensity of desire to the resistance they afford, “to being possessed in an intellectual rather than a material sense.” Since their technical process transcends his understanding, he is forced to construe it as magical.20 Gell here articulates meaningfully the interplay between the lure of technology and the desire to possess it intellectually. One could place plastic kits in this exchange, as the maker knows that the model only hints at the difficulty of acquiring technological prowess and thereby makes the attempt and the object more alluring. These ideas were at work in the postwar era as the kits became both more accurate (particularly when they were in plastic) and concomitantly easier to assemble. The true complexity of the technology still enchants but eludes the modeler while the ease of assembly in these kits beckons him and plays on his desire to possess its powers. The kits both satisfy and whet the appetite. The resistance to and resulting enchantment of the actual machines remain steady, but making one of the more apprehensible models allows a modicum of satisfaction. These words hint at the problematics of trying one’s hand at these new realistic plastic machines in an age marked by the dread and wonderment of science. The project becomes ever more loaded when one plays with and miniaturizes fearsome technology.

Model Making The new prepackaged, mass-​produced kits arrived replete with precut components waiting to be assembled. Earlier traditional models had entailed highly skilled craft labor. Prewar airplane kits came with complicated directions, and makers had to cut and adhere the pieces together and with great dexterity cover the frames with a variety of stiff and delicate papers. A glance at Paul Guillow’s 1944 guide, with its intricate plans, makes clear the challenge of building with balsa wood, cellophane and tissue paper.21 These models were widespread in the forties, judging from the hundreds of clubs across America listed in model magazines,22 but the modelers had a high level of facility. 97

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Model making reached new levels of popularity and accessibility in the fifties with the advertising and sale of prepackaged items. Postwar airplane kits could be complicated “stick and tissue” ones, like their predecessors, utilizing balsa wood, or simpler fliers that were quickly fit together and were propelled by rubber bands. In 1953 Guillow’s model airplane company introduced a mass-produced balsa wood glider made on a high-​speed packaging machine, which became a huge marketing success.23 These toy planes were lightweight and made specifically to be flown. A young boy soaring and crashing gliders was a ubiquitous sight in the fifties. Soon the same boys would make and gleefully crash plastic ones, too, as a destructive act of play. Plastic model kits revolutionized the industry. When Revell first offered them in 1951 they were an instant success. Purchased by adults as well as youths, they became a favorite hobby.24 They offered the mass appeal of making something with one’s own hands, but quickly and easily, requiring minimal skill. Light weight and relatively inexpensive by the late fifties, they sported the kind of realistic details that were now possible with injection molded plastic. (This phenomenon recalls 1918, when the invention of sheet metal stamping machines allowed for the mass production of tin toys.)25 Plastics afforded the combination of accuracy, relatively simple assembly, and low price that made the models appealing and allowed more of the general public to enter the hobbyist market. By the early sixties Revell had become international, with branches in Great Britain, West Germany and Japan and over 20 percent of the company’s profits earned abroad.26 And certainly Revell’s ubiquitous American flag logo, comprising red and white stripes abutting a blue rectangle (designed in 1952), helped foster U.S. hegemony internationally in the postwar era. Revell did not, however, monopolize the market. Other important manufacturers such as Aurora Plastics Corporation launched their own lines of model kits to comparable success. Competing companies also surfaced abroad, including Airfix, a UK manufacturer whose highly profitable sets also date to the mid-​fifties. Of the many types of models, military ones were the most popular. Revell’s biggest seller in l954 was a rendition of the Battleship Missouri, the ship on which the Japanese had signed the surrender papers formally ending WWII. This practice had its own history during WWII when models were used in the war effort. Perhaps the most dramatic and best-​known 98

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examples were the enormous replicas made by Norman Bel Geddes to recreate actual ongoing land and sea battles. Photographs of the works in progress were printed in various issues of Life magazine during 1942 and 1943.27 Prior to these articles, in November of 1941, the month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Popular Science featured a huge naval display by Bel Geddes consisting of 1,700 intricately fabricated brass vessels displayed on a twenty square foot table of cement.28 Bel Geddes’s models were staggering and no doubt off-​putting in their technical prowess, but during the war thousands of American youths were enlisted to build wooden replicas of planes flown by American, German and Japanese pilots to be used for identification purposes in U.S. military training.29 Some plastic ones were also made at the time, but not from kits. Hence from the early forties, a generation of young men grew up making military models that became increasingly easy to assemble and then ever more desirable. (A flea market vendor who recently sold me a vintage Revell kit recalled racing to Woolworths to buy a model of the Apollo shortly after its historic landing on the moon.) Roland Barthes, writing in the mid-​fifties, had a dislike for the realistic plastic toys of the era, which he felt stifled the imagination and inducted the youth into bourgeois ideology. “French toys always mean something,” Barthes argues, “and this something is always entirely socialized, constituted by the myths or techniques of modern adult life:  the Army, Broadcasting, the Post Office….”30 These realistic plastic models, according to Barthes’s logic, introduced youths into the culture of the military in the Cold War era or stoked the smoldering war memories of their fathers. To comprehend the ideological underpinnings of models one only need glance at the smiling faces of Walt Disney and former Nazi rocket engineer Wernher von Braun in 1954, happily advertising their collaboration.31 Miniature plane in hand they stand in front of the V-​2 Rocket, which had functioned as a guided ballistic weapon in WWII and was being repurposed for space exploration. A key feature of the new plastic model kits was the inclusion of convincing elements made of injection-​molded thermoplastics. The early designers took pride in their accuracy of detail,32 as was the case with board games. According to a 1956 article in Business Week, Revell went to the armed services for blueprints, specifications and photographs, and to design engineers for their aviation line.33 And it was accuracy that Barthes 99

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Figure 3-​1  Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun, 1 January 1954. Great Images in NASA (Wikimedia Commons).

argued contributed to a form of indoctrination. In the Cold War espionage era it could also enrage the censors. A Revell kit of the Polaris nuclear submarine, for example, was removed from store shelves by the government when they realized that the Soviets allegedly had learned military secrets from the accuracy of its details. A New York Times article dated 18 June 1961, with an illustration of Revell’s USS Abraham Lincoln submarine model, quotes Hyman G. Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” saying, “If I were a Russian, I would be most grateful to the United States for its generosity in supplying such information for $2.98…. A good ship designer… can spend one hour on that model and tell he has millions of dollars worth of free information.” He cited the size of the reactor compartment and the number of crew members needed to operate the vessel as pertinent information. “ ‘I certainly would like to have similar information on their submarines,’ the Admiral said.”34 The U.S. government confiscated the models, fed by Cold War fears that they would, in fact, be used as assembly kits for future Soviet enemy vessels. 100

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Figure 3-​2  Revell model, Abraham Lincoln Submarine, property of Revell Inc., used with permission.

Similar forms of government censorship plagued the advertising industry when their fictionalized machines threatened to disclose covert operations. Richard M. Bissell, Jr., the combatant whose brilliant strategy in “playing Red” was classified, took exception to June 1958 articles in Popular Science and Aviation Week for describing a seeing-​eye satellite that mimicked top secret plans for surveillance technology.35 The next year pulp aviation artist Frank Tinsley enraged the Department of Defense (DOD) with his fantastical Atomic Pulse Rocket for edging too close to military designs. For a brief period the DOD advocated censoring all aerospace industry advertisements, an action which was thwarted.36 These incidents make clear that entrenched Cold War paranoia had not abated, and that the accuracy of items that circulated in the ephemeral visual culture could exacerbate these concerns. Furthermore, they also indicate the deep-​ rooted interconnections between the military, the civil-​scientific, the commercial and the ephemeral visual cultures. Companies such as Revell, one might add, encouraged these connections.37 As Rothberg asserts in relation to traumatic realism, “media, technologies, and economics always frame acts of representation –​that they are always lurking behind artists and their subjects, like the smiling Mickey Mouse face in Spiegelman’s drawing.”38

Models, Science Fiction and Advertising The slippage between actual aircrafts, models, toys and fantastic vehicles had a long history in the pre- and postwar years. Pulp aviation artists often 101

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made replicas of authentic planes before designing their amazing ones.39 These models were circulated in the mass culture through comics, pulp fiction and toys. In the thirties, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers spaceships, for example, were sold to children in toy or template form.40 As pulp fiction sci-​fi artist Frank Paul told an interviewer, “One of the things I enjoy about the yarns I illustrated is the ingenious way they go from fact to frightfulness without a struggle….”41 The conflation between the imagined and the real was brought shockingly home in the panicked reaction to Orson Welles’s notorious 1938 radio version of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds and more so after Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the postwar era witnessed an explosion of science fiction literature, films and trinkets. Post-​apocalyptic topics responding to nuclear anxiety formed the subject of nearly a thousand films from 1945 to the present, with l958 representing a peak year for bomb films.42 Rebel Without a Cause, as discussed earlier, responded to the same nuclear anxiety with a chicken race –​ wryly called “autogeddon” by film historian, Mick Broderick.43 Nuclear fear and the Cold War space race were uncomfortable bedfellows. After the launch of Sputnik in October 1957, space toys abounded, featuring items such as Norton-​Honer’s interplanetary zinc metal strato-​ gun and Banner Plastics’s space helmets.44 Comparable toys were ubiquitous internationally, particularly on playgrounds, transforming play spaces into launch sites. A 1959 Sputnik cum/​climbing structure was installed in a park in Prague and a rocket launch jungle gym in Coney Island, New York.45 The remains of numerous such structures in the Soviet Union prompted cultural historian Svetlana Boym to reminisce: When I returned to Leningrad-​St. Petersburg, I found myself wandering around the miniature rockets rusting in the children’s playgrounds. Crash-​landed here three decades ago, they reminded me of the dreams of my early childhood…. The playground rockets were made in the euphoric era of Soviet space exploration, when the future seemed unusually bright and the march of progress triumphant.46

Atomic toys were just as widespread. Before the famous chicken run sequence in Rebel Without a Cause, one character shoots his atomic ray-​ gun rifle, a coveted item that allowed postwar youth to play with atomic energy –​as Disney hoped their parents would by purchasing nuclear powered vacuum cleaners. Just as prospectors were encouraged to search 102

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for uranium, children played with miniature uranium hauler trucks and comparable board games.47 Nuclear toys were generally touted as harmless, such as the fifties cap shooting, “Giant Atomic Bomb” or the atomic bomb ring, a Kix cereal box give-​away dating to the late forties. But some of these “safe” playthings actually included radioactive materials –​notably A.C. Gilbert’s 1950 U-​238 Atomic Energy Lab. Gilbert, the inventor of the prized erector set, recalls collaborating unofficially with the government on the Lab set as an effort to raise public awareness of the constructive side of atomic energy, saying, “We had great help from some of the country’s best nuclear physicists and worked closely with M.I.T. in its development.”48 The Lab came replete with a Geiger counter, cloud chamber, a spinthariscope and an electroscope. Gilbert, in his memoir, described the sensation the toy caused at a fair but ceded that its high price and relative difficulty caused its downfall.49 Nonetheless, from board games, to guns, to toy rings, to lab experiments, children were encouraged to play with atomic destruction. And the term atomic became a shifting signifier for space, war or the new.

Figure 3-​3  Toy atomic bomb set in box, Royal Toy Manufacturing Company, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 1950s (Wikimedia Commons).

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Figure 3-​ 4 Advertisement for A.C. Gilbert, U-​ 238 Atomic Energy lab, 1950 (Wikimedia Commons).

With the possibility of actual interplanetary travel, the connections between the real and the imagined inched closer, leading to the kind of censorship witnessed in the Polaris episode and in the advertisements as previously described. Profits from what were still imaginary but somewhat more feasible enterprises, such as transit between satellites or stations, were coveted by various corporations who called in artists such as Tinsley to design fantastic vehicles that bordered on the real. Tinsley had produced beautiful drawings of airplanes for pulp fiction magazines such as Air Trails and Bill Barnes, Air Adventurer,50 but in the fifties his renderings became more surrealistic and fantastical, like the Cosmic Butterfly he designed to transport a new class of space tourists. This nuclear powered rocket ship, 104

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which would take off and land on the surface of the moon, was advertised: “To supply the Moon colonists, and to carry their production back to earth.”51 (A decade later, as discussed earlier, Buckminster Fuller would capture the public imagination with his catchy “spaceship earth.”) Were these vehicles real or imaginary, or did they slip somewhere in between? Were they templates in some form for model toys or actual machines ready to be marketed? Were they games or spoilsports that troubled the game with realism? This incendiary borderland was the home of much ephemeral visual culture of the day as it toyed with destruction in the playground of Cold War competition. If military games became too “real,” as in the incident of “playing Red,” cited previously, the results were classified; if fantastical machines featured in advertisements resembled top-​secret designs, they were banned; and if models sidled up to the truth, they were confiscated. These ephemeral products slipped out of that very subversive and ambiguous space between destruction and construction that was protected by the space of play and moved toward one side over the other. Yet pushing the envelope on realism was desired, hence the importance of the verism of these models to their popularity. The Polaris submarine incident reminds us that Cold War fears endured and that McCarthyism was a recent memory, but the issue of too much accuracy raises concerns voiced by Mori in “the uncanny valley.”52 Unlike Freud’s uncanny, which engages trauma and the return of the repressed, Mori’s addresses the confrontation with the actual, an issue that is endemic to robotics. Mori posits that people become uncomfortable with too much realism and experience a sense of revulsion. He applied this concept to robots, but I believe it can be relevant here too. As the Cold War researchers learned, humans have trouble pushing the button on a nuclear bomb even in a game. In this regard, models that were too real could be horrifying. Postwar computer games did not feature detonating the atomic bomb itself, as that crossed the line. It makes sense that the most coveted Revell model memorialized the armistice and not the nuclear explosion. Replicas of nuclear submarines came perhaps closest to the fear, but they were distanced by an element of cool beauty. An example of W.B. Yeats’s “terrible beauty” is how design historians have characterized its foreboding design.53 The USS Skipjack was a nuclear sub, for example, that was built to resemble a dolphin and was launched in l958. Both beautiful and 105

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threatening, atomic subs raised the bar on nuclear fear. Like the photos of the awe inspiring mushroom cloud, the sleek plastic model skirted the valley of the uncanny, but its graphic details inched it closer and led to its removal. Was it too accurate, too beautiful and too real? Did it reveal Cold War secrets or create a level of revulsion that was too much for some to bear? The ultimate proof of model making’s oscillating position between fiction and reality occurred in the atomic testing itself in Nevada. In 1953, two homes, replete with mannequin families, were placed a half mile and a mile and a half from a test site to determine the parameters of destruction in the wake of a blast: the first was decimated and the other remained standing.54 The mannequins, as we see in ­Figures 3-​5 and 3-​6, from what was called Operation Doorstop, were placed in colonial-​style homes with fully recognizable fifties interiors. Thus, at the height of the hobbyist craze, the government made a scaled size model of a home and its inhabitants and blew it up. The confluence of realism and play that was at work in the war games holds sway here. When the government played the games they were to be “real,” with accurately scaled models. But here too they stopped short, remaining in the safe space of fiction by employing clearly artificial looking figures. They played with fear through the factual but not with the revulsion of the uncanny valley. In the ephemeral visual culture, existing on that much-​touted border of art and life, around which artists and musicians circled the wagons, meant existing on the border between the real and the artificial, the real and the simulated, the real and the uncanny valley. For a productive iconoclash to happen, one needed to operate between the real and the unreal. In this space, the game is not ruined and one is allowed to play. Television exploited a comparable dynamic. The postwar public watched avidly and held a marked faith in the accuracy of the media, until its confidence was at least partially derailed by a series of high-​profile quiz show scandals in the late fifties. David Joselit has subtly analyzed this dynamic in the television culture of the era. A successful politician, he argues, had to present a fictionalized persona while at the same time convincing an audience of its believability in a “figure-​ground” relationship where the real figure lurks behind the constructed one.55 Television couples, too, such as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, exploited their positions as both non-fictional and 106

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Figure 3-​5 Operation Doorstep mannequins after test, Nevada, 1953. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain).

Figure 3-​6 Operation Doorstep mannequins before test, Nevada, 1953. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain).

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fictionalized characters. Joselit’s discussion of the televisual helps to explicate the complicated subjectivity that attended games, model making and other forms of ephemeral visual culture that toyed with destruction –​how it could be real and fabricated at the same time and how the public was deeply familiar with this dynamic.

War Figurines –​Dolls and Action Figures Playing with the real was intensified by the use of plastics and new synthetic materials in playthings. Barthes castigated their literalness, citing dolls that urinate as an example of a toy that programs girls “naturally” into ideological gender roles.56 Models were more accurate and flesh more lifelike in the postwar plastic toys. The synthetics of the era made all-​too-​real toys just as computers would make all-​too-​real simulations in games –​the same that generals saw on their screens. Barbie, designed in 1959 by Ruth Handler for Mattel and made of vinyl, was the most successful doll of its kind. She was real enough for play yet artificial enough to avoid revulsion. Handler apparently was inspired by an adult doll she saw in Germany and modeled Barbie on this prototype. Perhaps she understood the marketing power of plastic figures, as Maury Wolf and David Vine had perfected a fiberglass figure in 1950 that became an effective marketing device that changed mannequin design.57 The well-​known controversy surrounding the launching of Barbie had to do with issues of anatomical accuracy, which were satisfied by removing the doll’s nipples. The more residual critique of the doll has surrounded her impossible proportions and effect on gender stereotyping and subjectivity. Barbie’s representational features call forth postwar controversies but at the same time tap into a long-standing debate around realism in relation to sculpture, wax museums, mechanical dolls and mannequins –​all of which flirt to different extents with the valley of the uncanny. For our purposes here, the debate began with Degas’s Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, 1881, a sculpture made in wax with authentic hair and clothing, produced at the time of the opening of Paris’s wax museum, the Musée Grévin. The Little Dancer pitted sculpture against these life-like figures.58 Close too were the wax dolls, fantastic automata and coveted mechanical dolls that walked and cried, designed by Jules Nicholas Steiner, which easily trumped the wax dolls with hand tinted skin and real hair that 108

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were the rage in France and England in the mid-​nineteenth century.59 As dolls teetered between verism and imitation, they oscillated between figural sculpture and mannequins, between the realistic (which incurred the ire of writers such as Baudelaire and Rilke) and the commercial. And for Freud, in his 1919 essay, “The Uncanny,” wax figures, automatons and dolls are the quintessential site of the uncanny, an idea that informs our reading of the ubiquitous doll and mannequin in Surrealism. Freud’s uncanny, as theorized by Hal Foster and others, relates to trauma, and involves the capacity of outmoded objects to reawaken repressed memories of a personal or historical nature.60 The widespread use of synthetics in toys and in sculpture in the postwar era raises these questions anew. Mori reframes Freud’s notion of the uncanny fifty years later to discuss the emerging field of robotics, but his ideas on the uncanny valley apply to synthetic toys as well. The pleasure one experiences at the accuracy of a doll can change, with heightened realism, into revulsion. Mori’s reasons for this are tersely stated as he writes from the vantage point of a robotics professor rather than from that of a psychoanalyst, but what he says is illuminating. He asks:  “Why were we equipped with this eerie sensation? Is it essential for human beings? I have not yet considered these questions deeply, but I have no doubt it is an integral part of our instinct for self-​preservation.” He goes on to clarify in a note:  “The sense of eeriness is probably a form of instinct that protects us from proximal, rather than distal, sources of danger. Proximal sources of danger are corpses, members of different species, and other entities we can closely approach. Distal sources of danger include windstorms and floods.”61 The uncanny for both Mori and Freud can be related to trauma but Mori’s conclusions are pragmatic. In robotics he cautions designers to capitalize on the pleasure of identification and avoid the valley of the uncanny, an idea which wittingly or unwittingly, most designers followed. With new synthetics, toys in the postwar era were increasingly real but stopped short on the edge of revulsion. Artists too experimented in this arena. In the late sixties Duane Hanson, for example, used fiberglass to make sculptures (including a 1967 motorcycle collision) that were controversial in their hyperreality. Hal Foster, in fact, cites Hanson as a forerunner to an art that pushes illusionism to the point of the real as a means to uncover in it uncanny things.62 And of 109

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course Ballard has much to offer in the way of the transgressive humor of such simulations, writing in The Atrocity Exhibition:  “Incidentally, a touring version of Kienholz’s ‘Dodge 38’ was seen traveling at speed on a motorway yesterday, a wrecked white car with the plastic dummies of a World War III pilot and a girl with facial burns making love among a refuse of bubblegum war cards and oral contraceptive wallets.”63 He adds in a 1990 note that George Segal’s figures have the remarkable poignancy of a future Pompeii.64 Tinguely’s quip to Saint Phalle when he found a dismembered doll in the junkyards –​“Niki, look, it’s the end of the world,”65 –​ was predicated on this tradition. Barbie’s triumph encouraged Mattel to make a male counterpart, Ken, which premiered in l961 but failed to catch on with a large public.66 Not surprisingly, however, given the history traced here regarding the residual effects of war and destruction on the populace, when the military GI Joe was marketed three years later, it was a great success –​the action figure was born. Children (boys and girls, if they so choose) could now engage in ephemeral games of destruction aided by a population of synthetic soldiers with moving parts. GI Joe figures follow in the lineage of historic toy soldiers but now evinced the significantly higher level of realism that plastics provided and that the populace craved. In some sense these plastic toys, circulated through mass marketing, furthered the long-​standing hobby of playing with toy soldiers associated with Wells and others, as good scale lead soldiers had become available in the 1890s.67 But, in fact, the postwar era witnessed an explosion of toy soldiers fostered by the availability of inexpensive plastic figures. Donald Featherstone, the British WWII veteran and author of a catalytic 1962 book on war games, is credited with spearheading this revival. In the foreword to a recent reprinting of the book, Paddy Griffith, the British military historian, ruminates on the year of its publication in language that is germane here. He contrasts Wells’s writing on the eve of WWI as a last hurrah to a bygone society with the very different mindset of 1962, when Britain ended the draft, and concomitantly the world lived in fear of the bomb, a terror made palpable by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Individual responsibility shifted to “the thumbs of just a couple of button-​pushers.”68 War had been in some sense manageable before WWI, Griffith muses, or at 110

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least there was a semblance of individual agency, and now it was out of one’s control, and soon to become distant –​10,000 miles away in Saigon –​and yet somehow ever-​present in the guise of atomic fear. Griffith captured exactly the kind of paradox I find omnipresent at this moment in history. “Featherstone’s timing was exquisite,” Griffith contends. “At the precise moment when it became legitimate to regard war as an irrelevant game, he provided a detailed manual on exactly how that game should be played on the tabletop. Still more fortunately, his book coincided with the ‘Airfix Revolution’, whereby a few expensive 54 mm lead soldiers could be replaced by whole battalions of cheap little plastic 25 mm (or 20 mm if you insist) chappies who were entirely within the fundamental means of any schoolboy.”69

Griffith’s assessment points to the complexity of the historic moment and the role that these lifelike plastic figurines played in reenacting trauma, or conflating memory with play. One must remember that bags of plastic soldiers were ubiquitous among baby boomers’ toy collections,70 as were sets that were marketed with eye-​catching (and now collectible) box art. Griffith’s words are particularly revealing as they highlight the shift that occurred from the individual to the masses, the way toys allowed for personal engagement at this moment of disenfranchisement. The toys occupy that ambivalent space –​facilitating play by the populace just when the individual, or rank and file soldier, has lost control of his destiny. They allowed for an empowerment of the masses through play when certain military or political figures controlled their lives more than ever before. The dropping of the bombs in Japan and the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis brought this reality home –​and with television, literally into the home. Mass-​marketed figurines charted a path for individual play in the arena of the anonymous and horrific killing that had marked WWII and hovered over humanity in its fear of the bomb. These plastic soldiers also democratized military play. Affordable to virtually all, they allowed for a fluidity of class through the conduit of imaginative play, a factor that did not escape Featherstone, who wrote in 1962: “This is an age of ‘Do-​It-​Yourself ’ in which every man, aided by kits, mechanical devices and reams of instructions, attempts personally to carry out technical tasks usually performed by experts.” All people can be generals and valiantly command troops, he concludes. Enjoyable games can be played without widows, orphans or nuclear bombs.71 111

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Figure 3-​7  Airfix plastic soldiers, first edition brown box, 1968–​69.

Griffith touches on broader issues. The problematic of the individual pitted against the masses remains a key theme in postwar studies as authors have struggled to understand the significance of Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism in the age of mass culture and Pop Art. We see comparable dynamics played out in popular culture here as the individual trumps conformity through play. Role-​playing amounts to a form of empowerment where the worker can play the king. H.G. Wells recognized this earlier, beginning his book with the comment, “ ‘Little Wars’ is the game of kings –​for players of an inferior status.”72 What I am arguing is that these readily available toys had the rich significance endemic to ephemeral rites of destruction. While they represented the cheap commerciality of mass-​marketed plastics, they emulated the mass murders of WWII and allowed for play as a mode of empowerment in the face of Armageddon –​or conversely, the opposite. For as Griffith so cogently explains, just as the populace at large is disempowered by the anonymity and mass death attending nuclear warfare, they feel compelled to play with multiples of small plastic soldiers. 112

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Postwar ephemeral hobbies allowed for participation in a form of political theater and role-​play that mimicked the slippages of identity prevalent at the time. From civil rights to the red power movement in the United States, entrenched notions of identity were in flux and hobbies could provide the battlefield. Featherstone’s miniatures encouraged not only playing with the new plastic soldiers, but also reenacting past periods as these Airfix figures were easily convertible into any type of soldier.73 Also due to the low cost of production, plastic infantry of all sorts were available –​U.S. Confederate and Union soldiers, cowboys and Indians, German and American WWI and WWII soldiers, wagons, Sherman tanks, etc. Such a plethora of figures, one historian argues, led to a craze for historical reenactments.74 Although Civil War reenactments can be traced at least as far back as 1913 in the United States, where 50,000 people participated at Gettysburg,75 they appear to have been popular in the postwar era (fifties or sixties depending on the source) and developed in part out of a hobbyist mentality. We know from contemporary reenactments, such as Jeremy Deller’s 2001 performance, The Battle of Orgreave, how this kind of play can use memory to both fuel and air current unrest.76 Postwar hobbies functioned likewise. In the United States, for example, at a moment when the situation for the Native Americans was dire and the reservations were being terminated, white Americans developed a love for donning headdresses and “playing Indian.” Plastic toys of forts and frontier towns abounded at this time, facilitating such play, with the rise of prime time television westerns in the late fifties fueling the enthusiasm. In the postwar decades, during the period of termination, the notion of identity became increasingly unstable. Relocation helped to create inter-​Indian communities in urban centers that held powwows on the weekends open also to white hobbyists.77 The Native Americans who sang at the powwow changed clothes to work at the factory alongside the whites who changed clothes on the weekend to play Indian. In alternate venues, men of disparate social classes arranged hordes of small figurines to reenact battles of the past, shifting their role from the anonymous GI Joe to the general and back again. And RAND analysts, we must remember, understood the continuity between their official war games and the culture at large playing its ubiquitous games of “cowboys and Indians.” Demolition derbies 113

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remained under RAND’s radar but functioned as a comparable political military theater, distinguished, however, by their antiproductive antics and carnivalesque inversions of power structures. Military figurines, as do other war toys discussed here, align with a long tradition, but what changes, to reiterate, is the mass availability of the items and the realism that the new materials afford. GI Joe figures, designed with flexible joints, were marketed with different clothing and accoutrements. Airfix plastic soldiers flooded the market, and they too had various accessories (following the automobile industry’s marketing model). These synthetic toys joined the vast array of war models and board games to facilitate play as an iconoclashtic rite of destruction in the postwar ephemeral visual culture. These figures were to lead toy soldiers what Tactics was to chess. Abstract enough for fiction and real enough for fantasy play, and like the Revell kits and board games, they fit the bill for playing with destruction. Rothberg describes a tension that is relevant here in the move from soldier to war figurine –​a tension between documentation, self-​reflexive aesthetic form and public circulation –​between mouse, Maus and Mickey Mouse.78 All pertain to traumatic realism. And when the accuracy became too real –​too revolting –​a toy was removed from the shelf, as with Aurora’s 1964 guillotine (reminiscent of the dissolution of EC Comics and the advent of the Comic’s Code in the mid-​fifties). The postwar era witnessed the rise of a computer culture, which increasingly became the arena of choice for simulated violence –​not only for the military but in the mass culture as the technology became more accessible. Interactive shooting games began to grow in popularity. A mainstay of arcade culture, toy rifles were used to shoot figures several feet from the player. During WWII the targets shifted from anodyne forms such as chickens to images of Japanese soldiers.79 Beginning in the 1930s, visitors could interact with pinball machines, but in the late 1950s a change occurred. While the early machines were mechanical, at this later date, as television sets became ubiquitous, electromagnetic models appeared. Mechanical elements were replaced by blips on the screen. The blips could represent anything, from flying saucers to shooting soldiers. Before long interactive “shooter” war games were developed, like the popular SpaceWar of 1961.80 The ultimate success of such inventions by now is history, as countless people spend hours engaged with this interactive technology; but this does not 114

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Figure 3-​8  SpaceWar, 1961, courtesy MIT Museum.

obscure the significance of the advent of real time computer gaming. It, like the derby and the plastic models, allowed for rites of destruction to be played out in the ephemeral visual culture. Although much of this play was a male pursuit, engagement with hobbies is not de facto gender specific. Both women and men adopted painting as a hobby –​even President Eisenhower, was a fan.81 And since women took up tools during the war for home maintenance and many worked in factories, there was some attempt to market comparable crafts to them after the war.82 Judging from hobby magazines, some women also made model airplanes and joined competitions, but in segregated girls-​only divisions.83 Nonetheless, given the rather set gender divisions endemic to the fifties, various hobbies were thus marketed accordingly. Plastic models were for boys and their fathers, and toys of destruction were gendered male. Advertisements for toys associated with the military, aimed at boys, were ubiquitous. A September 1944 Modern Plastics advertisement, for instance, pairs a boy with a model train and a soldier with a gun. A 1956 115

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article for Business Week, “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” labels the father/​son bonding in model making a “do it together” rather than a “do it yourself ” endeavor. “Small boys may be captivated, but they are quite likely to get dad interested too,” Glaser offers. And mothers, he adds, approve.84 Male coding aside, one must remember that in the home a sister could make them as well –​as was the case with Lee Bontecou. The division of craft and art was a fraught one at the time. Minimalist Carl Andre, for example, claimed his art derived from working-​class crafts of bricklaying, stonemasonry and tilesetting. And while Andre used industrially manufactured elements, he did work with his hands (and the hands of his installers).85 Although he often referred to his own working class background, he was, nevertheless, a teenager in the do-​it-​yourself fifties, when fathers retired to their basement shops to work with wood. He lived in an era with a marked and resonant division –​white collar workers worked with their hands as leisure. As Bryan-​Wilson and others have argued, the confluence of issues of leisure, work, labor, art, hobbies, craft and gender is indeed a fraught one in the postwar era. For the men the dialectic was between craft and industrial production, hence they crafted models of trains or machines of destruction. For women at the time, the dialectic was between craft/​ hobby and domestic work. Hence both craft pursuits and dusting furniture became the subject matter of the woman’s art movement.

Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction in Art: Niki de Saint Phalle and Lee Bontecou As an artistic response to this chapter on hobbies and toys of destruction, I chose two women of the same generation (born in 1930 and 1931) who embraced male coded hobbies in the early sixties –​arcade shooter games (or sport shooting) by Niki de Saint Phalle, and model making by Lee Bontecou –​but at a moment before the feminist movement and its problematizing of gender, craft, and women’s labor. By engaging these “toys for boys” they both make covert (if unintentional) statements about gender, typical of the time. Bontecou’s practice hearkens back to WWII and its empowering of women on the home front. Her own mother had worked in an American factory during WWII wiring submarines, and Bontecou herself was adept with machinery –​taking up the welding torch in the 116

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late fifties to construct her metal structures. She strongly distanced herself from craft pursuits –​claiming that she “fastened” wire to the cloth on her metal armatures, did not sew by hand and preferred not to be written about in craft magazines.86 She did not identify with the women’s movement and criticized readings of the central holes in her work as bodily metaphors. But she actively engaged pursuits that were coded masculine in her day, from welding to gluing plastic models of airplanes and submarines and using aspects of the modeler’s craft (which she and her brother had practised at home) in her artwork.87 These groundbreaking practices had gender implications for her day. Saint Phalle too espoused a stereotypic male hobby –​that of shooting for sport (­Figures 3-​9 and 3-​10). She took up firearms and shot at her paintings until the paint bled from the canvas, works that she said directly referenced Abstract Expressionist paintings.88 In these notorious Tirs, she fired alone or encouraged participation in a carnival spirit, not unlike a fairground attendant, one critic opined –​or like playing cowboy, another offers.89 She even went to a local fairground in 1961 to borrow a long rifle.90 Of her twelve shootings from 1961 to 1963, several included other artists, and at times the public was invited to take up arms and fire. In these shootings, like Bontecou, she broke with clear gender divisions of the day, playing with the toys marketed to boys and distributed to them as grown-​up soldiers. Saint Phalle in the course of her career clearly took up feminist tactics, but at this time, also like Bontecou, she exhibited some ambivalence.91 (Gender issues of the early sixties, before the identity politics of the seventies feminist movement, could be slippery.) Both women, who likely knew each other as they exhibited together in group shows in New York and Paris,92 used the everyday practice of play, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to transcend or complicate questions of gender. And as the strategies they chose included male coded games of destruction, they had the “tools” to address the violent political events of the day. As Saint Phalle worded it, “I was shooting at my own violence and the VIOLENCE of the day.”93 In this way they aligned with its ubiquitous ephemeral rites of destruction by melding critique with play. Jill Carrick credits Saint Phalle with early prefeminist strategies relating to fetishism and the masquerade,94 but the ambivalence of these tactics is not just about gender; it aligns with well-​trodden practices of the day 117

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Figure 3-​9  Niki de Saint Phalle shooting at Impasse Ronsin, 26 June 1961 Shunk-​ Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender.

in their ambiguous response to violence. In Saint Phalle’s letter to Pontus Hultén responding to his query on the shooting paintings, she repeatedly addresses this dual subjectivity. She describes the shootings in terms of “DEATH and RESURRECTION”95 and as, “not only EXCITING and SEXY, but TRAGIC.”96 They were, she claims, a “macabre yet joyous ritual.”97 I demonstrated in the last chapter how artists used games to subvert the antagonistic war games of the day. Here Bontecou’s and Saint Phalle’s use of the hobby culture and the incipient gaming culture, subverts gender stereotypes. But key to my thesis, they engage these ludic practices in the ambivalent border territory of an iconoclash –​hence the quip about Saint Phalle as a fairground attendant with a carnival spirit. Typical of the early sixties, they play with destruction. In 1962 and 1963, Niki de Saint Phalle made several large assemblages on the theme of nuclear devastation, stretching 20 feet long and featuring 118

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Figure 3-​10 Niki de Saint Phalle shooting at Impasse Ronsin, 26 June 1961 Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender.

a monster that conflates King Kong with Godzilla, the radiated sea creature who starred in the eponymous 1955 film. In two of them, King Kong (1963) and Gordo in New York (1962), the beast threatening to annihilate New York City is barraged by model airplanes –​a military jet and two missiles in King Kong. Saint Phalle and Tinguely, romantic partners at the time, were seen together in David Brinkley’s 1962 feature on Tinguely’s Study for an End of the World No. 2, visiting rubbish dumps and toy stores in Las Vegas.98 Figure 3-​11 captures Tinguely posing for the camera two years earlier in a comparable junkyard. In the Brinkley show, he collects objects that are redolent with recent art historical associations –​from mannequins to toilet seats they conjure the world of Dada and the Surrealists before him. What Saint Phalle amasses for her works at this point in time are plastic toys, dolls and “nasties like rubber spiders,” as recalled by Virginia Dwan of similar hunts with Saint Phalle in Los Angeles.99 119

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Saint Phalle’s Tirs, laden with accumulations of mass-​produced kitsch items, have been placed in numerous contexts –​in part because of her mixed identity (born in France and raised in the United States). These include the interplay of the fetish object and commodity spectacle endemic to the discourse of Nouveau Réalisme,100 the impact of spectacle culture and Cold War politics on historical memory,101 and issues of gendered performance and the masquerade.102 I would add to this discourse that, in her predilection for newly made kitsch objects such as jets and military planes,103 she relates to the mass culture of destruction with its hobbies and warlike playthings. Indeed some of the toys that she selected point directly to international tensions: 1962 marked the year of Algerian independence from France, as well as the nuclear standoff in Cuba. For her Tirs, Saint Phalle pasted and glued her cache of objects to the surface of huge constructions, hid bags of paint, and proceeded to shoot at them until the paint bled down the canvas. The bright, dripping colors and childlike drawing style combined with the toys in a celebratory manner,

Figure 3-​11  Tinguely in the Junkyard, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender.

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countering along the way the sophistication of abstract expressionist brushstrokes and the discourse of authenticity that surrounded them. These Tirs recall the spring-​loaded canons H.G. Wells used in the early twentieth century to play with destruction, but her practice is much more clearly related to the fairgrounds and perhaps even to the seductive new video arcade shooting games that utilized computer screen technology. Like these games in the ephemeral visual culture, Saint Phalle played with destruction. As Cécile Whiting concludes in her excellent article on the series:  “Like a child playing war games with toy soldiers, Saint Phalle recreated the apocalyptic destruction of New York City with toy planes, miniature cars and buildings, and a caricatured Godzilla….”104 “Moreover,” Whiting asserts, “because Saint Phalle spectacularized destruction as a ludic experience, she proposed a survival plan of sorts for coping with nuclear anxiety, not through rational planning but through humorous acknowledgement of the inherent irrationality of the arms race.”105 In this way she acted in sync with many artists at just this time, the early sixties, creating an ambivalent and often humorous response to impending disaster. Saint Phalle is indeed exposing the inherent irrationality of Cold War standoffs, but she is also playing with destruction with a divided mindset indicative of the era. She described one of her Tirs, Hommage au Facteur Cheval (Homage to Postman Cheval), made in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, as targeting nuclear war.106 It was a game not unlike those played by the Pentagon during the period of tense confrontations. Masks of Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro, waiting to be shot, appear on the central left side of King Kong. Her 1962 altarpiece OAS (not a Tir), incrusted with pistols rather than planes, refers to the French-​Algerian conflict. The letters OAS in the title pun between the French words for sacred work of art and the secret right-​wing nationalist army that supported the invasion of Algeria.107 Playing with war toys in the form of ubiquitous plastic airplanes and pistols, shooting at her painting and turning devastation into an ephemeral game paralleled the everyday culture of destruction, coping with fear through play and trauma with repeated acts of violence. Saint Phalle embarks on a savvy critique through humor –​crashing planes, shooting canvasses, saving the world by the agency of play –​but in these activities she performs contradictory acts of redemption comparable to ones in the ephemeral visual culture, to the populace in their derbies, board games, GI 121

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Joes and models of destruction. What I am suggesting here is not that mass culture is a source for the artist, or a critical, or a celebratory venue, but that what occurs is a radical blending of practices; artists and the populace at large work over the same territory of fear, anger and trauma with comparable strategies of play. Saint Phalle does not invent a non a​ gonistic board game in the manner of Fahlström, but she plays in an ambivalent terrain –​somewhere between Ballard’s Eniwetok and Luna Park. As postwar assemblage artists who played with objects of destruction, Lee Bontecou, along with Saint Phalle, is another case in point. Her art was deeply affected by childhood memories of WWII, and many of her commanding works of the early sixties incorporate war debris while expressing her darker moods and antipathy to war. She has stated: “I was angry. I used to work with the United Nations program on the short-​wave radio in my studio. I used it like background music, and in a way, the anger became part of the process. During WWII we’d been too young. But at that later time [the fifties and sixties], all the feelings I’d had back then came to me again … Then I remembered the killings, the Holocaust, the political scene.”108 This often quoted remark points to the role of trauma and process in her art. Like numerous other artists of her day, she collected cast-​off articles and assembled them into large constructions, in her case embedded into welded frames. Bontecou did not frequent flea markets or tackle the excesses of the new consumer culture as did the Pop artists or Saint Phalle, she roamed Canal Street in lower Manhattan and picked up “stuff from the second world war,” maintaining that “just about the whole army,” was dumped there.109 Her canvas and steel works often incorporate Nazi helmets and gas masks, airplane turrets and other discarded military debris. When Bontecou amassed a pile of these discarded objects from Canal Street and broke them up to utilize them further, she likened it to the fun of playing on the beach.110 She was playing with destruction, producing art that was on the border between construction and demolition. Bontecou, I contend, did not engage in the cycles of production, consumption and destruction of consumer goods as did other assemblage artists like Arman.111 Her works, however, amount to a replay of this cycle in relation to war equipment, which in turn fell prey to the forces of obsolescence. She did not use gas masks repetitively nor display them in vitrines as did Arman, but her practice recycled them in a different manner. During 122

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the war and the Cold War, new and more effective weaponry replaced old armaments, which were discarded. When reclaimed they became collectibles (military swap markets eventually appeared in Europe and America) or were used as toys and, in the case of uniforms, advanced to subcultural outfits of critique and then to fashion statements. Bontecou arguably interrupted this biography of their lives, to use Kopytoff ’s words, by finding the objects and repurposing them through an artistic practice she herself likened to play. One small sculpture from 1959, assembled like a model, which she referred to as an “out-​of-​this-​world gun,” included bullets that triggered bombs carried by airplanes.112 Elyse Speaks, in a fine article on Bontecou and craft, maintains that in relation to this “gun,” whereas model making domesticates these machines, Bontecou here reinvests the model with menace.113 I agree, but would add that the activity of making these models in their own right is a far more fraught and loaded process than the word domestication suggests. As I have argued here, it engages issues of group trauma, play, and to use Gell’s words, the “technology of enchantment” and “enchantment of technology.” Hence Bontecou’s process amounts to a project closer to model making than one would likely consider for an artist whose work has such authorial power. That said, Bontecou herself clearly articulated what she saw as the difference between hobbies and art, which she felt resided in the technique. When asked what separated model making from her sculptural practice, she responded that the artist owns the design.114 She was, in this instance, specifically referring to a group of works she made in 1967 using balsa wood struts which she dipped in epoxy to harden and then covered with silk (for strength) and paper. In this group, which she called “cocoons,” she tried her hand at the model plane tradition from her youth and commented on how challenging the technique was.115 “You are forced by the material to do certain things; you can’t span it long because you will lose the curve, you are forced into making a whole construction. You have to play along with it, if you want a curve, then you need a certain number of struts,” she explained.116 Bontecou hung the forms facing each other, creating an effect that was light, airy and magical, as suggestive of nature as technology. The geometry of the struts is softened by irregularities of form and subtleties of shading. She “owned the design here,” however, unlike the 123

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packaged models. Returning to Barthes’s critique of plastic toys, their lack of imagination and potential for indoctrination, we can cast the making of models from kits (plastic or balsa wood) in this regard as a radically different endeavor from the imaginative bricolage of an assemblage artist. But both occupy the space of play, and both the artist and the hobbyist, when producing toys of destruction, might do so with mixed feelings, appreciating the beauty and fun of the toy while smashing or miniaturizing it. Bontecou, in fact, was an avid model maker. The photographer Hugo Mulas, in a series of photographs of her studio, beautifully documents the miniature airplanes hanging from the rafters, flying close to the central black holes of her works.117 She was in the habit of going to the airport to watch planes take off and land and then returning to her studio to work on both her large constructions and on small plastic models of airplanes and submarines. The two practices overlapped. Bontecou was drawn to some of the more threatening ones, such as the nuclear submarine USS Skipjack (SSN-​585). She painstakingly glued together a plastic model of the

Figure 3-​12  Skipjack model, courtesy of RavenArts.com.

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Skipjack at the same time Admiral Rickover was censoring it for revealing too many secrets to the Soviets –​a story that she has enjoyed repeating.118 She admired its design, which she found both beautiful and threatening. The sub combined the sleek silhouette of a dolphin with the gleam of technology, all the while sporting an undercurrent of dread for the postwar era. The swelling avian forms of Bontecou’s large 1964 sculpture for the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center suggest the lethal shapes of the nuclear submarines. As an example of her crossover between model-​ making and her sculptural works, for this construction she utilized a Plexiglas turret from an old WWII bomber for the larger horizontal shapes to the right and left of the main central hole. She reworked the plane’s parts with epoxy to an eggshell finish and used airplane glue to adhere the fiberglass sections to her metal frames. It could be said that she made a massive model. From the onset, it was likened to an aircraft with a Life journalist describing it, in an article titled “It’s art, but will it fly?” as “[a]‌complex flying machine that might actually get up off the ground and fly.”119 And it was not unusual for critics to compare her works to the Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon spaceships that were frequently copied in toys.120 I am not suggesting that she fell into the trap that Mary McLeod articulates when she admonishes architects for utilizing mass culture as a formal source for high art or as a justification for the excesses of capitalism.121 Bontecou does neither of these two things. The Skipjack model is neither a formal source for her art, nor does engaging with mass-​produced items necessarily signal either a lack of elitism or a critique of capitalism on her part. Bontecou has described her work of this time as divided between angry war machines and more optimistic ones –​those that capture the sublime beauty of flight.122 Although the Lincoln Center sculpture fits the latter category, it also problematizes the reductiveness of this binary. What in fact is imparted by this work? Does it rail against the futility and cruelty of war with its embedded machines of destruction rendered useless by obsolescence, or does it glorify space machines (which were themselves Cold War playthings) transformed into a fantastical ode to flight that fits comfortably and ironically in a niche of Philip Johnson’s elegant building?123 I contend that it does both these things. Her art both condemns and makes beauty of her time with a form of dual subjectivity that is endemic to the 125

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ephemeral visual culture of destruction. The notion of an iconoclash allows for a nuanced reading of the art of the era, one that avoids binaries with their arbitrary sense of right and wrong. An ambivalent reaction fits the menacing machines and magnificent satellites of the postwar era, just as the culture at large played with destruction. Bontecou recycles these war toys into forms that perhaps critique the military-industrial complex –​ they don’t fly or kill and are not mass-​produced. Yet in their double bind, hovering between critique and adulation –​between beauty and fear –​ they engage the kind of ambiguities that Latour relished and the public practised in their rites of destruction.

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4 Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space

“Creative destruction” is a term frequently applied to the housing boom and widespread urban renewal projects of the postwar era in the United States and Europe. And indeed, perhaps the most visible and impactful element of destruction in the everyday lives of city and suburban dwellers in the postwar era was the desecrated and rebuilt landscape. In Europe, cities suffered from the massive destruction of WWII bombing and firestorm campaigns, and in America from urban renewal and the spread of suburban sprawl. The difference in elements of trauma and memory notwithstanding, the considerable impact of urban destruction could be felt in the United States as well as across the Atlantic.1 Even in Germany, after the war, people chose to rebuild rather than restore the omnipresent ruins, and residents “ultimately tore down more stone than the bombs did. They could not stand to look at those fateful shells.”2 In sum, in the United States, Britain, Europe and elsewhere, the ruins of war matched those from construction in the postwar era. And indeed, as argued by Christopher Klemek, there were significant Atlantic exchanges in the new order of urban renewal.3 British historian Anthony Vidler was born during the war and, like Pete Townshend, attests to the indelible mark on his consciousness made by the endless air-​raid sirens, bomb blasts and sounds of rockets overhead. Reconstruction in many cities, from London to Dresden and Tokyo 127

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to Hiroshima, he offers, all took place between 1945 and 1950 with the aim of replacing the destruction with the hope of modernism. These responses, he felt, masked a greater apprehension: “quite simply, the anxiety about being bombed into oblivion.”4 This fear of future annihilation, he argues, not only spawned modernist reconstruction agendas but also the counter-​architectural movements of the sixties and the seventies, including Archigram and Haus-​Rucker-​Co. “Thus,” Vidler writes, “we might understand the futuristic programs of Archigram … metropolises escaping from their static sites, psychological tents and caves, prophylactic suits and tools –​as founded on the fears of little boys scared by the Blitz and designed to protect them from the greatest fear of all, that of annihilation from the air.”5 These strategies which marshalled the ephemeral into action were also progeny of the war and its devastation. Wartime photographs record the effects of the razed landscape on everyday life as stalwart Londoners planted gardens and held concerts among the ruins.6 Britain’s popular magazine Picture Post (1938–​57) never tired of featuring children playing with debris. This onslaught to the built environment with its impact on daily life merits a key place in a discussion of the ephemeral culture of demolition. Although a great deal has been written about postwar urbanism, my focus is on the ephemeral aspects of the destruction:  debates surrounding street life, ambulating neighborhoods, toys and demolition playgrounds, issues of cleanliness and detritus, among others. Ruins themselves, as we shall see, form a perfect backdrop to this discussion of ephemeral destruction. Historians enjoy gauging the scale of construction, quantifying acreage and the number of houses built and so on, all pointing to its massive scope. In New York City, for example, postwar development occurred on the heels of significant prewar projects. Max Page, in his book on the subject, The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900–​1940, purloins the term “creative destruction” from economist Joseph Schumpeter’s analysis of capitalism. Page draws our attention, rather eloquently, to the strange idea of using demolition as a strategy for reformation, asking, “How did the early-​nineteenth-​century reformer, who walked the streets, climbed the tenements, and worked slowly to provide the slums with running water and parks give way to the blunt vocabulary of the wrecking ball and bulldozers?”7 Destroying property, after all, countered hallowed nineteenth-century 128

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attitudes toward protection of individual property and the desire to limit governmental control over the private sector. Overturning this sacred ground, Page argues, is a rich story to be told. The radical practice of destruction, he concludes, did not become the cure of choice for urban ills until the 1930s. It developed out of an intricate matrix of concerns ranging from environmentalism, to profit motives, to social experiments modeled after public housing projects led by noted European architects the likes of Walter Gropius, Bruno Taut and Le Corbusier. The extent of the destruction grew commensurately in the postwar era and, not surprisingly, became embroiled in Cold War politics. As historian Samuel Zipp contends, a renewed Manhattan would signal modernization and prosperity to counter comparably outsized visions of progress touted by the Soviet Union.8 Modernization became a symbol of Cold War power. This heated rhetoric spread from the designers to the populace at large, causing arguments as to whether the “renewed” towers that dotted the cityscape were emblematic of freedom or of totalitarianism in the guise of uniformity and control. These debates echo so many others from the time in their pitting of the individual against the masses, of Pollock against Warhol, painting against mass culture, etc. The design of homes and furnishings was a comparably fraught ideological terrain as Khrushchev and Nixon famously revealed in the 1959 “Kitchen Debate” at the American International Exhibition in Moscow. The prefabricated suburban home, “Splitnik,” a centerpiece of the same exposition, opened its doors to thousands of visitors. But as Greg Castillo has eloquently argued, this spectacle was the culmination of ten years of consumption propaganda featuring didactic exhibitions of international modern design such as “We are Building a Better Life” of 1952, supported in West Germany by the Mutual Security Act (MSA), an American successor program to the Marshall Plan.9 Castillo charts a trajectory that begins with Bauhaus design in Germany in the interwar years and continues to its championship by The Museum of Modern Art in New York and its relay back to Europe by Knoll Associates as American modernism in the fifties under the rubric of international Atlanticism. The elegant simplicity of modern design, born in the Bauhaus “like a crystal symbol of a new faith,” can be housed comfortably it seems under the rubric of destruction in its cleansing of the old in favor of the 129

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new. Elizabeth Gordon, writing in 1953 in the pages of House Beautiful, decried such design –​which was championed as the height of “good taste” –​as a form of cultural totalitarianism in its threat to our freedom of choice.10 Such pared-​down form, she argues, in its asceticism, mocked the American way of life. Jane Jacobs and others at the time, as shall be discussed, expressed a somewhat comparable lament against the campaign of stark housing projects that Robert Moses favored for “cleaning up” the slums of New York City. Postwar cleansing missions, like nineteenth-century imperialist crusades to save “the great unwashed,” attacked minorities. Soap was the agent of change. As Anne McClintock opined about the marketing of prepackaged Pear’s soap in Britain: “The emergent middle-​class values –​ monogamy (‘clean’ sex, which has value), industrial capital (‘clean’ money, which has value), Christianity (‘being washed in the blood of the lamb’), class control (‘cleansing the great unwashed’) and the imperial civilizing mission (‘washing and clothing the savage’) –​could all be marvelously embodied in a single household commodity.”11 Kristin Ross similarly pits postwar France’s cleanliness campaigns against its colonialist role in Algeria, postulating: “If the French woman is dirty, then France is dirty and backward. But France can’t be dirty and backward, because that is the role played by the colonies.”12 In New York City, cleaning up slums meant destroying homes and displacing their Black and Latino inhabitants. These sanitizing crusades utilized military lingo. Torture indeed was deemed the “dirty” war, and soap companies capitalized on this imagery. A chlorinated product “kills’ the dirt” while the function of soap powder is in “keeping public order not making war,” Barthes reminds us in his well-​known mid-​fifties essay on soap in Mythologies.13 The new urban housing projects aimed to produce a city as clean as its suburban counterparts with their well-​tended lawns and successful battles against invading infestations of insects appropriately named “Japanese” beetles.14 Cities were to be cleansed of filth, crime, slums –​and people of color.15 Cleaning was inextricably tied to destruction, as creating a new utopian spotlessness meant destroying what was dirty. The degree of destruction and renewal in the United States is all the more impactful when we consider that cities were not decimated by WWII bombs but rather were seriously ravaged and reconfigured under the rubric 130

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of profit and progress. And when it came to urban renewal, the destruction became a form of “whitewashing,” as it was generally the homes of the minorities, often African Americans, which fell in the wreckage. As David Harvey wrote regarding Haussmann’s Paris and its contemporary reverberations: Surplus absorption through urban transformation has an even darker aspect. It has entailed repeated bouts of urban restructuring through ‘creative destruction,’ which nearly always has a class dimension since it is the poor, the underprivileged and those marginalized from political power that suffer first and foremost from this process. Violence is required to build the new urban world on the wreckage of the old. Haussmann tore through the old Parisian slums, using powers of expropriation in the name of civic improvement and renovation.16

Haussmann’s practice not surprisingly appealed to Robert Moses, who recuperated the vilified nineteenth-century planner in a 1942 article, written at the brink of his own creative destructive urban plan for postwar New York City. Moses took a measured tone, listing his shortcomings but feeling free to praise what he saw as his vast accomplishments.17 Moses’s vision and practice, like Haussmann’s, was then and still remains at the center of a maelstrom of controversy. The extensive destruction and rebuilding of New York City caused lively debates that continue today. The impending destruction of the city’s grand old Pennsylvania Railroad Station filled the press up until its actual demise in 1963 –​a loss that helped spawn subsequent preservation initiatives (the National Historic Preservation Act became law in 1966) and fed lucrative salvage businesses.18 But perhaps the most vitriolic controversy centered on Moses and his adversary, Jane Jacobs, seen in ­Figure 4-​1 in 1961, in her role as chair of the committee to save the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Her book from that year, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, found widespread support in the United States and in Europe, where, as Klemek argues, British and German urbanists were flexible enough to appreciate her ideas, and many of their own plans had in fact anticipated her proposals.19 The Moses versus Jacobs camps reflect a well-​trodden clash of planners versus walkers, of vertical towers and horizontal amblers. Yet recent authors such as Zipp caution against such simple binaries, as there was a 131

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great deal more fluidity between the camps.20 And Moses’s agenda, which has provided ample fodder for critique, has likewise been the subject of current reappraisals. Kenneth T. Jackson, for example, concludes that the huge twenty-​first-century turnaround of conditions in New York City, from the urban despair of the postwar era to today’s renaissance, could not have been possible without Moses’s accomplishments.21 Nonetheless, whether it was called urban development or urban renewal (the moniker of choice after 1954), after Title 1 of the 1949 New York Housing Act backed the federal government’s efforts in this regard, creative destruction was the main game in town. And it impacted the ephemeral visual culture on many levels –​the destruction of homes, a shifting of populations, debris in the streets, changes in the nature and life of the cities and even new kinds of children’s toys, playgrounds and books about

Figure 4-​1  Jane Jacobs, Chair of the Committee to Save the West Village holds up documentary evidence at a press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Streets, 1961. New York World-​Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-​ USZ-​62-​137838 (Wikimedia Commons).

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bulldozers and steam shovels. It was similar to Haussmann’s Paris where the demolition of the city had a ripple effect in the art and visual culture that could be seen in such disparate phenomena as Monet’s flight from the expanding metropolis to women veiling their faces to protect themselves from the dust –​a common trope in Impressionist paintings.22 In the United States, the destruction was not limited to Title 1 urban renewal projects, but extended to corporate initiatives, interstate highway construction and the development of vast suburban communities where trees were razed and homes erected. Major cities saw their midtown blocks lined with newly constructed glass-​curtain and glass-​box skyscrapers that embodied the Janus figure of progress and conformity central to the era. The animated opening section of the recent award winning television series Mad Men, set in 1959, expresses the anxiety latent in this uniformity as the silhouette of a dark-suited figure in free fall descends amid the gridded facades of these homogeneous and anonymous structures peppered with advertisements.23 The Mad Men sequence humorously, if unwittingly, captures some of the skirmishes over the individual and the masses of the day, just as it touches on the battles of the ephemeral versus the enduring that lay close to the center of the Moses/​Jacobs controversy. Jane Jacobs valued walking the streets and privileged the ephemeral. She regarded neighborhood formation as a self-​organizing system, one that is bottom up rather than top down. She favored a form of disorganized complexity deemed essential to the notion of emergence, where a high level pattern arises from manifold interactions of local agents.24 Emergence, as we have seen, was a leitmotif in the computer and board games of the era, such as Conway’s Life, which actually addressed issues of overcrowding and population control in the game’s description. As Alison and Peter Smithson wrote about the new modern architecture in Europe in the late fifties, key words were “cluster, growth, change and mobility”25 –​terms that resonate with Pollock’s painting practice, which in many ways epitomizes its age.26 Jacobs writes passionately: Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change.…27

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From the point of view of complexity theory, Steven Johnson explains, “The value of the exchange between strangers lies in what it does for the superorganism of the city, not in what it does for the strangers themselves. The sidewalks exist to create the ‘complex order’ of the city, not to make the citizens more well-​rounded. Sidewalks work because they permit local interactions to create global order.” For an emergent system to arise, he adds, “There has to be feedback between agents, cells that change in response to the changes in other cells.”28 By the late sixties, those who joined Jacobs in her protests returned home to play complexity games in their living rooms that, like her book, centered on issues of life, death and population control. And it can be argued that complexity destabilizes Cold War absolutes. Jacobs conveyed a vision of the city as a living organism that countered the frozen armies of uniform structures favored by Moses, although she did not concede that these spaces too would self-​organize eventually. Michel de Certeau, writing two decades later, in 1984, perceived both the sea of skyscrapers from above and the ordinary practitioners “down below,” the walkers or Wandersmanner, “whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it…. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces:  in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other.” He concludes, “A migrational, or metaphorical, city thus slips into the clear text of the planned and readable city.”29 There are clear parallels in Jacobs’s prose in her comparable privileging of the quotidian:  “Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.”30 De Certeau draws on the writings of Henri Lefebvre, who wrote consistently on the intersection of architecture, urbanism and everyday life. However, in comparing the two authors, architectural historian Mary McLeod concludes that Lefebvre’s vision of the controlling and homogenizing elements in everyday life is darker than that of de Certeau, who stressed the individual’s abilities to manipulate situations to make way for autonomous action.31 Nonetheless, both advocated for the generative nature of everyday life in the urban space. Hence, writing about Jacobs in 1974, Lefebvre praises her position, stating that, although she fails to incriminate “neocapitalism,” she forcefully demonstrates how destructive the spaces produced by capitalism could be.32 134

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The French Situationists in the fifties also favored the pedestrian experience. As Thomas McDonough maintains, the dérive, or unstructured wandering, turned the city and its cartography from a military “theater of operations” into one of drifting, privileging the pedestrian’s experience.33 Military mappings were strategies, in de Certeau’s terms, produced by institutions and power structures, but tactics such as walking were the purview of ordinary individuals in their daily lives. This form of walking counters the control of a Haussmann or a Moses. Ephemeral and random actions in the public space hence challenge a coherent or authoritarian concept of the city. The dérive also supplanted the class-​consciousness and gendered subjectivity of the nineteenth-​century flâneur. The walker replaces the voyeur. The dérive then amounts to an alternate use of space where new social relations are produced. The Situationists, never succumbing to the romance of ruins, argued for a new reappropriation of the public space that allowed for a playful-​constructive urbanism.34 As Debord described these activities: “Our rather anarchic lifestyle and even certain amusements considered dubious that have always been enjoyed among our entourage –​slipping by night into houses undergoing demolition, hitchhiking nonstop and without destination through Paris during a transportation strike in the name of adding to the confusion, wandering in subterranean catacombs forbidden to the public, etc. –​are expressions of a general sensibility which is no different from that of the dérive.”35 Debord chronicles how individuals in acts of antidiscipline attempt to subvert systems of domination, and often through the activity of play. Just as the demolition derby performed rites of antiproduction as a subversive riposte to corporate control, urban diversions can restructure disciplined spaces. Skateboarding is a case in point. Like the demolition derby, its popularity dates to the postwar era and crescendoed in the early sixties. In a 1965 Wide World of Sports program covering the championship contests, the announcer chronicles the rise and, also by 1965, fall of enthusiasm for the practice. Skateboarders surfed the urban landscape, transforming it into a site for play. As Michael Nevin Willard contends in a recent article, when performing tricks, the youths: [m]‌a ke their own meanings, critiques of power, and interpretations of urban life. When a skater ollies into a frontside tailslide down a thirteen-​ stir handrail, the genius of such tricknowlogy is that it makes the unexamined

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In newly built U.S. postwar suburban communities, with their uniform housing and regularized planning, parents mowed their lawns and pruned their hedges in deference to the imposed system, but children here, as in the city, converted the grid into places of unruly play. Dead ends became dodge ball areas, intersections baseball diamonds, open spaces skateboard parks, and hilly streets sledding courses on wintry days, attended by choruses of shouting youngsters warning of oncoming cars with rhythmic chants of “car, car, C-​A-​R.”

Adventure Playgrounds The transformation of the urban environment into recreational space often sprung up organically in a self-​generative or cyclical manner. The Empire State Building, for example, was erected in 1931 over a natural swimming hole, thereby destroying a popular bathing spot. Later, however, the building itself became a player of sorts as children across the East River in Queens took its evening lighting as a signal to end their games and return home.37 Social Realist painters and photographers in the thirties and forties never tired of depicting the imaginative games of inner city youths as they repurposed their neighborhoods. When cars filled the streets, children turned to rooftops for recreation, a custom that artist Faith Ringgold poetically captures in Tar Beach, her award winning children’s book about growing up in 1930s Harlem. After the bombings and during reconstruction, play areas appeared like weeds in the desiccated urban landscapes of postwar Europe and America, turning postwar demolition into ephemeral sites for children’s games. The Viennese artist, Franz West, remembers cavorting in the filthy streets of postwar Vienna as a Jewish child surrounded by former Nazis:  “When I grew up in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, it could only be described as a time of darkness. Many of the houses and buildings were bombed out, and as children we played in ruins rather than on the 136

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grass. There was either dirt or ruins to play in. It was more than dirty –​ filthy. But I would describe it as a time of really essential living.”38 Filmmaker Werner Herzog, who was born in 1942, records compelling memories of this time in Germany: “All of my school friends who grew up in the cities, they were delirious about speaking of this time when they grew up in ruins and there was no –​it was pure anarchy in the best sense of the word. There were no fathers around to tell them what to do and how to do things. It would be the masters and the kings of, let’s say, a whole block that was bombed out. And they would –​it was a most wonderful playground for children.”39 And finally, one cannot forget the words of J.G. Ballard recalling his teenage years incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai: “I felt more at home there than I did at 31 Amherst Avenue [his family home]. Prison, which so confines the adults, offers unlimited scope to the imagination of a teenage boy. The moment I stepped out of bed in the morning, as my mother slept in her tattered mosquito net and my father tried to brew a little tea for her, a hundred possibilities waited for me.”40 It was, in fact, the phenomenon of children’s imaginative play in ruined cities that spawned the Adventure Playground Movement with its junk aesthetic. The first such recreational space debuted in Denmark in 1943, but the idea of adventure or junk playgrounds took hold in England shortly after the war ended, finding fertile territory in its bombed cities. Figure 4-2, believed to be of the Notting Hill playground in the early sixties by photographer Donne Buck, shows children literally playing with fire. Significantly, historians identify three groundbreaking new aspects of these spaces as the sanctioning of acts of destruction, using debris as play materials, and situating them in bomb sites. These practices break with the notion that children should be protected from such scenes of devastation.41 Although these playgrounds tap into multiple and changing notions of childhood, play, social responsibility and delinquency in the postwar era, they also provide yet another stellar example of what I am arguing is the bipolar response to the war in its advocacy of playing with destruction. Furthermore, the complicated attitudes involved in such diversion and in the reclamation of ruins accords with the mixed reactions toward demolition that marks the era. The junk playground was the brainchild of Danish designer Carl Theodor Sorensen, who noted that children preferred junkyards to clean spaces –​an idea that contests elegant modernist designs by Isamu Noguchi and others. 137

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Figure 4-​2  Probably Notting Hill adventure playground, early 1960s. Copyright Donne Buck/V&A Museum, London.

Sorensen’s innovative perspective was exported to England by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who ceaselessly promoted the concept and in a 1946 article, “Why Not Use Our Bomb Sites Like This?,” she concluded that they belonged in the country’s omnipresent ruins.42 (During the war she had spearheaded a movement to make children’s toys and furniture out of the debris of the blitz.)43 These junk playgrounds, soon to be renamed adventure playgrounds, countered the kinds of postwar campaigns advocated by the likes of Moses, and in the spirit of John Dewey’s pedagogical framework, they privileged the child’s imagination over the architect’s.44 They also countered the global postwar initiatives to rapidly cleanse the land of destruction, occlude memory, and rebuild. Utilizing bomb sites as recreational areas tapped into current debates surrounding reconstruction, displaced children and rising fears of juvenile delinquency –​a topical issue in the United States as well. As the war had eroded the traditional family structure, children as victims or purveyors of a new world were often the focus of investigation.45 Play clearly became a contested area for competing notions of democracy, anarchism and fascism central to the era. Some believed that the 138

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playgrounds were designed to produce participatory democratic citizens through interactivity and to lead the child away from passive acceptance of demolition.46 Others perceived such recreation in psychological terms as a form of catharsis. There was, however, the very real fear that children were not traumatized innocents but aggressive individuals who would identify with the violence, hence the terrifying vision promulgated by William Golding in his 1954 book Lord of the Flies. Anna Freud had argued earlier in the forties for the natural aggressiveness of children. After observing how children joyfully play in bomb sites and craters, she concludes, “The real danger is not that the child, caught up all innocently in the whirlpool of war, will be shocked into illness. The danger lies in the fact that the destruction ranging in the outer world may meet the very real aggressiveness ranging in the inside of the child.”47 Wartime anxieties about human nature were often targeted to the issue of childhood play, and British psychoanalysts including Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott wrote extensively on the topic.48 The ubiquitous photographic vision of children cavorting in the ruins spawned mixed reactions. Childhood in this context could represent freedom and resistance or, alternatively, moral decrepitude and potential feral behavior.49 George Burden, writing in 1948 about one such playground located in a bombed church, weighed in on these issues and on the loaded interplay of construction and destruction endemic to the age. After warning how boredom and inactivity can lead to delinquency, he expounds on how a playground: set in a district which has suffered much during the war can lead a child away from the tolerance and approval of that destruction which is associated with war. The child of nine and ten years makes few moral judgments. He wants to do something and it is the doing which is absorbing, whether it is constructive or destructive. I believe he prefers to make and this is supported by our observations, but given nothing to make he will break. It lies in our power to assist him in choosing what is socially desirable and morally right.50

Burden lists the materials and tools made available, from old timber, iron and bricks, to trowels and spades. 139

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Lady Allen, too, hoped optimistically that adventure playgrounds could turn the ruins from breeding grounds for delinquency into places of reform. She begins her article: “Juvenile delinquency and the death of young people in road accidents both arise, in part at least, from the inadequate and unimaginative manner in which local authorities try to meet the need for creative play.”51 One controversy centered on the role of the leaders who were hired to instruct the children in the use of dangerous tools and materials on the sites. Roy Kozlovsky questions whether the adults were there to indoctrinate the youths to become worthwhile and participatory citizens of a new democracy or to passively observe forays in anarchy. The playgrounds became, in essence, a microcosm of the conflicting attitudes, not only toward play but to the acquisition of agency in society. Like the demolition derby, they became complicated sites of mixed subjectivity involving aggression, trauma, freedom and jubilation. They worked through past trauma while paving the way for the future in an open-​ended manner. Historian Ben Highmore addresses these issues through the visual culture of the era. He contends that photos of youths romping in bomb sites, favored by the popular illustrated press such as the Picture Post, formed a central motif in the social imaginary of postwar Britain. As its most important feature Highmore singles out their ability to evoke both liberal and conservative reactions –​rejuvenation scenarios meet the specter of the undisciplined hordes. The images supported both the right and the left in the guise of a new optimistic welfare state. Drawing on an aspect of Paolo Virno’s 1996 essay, “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment,” which argues for the importance of understanding the ambivalent feelings that surround social forms and forces, Highmore speculates that this postwar complicated subjectivity predated and was used to legitimate late 1970s neoliberalism (allowing for example the possibility of blaming problems on delinquency).52 Certainly we see that ambivalence, what I have called bipolar behavior or the prevalence of iconoclashes, does mark the postwar era, and in this sense can be seen as an emotional situation in Virno’s sense, which he puts at the hub of the political economy. While the conservative Reagan and Thatcher eras relate in part to the failed utopian agendas of the sixties (at least in the United States), they may just as well have grown out of or utilized as a scapegoat one side or the other of the culture of ambivalence that I have been chronicling. 140

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Of particular importance here, Highmore points to the ephemerality or transitional status of these playground ruins and considers it the key to their ability to engender diametrically opposed resolution scenarios. Photos of them conjure future nuclear wastelands or postwar rejuvenation. Once urban renewal occurs, the options close down. He ruminates in words that resonate with my entire project: “In Virno’s terms, the emotional situation surrounding the reconstruction and the image of children on bomb sites is a vacillation between optimism and pessimism, between resignation and refusal. It is a mood-​world whereby optimism is constantly struggling with its opposite.”53 Marx and Benjamin clearly haunt this analysis. Ambivalence marked the postwar period, which was itself a liminal moment between the war and the backlash of the conservative eighties –​a backlash which ambivalence may have helped to spawn. Ruins have elicited complex responses, from nostalgic, to aesthetic, to the surreal. They are ephemeral landscapes that point backwards and forward at the same time. They are in some sense the perfect temporal image for this study as it addresses manifestations of destruction at a crossroads. Ruins, in their multilayered temporality, exhibit the remains of history and call for the creation of the new –​at times literally. When caused by blasts they may expose a buried history. London’s ruins have been described as absolute doubleness:  “They are inherently both a frozen moment of destruction made permanent; as much as they capture the absolute singular moment, the repeated cliché of the stopped clock exposed, battered by blast but still affixed to a wall in a bomb site: yet they also act as a way of understanding a great swathe of linear time previously hidden or buried, offering history exposed to the air.”54 Freud, Marx and Benjamin are all theorists of destruction in their own way, but it is Benjamin who is particularly relevant here in his ruminations on ruins, destruction and the outmoded. Just as he credits André Breton with discerning the revolutionary energy in the outmoded,55 he himself saw ruins as transitory structures. Their fallen nature, he writes, “bears the imprint of the progression of history.”56 He pictures elsewhere his destructive character: “Because he sees ways everywhere, he always positions himself at crossroads. No moment can know what the next will bring. What exists he reduces to rubble, not for the sake of the rubble, but for that of the way leading through it.”57 So too the ruins –​just as urban renewal schemes 141

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hastened to obliterate them, sanitize them, wipe them out, they were meaningful as mutable and transitional sites –​suitable for the shifting historical moment this book addresses. As Highmore suggests, the ruins speak to a cultural politics that is not seeking the promise of a utopian future but one that garners positive moments from the scruffiness of history.58 The parks in America (if not the playgrounds) were not bombsites, but they did, along with avenues and piazzas, become hubs of contestation and debate, first by civil rights protesters and soon after by anti–​Vietnam War demonstrators. New York City’s Central Park, for example, was the home of egregious acts of “creative destruction” as flags and draft cards were publically burned in its fields. The festive spirit of play met destruction head-​on in demonstrations where streets were lined with photographs of burnt Vietnamese children while American youngsters played with balloons under banners exclaiming, “Children are not for burning!” A city that had seen large areas demolished and rebuilt, a culture that lived in fear of the bomb, a youth that feared and refused a new war, engaged in acts of creative destruction in the public space. Destroying flags and draft cards were clearly ephemeral acts that grew from what was at this point in time a decade-​long tradition of iconoclashes deemed appropriate to the terrors of the postwar era. No wonder the destruction side of this equation –​burning the flag, wearing ripped military regalia –​garnered the ire of the right and fed a backlash in the years to follow. Through their rebellious and, in their own way, jubilant acts of defiance –​these students from the universities who refused to join the military moved out of the fairgrounds (and sometimes into prison). The violence in the demolition derby in the early sixties, speaks more to its transitional and ambivalent moment, and in its coded language carries a particular form of agency and message, protected and empowered by play. In this sense, the demolition derby in the fairgrounds shares a kinship to junk playgrounds.

Toys and Children’s Books of Destruction In the postwar era in the United States, with its “culture of clearance,” to use the words of historian Francesca Russello Ammon whose excellent work on media images of the bulldozer informs parts of the following 142

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Figure 4-​3 Draft card burning, Central Park, New York City, 15 April 1967, screen capture from newsreel footage of Universal News, Universal City Studios (Wikimedia Commons).

section,59 writers tended to both demonize and heroize the construction worker, and above all the bulldozer. Figure 4-​4, a 1973 image by photographer Suzanne Szasz captures the machine in action. The term “bulldozer” applies to the blade in front of a tractor, but various forms of front-​end loaders and tractors, manufactured by John Deere, Caterpillar and others, were often cobbled together under this all-​encompassing term. Protestors to Moses’s projects, including Jacobs, habitually used the bulldozer as a target. Metonymically, the machine stood in for renewal, politics and racism. “Stop bulldozing” was the mantra. At the same time, as Ammon contends, the friendly bulldozer, steam shovel and construction worker formed the tropes of children’s literature. Virginia Lee Burton’s 1939 book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and Edith Thacher Hurd’s 1947 Benny the Bulldozer were bedtime stories of choice for American children for decades to come.60 Benny, the yarn tells us, faces a daunting deadline to clear a road before an upcoming patriotic 4 July celebration. He heroically finishes in time and is rewarded by cheering accolades as he leads a procession of similarly anthropomorphized earthmoving machines through town. In a broad way, bulldozer writing accorded with the triumphal Cold 143

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Figure 4-​4  Suzanne Szasz, site of small residential building recently demolished between 3rd and 2nd Avenues, New York City, November, 1973, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park 551783 (Wikimedia Commons).

War glorification of technological progress. In fact, by 1958 the National Defense Education Act supported funding books on science and technology to lower school children, and these books, like the kitchen equipment featured the famed 1959 “Kitchen Debate,” became implicated into Cold War politics after the launch of the Soviet satellite, Sputnik.61 They became loaded symbols of America’s hegemonic power. In judging the potential ideological impact of this literature, one must remember that these books were generally read aloud repeatedly to children by adults. Both the young and old could often recite them by rote. Ammon attributes the mythification of the bulldozer to a composite of factors relating to WWII and its aftermath, including a glorification of the conquest of the land, federal policies encouraging a public/​private symbiosis and technological advances improving the efficacy of the machines. And finally, she points to the cultural work of laudatory popular representations.62 This last category includes multiple articles in mass magazines and a plethora of children’s toys and books dedicated to the heroic bulldozer and its operator. For our purposes here, these ubiquitous toys, books 144

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and articles encouraged widespread ephemeral play with destruction. The Mound Metalcraft Company launched Tonka trucks in 1947, the year Benny the Bulldozer was published.63 Made of sturdy automobile-​gauge steel, the trucks became a favorite toy, with production tripling in the late fifties and spreading overseas in the early sixties.64 Children throughout the United States dug up soil and built and destroyed makeshift sand structures

Figure 4-​5  Tonka truck No. 3900, Division of Hasbro, Inc.

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with their new yellow trucks, all the while mimicking the larger than life masculine workers of their storybooks. Ammon traces the glorification of the male bulldozer to the famous Seabees, the WWII Naval Construction Battalions, whose ranks swelled to over 300,000 in number. Figure 4-​6, an advertisement for Willys’s jeeps and trucks from the forties, sings the praises of these heroic laborers while exhibiting their rippling muscles as they pose half nude circling an open cavern, reminiscent compositionally of Renaissance entombments. These men, who were trained in the care and operation of earthmovers, returned home from the war ready to work. As patriotic veterans they appeared brawny, proud and poised to man their “armies of bulldozers,” and were greeted with accolades. They, like their amiable illustrated brethren, fit the bill for the image of the virile male worker so favored by the Cold warriors in the homophobic McCarthyite era. And just as Dichter called the fifties automobile a “she,” the friendly but masculine machine operators took care of their “women.” Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel was, after all, named Mary Anne. Documentation abounds as to the valiant exploits of the Seabees. Colonel K.S. Andersson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example, wrote a 1944 homage to the bulldozer as the unnamed hero of the war, the work-​a-​day, unromantic machine that he claimed had cleared the way for the army’s advancing troops.65 The Seabees captured the popular imagination and were featured in numerous articles. Large army bases and military installations were built on land cleared by these dedicated workers. The destruction they engendered was both necessary and ruthless in terms of disregard for existing natural and built formations, and in that sense they paved the way for the postwar attitude toward destruction as the bedrock of construction. Life magazine, for example, chronicled the transformation of the small island of Guam into a military megalith.66 Such scenarios set the stage for the “all-​American” machine operators to clear the land of marginalized people. Indeed, a racially offensive 1945 Coca Cola advertisement shows Seabees (machines in tow) enlightening the clueless “natives” on the Admiralty Islands.67 In multiple ways, the war provided opportunities for demolition under a patriotic aegis to be executed courageously in dangerous surroundings. Their exploits formed the subject of an immensely popular 1944 film by 146

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Figure 4-​6  “A Jeep’s-​Eye View of the Seabees in Action,” advertisement for Willys’s Jeeps, Record of the Office of Government Reports, WWII posters 1942–​45. Credit: Government photo, National Archives (public domain).

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Edward Ludwig, The Fighting Seabees, with American actors John Wayne and Wedge Donovan in leading roles, thereby replacing the masculine icon “of the cowboy with that of the bulldozer operator.”68 Bulldozer man was to share the bill with Marlboro man and derby drivers as images of tough masculinity in the postwar era. Caterpillar machines and drivers replaced the horse and rider as the cyborg of the future. After Mound Metalcraft launched the Tonka truck, it soon followed with a full line of earth-​moving toys. The company used accurate materials including rubber tyres, steel, and automotive enamel paints. Sales skyrocketed, from 500 per week in 1947, to 125,000 weekly in 1962, and by 1965 the numbers paralleled automobile sales.69 Of course, toy production already had increased in prior decades, commensurate with the growth of industrialization and concomitant notions of the psychological and moral importance of children’s play.70 The Buddy “L” line of realistic construction vehicles, for example, dates to 1910, and was followed by other large relatively inexpensive heavy metal vehicles in the twenties and some with batteries in the late thirties.71 But the postwar era witnessed changes in marketing, the surge of youthful consumers, and the staggering production of the Tonka trucks. Advertising and product design also increased sales, but frequently with an added agenda of turning destructive machines into positive forces –​or, as with Tonka trucks, transforming relatively benign toys into fierce fighters and heroic destroyers. The reimagining of destruction was endemic to the era –​after all, bikinis converted the dreaded site of nuclear explosions into scanty beach attire. Barthes, in Mythologies, aptly describes advertising and other signifying systems as practices that served to artificially resolve social contradiction by making them appear natural.72 Just as bulldozers that destroyed town and country were reclaimed as heroes, Pontiac hood ornaments from the mid-​fifties, which optimistically conjoined the head of Chief Pontiac to a jet plane, magically resolved contradictions. Its swept wings were modeled after the jet aircraft of the period and in that regard symbolized the power of Cold War fighter and bomber planes and the military-​industrial complex. General Motors may have wanted to appropriate the primitivist trope of raw, savage energy and freedom often associated with the Native American male body, yet the mascot obfuscated the dire conditions of the Native American communities in the postwar 148

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era.73 Caricatured South Pacific islanders likewise happily interact with the U.S. military construction battalions under the aegis of Coca Cola. Social and political problems were magically subsumed under corporate patronage and made playful in droll images of destruction. Postwar design ubiquitously naturalized destruction. Populuxe objects frequently transformed Cold War fears into whimsical items by spoofing on bombs or missiles. Some of these objects were produced in the late thirties and have something of a streamlined aesthetic, but they were ubiquitous household goods in the forties and fifties. One thinks of Androck bullet-​ shaped serving utensils or the Dazey Ice Crusher, which was designed by Jean Reinecke in 1939 but hung in his own kitchen in the fifties.74 A brightly colored, somewhat useless kitchen appliance, Dazey turned the fearsome torpedo or soaring space age rocket into a clownish character, and the force of “crushing” once again into a festive social activity. Pushbutton appliances were similarly playful in shape while they alluded to detonating the dreaded atomic bomb.75 They continue a tradition that dates at least to WWI, of utilizing the material culture of war to bridge memory and everyday life. In Europe, for example, salt cellars could be shell-​shaped and

Figure 4-​ 7 Pontiac hood ornament, 1954, General Motors, photographer Ed Coppola.

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chrome plated steel cutlery took the form of shrapnel.76 The Dazey may have created a memory bridge for some, but its rather cartoonish persona, in red plastic, suggestive of the anthropomorphic advertising of objects at the time, as well its marginal functionality, strikes a different note. These many items found in the atomic home turned Cold War fears into ephemeral, lighthearted actions in the everyday.

Artists and Destruction in the Public Space The postwar assemblage artists transformed the urban world into their adventure playgrounds, rescuing junk and reconfiguring urban detritus with a bricolage or critical aesthetic –​or both. Playing with destruction during the Cold War could be a contentious arena –​and playing with it in an outspoken and critical manner even more so in the wake of McCarthyism.

Figure 4-​8  Jean Reinecke, Dazey Ice Crusher, 1939, photographer: Ed Coppola. Courtesy of Barbra Jean Reinecke Sedory.

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A  coded, more slippery idiom was often the language of choice.77 As New York’s rebuilding campaigns allowed for the creative repurposing of discarded materials by artists, stories abound of their enthusiastic rummaging through the cast-​offs –​Louise Nevelson using urban debris for her sculptures, Rauschenberg scavenging the streets of the Lower East Side, and Bontecou reclaiming worn-​out canvas conveyor belts tossed into the street by the laundry under her studio. The debris of the city along with war equipment and airplane parts found in Canal Street formed free materials for Bontecou’s sculpture as it did for many artists of the day. Called the “junk aesthetic” by Lawrence Alloway and ubiquitously referred to as Neo-​Dada, numerous artists embraced these diverse materials and included them in their constructions. Showing together in New York exhibitions such as New Media New Forms at the Martha Jackson Gallery in 1960, and William Seitz’s 1961 Art of Assemblage at The Museum of Modern Art, the group of artists received widespread press but with the kind of ambivalence this study proposes. Some critics focused on formal issues, such as how Rauschenberg incorporated a stuffed goat aesthetically into his combine. But since the politics of mass consumption remained a key issue at the time, the junk aesthetic was on occasion linked to the planned obsolescence of the new consumer society or seen as an implied critique. In one critic’s view, junk was synonymous with superfluous wealth and the concomitant treatment of the poor as superfluous.78 One found, in fact, an oscillation between a celebration of junk as the newly discovered real and a critique of it as indicative of a culture of excess.79 Many artists reacted to the extreme double valence in postwar Germany of destruction and “miraculous” rapid economic growth. Wolf Vostell, for example, staged public décollage performances as a tactic to situate the act of remembering in the present. In one, Tour de Vanves. Das Theater ist auf der Strasse of 1958 (which actually took place in France), he activated the desiccated spaces of the postwar city by encouraging performers to physically rip posters off walls. As Claudia Mesch argues, these posters, as detritus of the city torn from the public space also become ruins of advertising in that they reject the hyperconsumerism that marked the era of reconstruction.80 Décollage then both focuses on objects that have been reduced to ruins and also stages yet again the process of destruction that had rendered them as such.81 151

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Just as urban renewal marginalized the poor, so did garbage –​a point that was not lost on many artists, from Oldenburg in New York to Edward Kienholz in California. Issues of war, reconstruction and poverty were global concerns. In postwar Brazil, for example, films labeled “the aesthetics of hunger” or “the aesthetics of garbage” engage the art and politics of the garbage heap. As historians Ella Shohat and Robert Stam contend, the films capture a sense of marginality, of being able to exist with scarcity. It is the place where the dark and the dirty are transformed into the sublime and the beautiful.82 In the sixties, Brazil saw the birth of the underground Cinema Novo, associated with filmmakers such as Rogerio Sganzerla, which was marked by its dirty screen and “garbage aesthetics.”83 Extolled by actor-​director Glauber Rocha in his 1965 manifesto, he maintained that:  “From Amanda to Vidas Secas, Cinema Novo narrated, described, poeticized, discoursed, analyzed. It aroused the themes of hunger: characters eating roots, characters stealing to eat, characters killing to eat, characters fleeing to eat….”84 This practice of reclaiming and repurposing urban junk has been the subject of a sizable literature engaging various topics including obsolescence, Neo-​Dada, trauma and memory, the aesthetics of garbage, consumerism, and American hegemony abroad. My particular focus here is to provide another context for these practices in the ambivalent mindset that marks the ephemeral rites of destruction of the postwar era. As children played in bomb sites and derby drivers replayed games of chicken by smashing cars, artists scrounged the discarded remains of cities devastated by war, urban renewal or poverty to reclaim them through artistic practices that are filmic, sculptural and performative. Claes Oldenburg’s diverse production from the late fifties to the late sixties –​in particular the pivotal years between the two decades –​bears witness to the exuberance of the culture of demolition. From urban junk, to ray gun toys, to Caterpillar trucks, his work plays with destruction in an ambivalent and joyous manner. As Barbara Rose wrote close the time, Oldenburg and his friends shared “an element of self-​destructiveness, which could ultimately be tapped for its creative potential.”85 Rose was speaking of 1960, the year Oldenburg installed his now canonical work The Street in the Reuben Gallery (6–​19 May) and in the Judson Memorial Church (29 February–2 March). The ray gun itself, Oldenburg’s alter ego and a preferred image in 152

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its amalgam of phallus and gun, is the ur example of Latour’s iconoclash. Ambling the public space like a Situationist dérive, he collected his whimisical trove of surrogate guns.86 Indeed, Oldenburg’s slogan for the Ray Gun performance series held within The Street, “Annihilate –​illuminate,” targets the underlying issue of fertility and destruction.87 Oldenburg and Dines, like Saint Phalle at this time, played with guns it seems. Destruction and the ludic commingle once again in installations that are both fun and disturbing. To quote Oldenburg from 1961: RAY GUN 1. Kid’s toy. 2. Seeing through walls. 3. The universal angle. Examples: Legs, Sevens, Pistols, Arms, Phalli –​simple Ray Guns. Double Ray Guns: Cross, Airplanes….5. Accidental references: A movie house in Harlem. A nuclear testing site in the Sahara (Ragon). ….7. Cryptic sayings:… When Ray Gun shoots no-​one dies.88

Judson Church, the site of his performances and exhibitions during 1960 and 1961 places Oldenburg in Greenwich Village, the epicenter of protests over urban destruction, and the exact area that Jane Jacobs was fighting to save from Moses’s “bulldozer.” With trash on the floor and populated with rough, messy, dripped, seemingly torn and sooted forms, The Street recalls the transgressive dirt that Susan Sontag relished in the Happenings at that time.89 It also conjures the generative street life that Jacobs extolled and Oldenburg himself enjoyed. As Joshua Shannon persuasively argues in his article on The Street, the mess counters the cleansing campaigns endemic to Moses’s modernizing schemes.90 Oldenburg, who lived on the Lower East Side and witnessed the destruction firsthand, critiqued the situation in a prose poem: “Civic improvements, plazas, malls, centers, ports, projects, projects, projects. Got two heads full! Cut the folks up, cut up the plain folds, trim ’em like trees, saw ’em to size, make bricks of ’em, beams, pile ’em up, seal ’em to each other by their juices. Build Build Bld.”91 Like the adventure playgrounds, where some leaders were trained to passively oversee or surreptitiously encourage childhood forays into anarchy, The Street partakes of a chaotic Dada spirit that can be contextualized to the antagonism between modernist renewal and a rejection of such order. 153

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Figure 4-​9 Claes Oldenburg, The Street, 1960, installation view, photographer unknown, Judson Gallery, Judson Memorial Church, New York, courtesy of Oldenburg van Bruggen Studio.

Oldenburg more than once riffed on the theme of creative destruction in the public space, in The Street and later in his 1969 antiwar monument Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks. This work formed a raucous intervention, as art and performance, into the arguably sterile rationalism of Yale University’s Beinecke Plaza as it mediated between the library designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill in 1962 and a war memorial listing the names of alumni who died in past battles. Antiwar symbolism was immediately recognizable in the work’s imagery: the military tank, the phallic lipstick based on bullet designs, the sexuality that so marked advertising as the official art of modern capitalist society (to quote 154

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Raymond Williams) and of the postwar military-​industrial complex, and the body politics of the “make love not war” generation that aimed to desublimate sexuality. Recently, Tom Williams has extended this monument’s critical framework by addressing its challenge to broader issues endemic to the radical politics of the late sixties and to the subject of object pornography. Drawing on Marcuse’s writing, which were so inspirational to the Yale dissident students, Williams argues that it was the anarchist and hedonistic elements of the protest that challenged bureaucratic conformity in both the United States and the Soviet Union, although, he concludes, the optimism of those years was subsequently co-​opted in support of the social and political status quo.92 The urban renewal problems in New Haven, Connecticut, home to Yale, as outlined by Williams, form an intriguing parallel to those in New York City which engaged Oldenburg. With a gentrifying and cleansing agenda, New Haven Mayor Richard Lee attempted to introduce building projects that would replace inner city neighborhoods with spanking new highways

Figure 4-​10 Claes Oldenburg, Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, 1969, Cor-​Ten steel, aluminum; coated with resin and painted with polyurethane enamel, 23ft 6″ × 24ft 10½″ × 10ft 11″ (7.16 × 7.58 × 3.33 m) Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Colossal Keepsake Corporation. Copyright 1969, Claes Oldenburg.

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fit for the suburban commuter population. The furious response to the proposal took the form of a five-​day riot and looting spree in the city. And in 1966, when Yale bought some land with the express purpose of destroying part of downtown to build a new Center for British Art, the students were up in arms over the dismantling of neighborhoods and a local gallery. As one student later remarked, with a reference to the ubiquitous symbol of urban cleansing: “It was like coming in with a bulldozer and stripping the topsoil off a field.”93 This statement points yet again to the broader cultural and military implications of trucks, jeeps, tanks, and earth moving equipment at the time. Oldenburg mused on the latent content of these machines in 1965: “The fact that the trucks go to the river in the morning starting about three produces great dreams, or is one of the factors in Chelsea that produces dreams. I never had dreams like this ‘til I moved to Chelsea –​every night enormous dreams –​torturous, long, extended, very dramatic, very realistic dreams. It has to do with the fact that you’re kept on the verge of waking by these trucks and other things….”94 In his production, as many have shown, objects are laden with psychological, sexual, social and political references –​so too with trucks. Oldenburg’s own toy production ranged from guns to cars to airplane models, recalling his youthful building of miniature sets on which he “staged fires and crashes of cars and airplanes on a miniature scale.”95 Such popular demolition playthings or the actual equipment made their way into the art of his contemporaries in a comparably loaded manner. One thinks of Smithson’s Jurassic earthmover in his 1970 film of the The Spiral Jetty or Gordon Matta-​Clark’s urban interventions aided by machinery of destruction/​construction. From 1971 to 1978, Matta-​Clark produced a group of works created through architectural cuttings. In one of his photographs, Splitting, of 1974, a strip of light shines optimistically through the wreckage. His practice, which has been the focus of much analysis, targets the theme of iconclashtic and ephemeral rites of destruction so widespread in his formative years.96 Oldenburg’s Caterpillar truck in his Lipstick (Ascending), when problematized in the light of the bulldozer politics that troubled New Haven’s inner city and the controversial urban renewal practices of the sixties, suggests an ironic (if unintentional) comment on the heroic WWII bulldozers and macho Seabees. Oldenburg reworked Lipstick (Ascending) when it began to disintegrate. He first replaced the vinyl tip with an aluminum 156

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shell and later removed and restored the entire piece.97 In this manner, he parts ways with the ephemeral visual culture of destruction in favor of the enduring work of art.98 But his production in the early sixties couples with the raucous and multivalent play rife in the populace. It forms a pairing similar to that of Tinguely and the demolition derby as proposed earlier. The Street provides a site where ephemeral dirt, garbage and a nuclear test site in the Sahara meet de Certeau’s vision of walkers and Jacobs’s outcry against the “bulldozer.” Vito Acconci’s production from the sixties to today, which has ranged from performative poetry to performance to performative architecture, embodies the very issues of ephemerality and destruction at the heart of this study. For this section, I quote at length in edited excerpts from an interview that I conducted with Acconci in his New York studio on 15 March 2015, in which he responded to questions about ephemerality and destruction. A quintessential urban artist, he was born in the Bronx in 1940, and raised in New York City during the war and the postwar era. Issues of consumerism, the media, urban reconstruction, and Cold War conflicts formed a backdrop to his high school, college and graduate student years. Although his performance and video work and (more recently) his poetry have received much attention, the evolution of his production from aesthetic destruction as iconoclash to a language of revolt copacetic with late sixties activism aligns with widespread practices of the day. In addition he often evinces a vaudeville humor, in the spirit of Bertolt Brecht or Fluxus art-​amusements, or a dark humor like Ballard’s that played with destruction. My goal here is not to review or revise the important work that has been written on Acconci in regard to poetry, performance and video (not discussed here), architecture or gender but to provide an alternate context for some of his work in ephemeral rites of destruction. Graduating from the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop in 1964, Acconci early on developed a taste for modernist practices and admired the concrete language in Jasper Johns’s work, reminiscing, “I wanted words to be material, Johns let numbers and letters be material.”99 His early poetic experiments addressed the materiality of words themselves. Words referred to the space they occupied rather than a hidden or suggested meaning. The space of the poem transformed into a performative arena when he placed letters randomly on the floor and interacted with them. He quickly 157

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transitioned from performative poetry to performance art. These experiments led him to actions within the public space. He came of age aesthetically at a moment marked by the frequent intersection of artists and poets producing works categorized as mail art, conceptual art, or Concrete Poetry, which blurred distinctions between the visual and the verbal. It also saw the birth of the mimeographed magazine as an artistic practice. Acconci and Bernadette Mayer, from 1967 to 1969, co-​edited a key example of this idiom in 0 TO 9, which intermingled avant-​ garde works of poetry, music and art. Important not only as an early manifestation of conceptual art, these mimeographed magazines functioned likewise as a form of institutional critique engaging alternate types of distribution –​a pertinent issue for both Acconci and Fluxus.100 Existing on the border of words and action, Acconci’s early practice can be construed as a model of destruction as construction, comparable to Fluxus experiments and Cagean liminal space between sound and silence, and in line with Maciunas’s definition of Fluxus as “a continuous moving on or passing, as of a flowing stream.”101 Acconci, in fact, has for many years assigned his students Cage’s 1961 “Lecture on Nothing.”102 While the pages of 0 TO 9 feature a wide range of experimental practices, Number 4, June 1968, includes notable Fluxus artists Emmett Williams, Jackson Mac Low and Dick Higgins. Acconci understandably gravitated to the more literary members of the group such as Mac Low or Higgins, who spearheaded the radical publishing enterprise, Something Else Press. Acconci must have been attracted to the musicality of Mac Low’s prose,103 as he himself, in the early seventies, was to enter the realm of sound art and exploit the seductive cadence of his own voice. When asked about the inclusion of Fluxus artists in his magazine, Acconci reminisces: I knew them at that time, but maybe a little earlier, 65–​66. They had Fluxus festivals on West 57th Street, it was an office building –​and Nam June Paik performed frequently. I liked it but I felt they were fooling around too much –​I liked them from afar –​I paid a lot of attention to Jackson Mac Low, who was for me the closest, and of course Dick Higgins, but I didn’t know him as well. Dick Higgins had a press called Something Else Press and that was really important to me mainly because it was written down.104

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Higgins published Something Else Press for a decade beginning in 1964, with essays on topics ranging from literature to music and performance. One 1966 issue was dedicated to destruction in art (Acconci did not mention it specifically). Acconci knew of Metzger and Ortiz and was familiar with Tinguely, who developed his own ideas on destruction at the same time as Metzger.105 At first he considered Tinguely’s performances to be weakened by showmanship but later appreciated the anarchistic side of his ludic/​destructive practice. Placing Acconci in this context yields surprising parallels. Tinguely’s art anticipated the Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) projects where working and non w ​ orking were constant bedfellows with a Neo-​Dada humorous spirit in line with other forms of “useless science.” Acconci actually attended all of the nine nights of EAT performances at the New York Armory in 1969 and later did a work himself in Rauschenberg’s studio which turned into a comparably raucous situation: Yes, I went to them all –​all nine nights –​the reason I went to them was because I knew something about Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver was a name to me too and I took him as the organizer. This was very early maybe 65. I don’t remember how this happened but someone who was doing a project was given a particular artist’s loft. By accident I got Rauschenberg’s loft, but it was in the basement. I went down and there were hundreds of chickens, so if an audience came in they couldn’t wander around because they would step on a chicken.106

His performance, he remembers, was chaotic, with one performer typing while the audience navigated the cluttered space. The exuberant humor with which Acconci relates this tale recalls the laughing crowds at a demolition derby, which in turn conjures the spirit of Fluxus performers, many of whom took part in the Destruction in Art Movement. As Maciunas wrote in 1963, the art-​amusement “must be simple amusing concerned with insignificances, have no commodity or institutional value.”107 Acconci, who is drawn to the counterculture and to the vernacular, appreciated such humor, quipping that he preferred the “messier” slapstick humor of the Marx Brothers to Duchamp’s irony, and that when he walked through a Richard Serra installation he was not looking 159

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to find God, but hoped instead for a restaurant with something to eat.108 Of course Acconci’s performances, E.A.T. evenings and Fluxus art-​amusements part ways on many levels –​engineers contributed thousands of hours to E.A.T. performances for ­example –​but they all played with humor in the liminal space between destruction and construction, as did the public. Fluxus practices critiqued consumerism, capitalism and the culture of the spectacle and in this manner expressed the anti-​establishment zeal that marked the late sixties. “Dematerialization,” Lucy Lippard’s famous moniker of choice for conceptual strategies prevalent from 1966 to 1972, was a radical practice that was both prefigured and fed by Fluxus artists. Attacking formal modes of distribution and authorial authenticity, 0 TO 9 fit the parameters of conceptual art and helped push Acconci from the literary to the performative. But for Lippard, the concealed narrative of Six Years was her growing inclination toward political activism.109 Indeed, as Catherine Morris and Vincent Bonin argue, Lippard’s subtext was a critique of progress and American triumphalism which found itself at odds with Cold War politics and the Vietnam War.110 While artists wanted to unsettle the art world status quo, many, like Lippard, began to see the need for overt political content as an engagement with the social and political realities of the late sixties –​so too with Acconci.111 In a broad way this shift follows the trajectory I have chronicled here, from an ambivalence or a disguised critique, often couched in play aesthetics, to open social commitment –​from the fairgrounds to the prisons –​the trajectory, of course, was not always so linear. “Street Works,” a July 1969 supplement to 0 TO 9, documented Acconci’s street actions which have been contextualized to the late sixties social and political activists who “took to the streets.”112 No doubt humorously but with an element of commitment, Acconci came to identify in the seventies with the urban warrior who traverses the desiccated or banal vernacular landscape.113 As he wrote in 1975, with a nod to institutional critique: “I am a guerrilla fighter, not an artist. This is not a show, but a hit-​ and-​run-​attack. That isn’t a gallery: it’s a combat zone….”114 Yet, he quips today, “I loved the idea of being a roving guerrilla fighter, but I don’t think I ever was one!”115 However, it was in this guise that Acconci turned to the automobile as an ephemeral dwelling, in the perambulatory The Peoplemobile 160

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of 1979, and The House of Cars of 1983, (reconfigured in 1988 for The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The Peoplemobile featured a truck that traveled through several cities in Northern Europe, and House of Cars functioned as a housing complex comprised of abandoned automobiles. While these works occur at the turn of the eighties, they develop from Acconci’s long-standing interest in the roving cities of Archigram (known to him by the early seventies) or Ballard’s subversive writings on the automobile.116 These two installations using automobiles and trucks as ephemeral housing also highlight Acconci’s abiding critique of American architectural triumphalism as expressed through the vertical skyscrapers that were built in his youth (he remembered the 1958 construction of the Seagram’s Building)117 and that were fraught with Cold War rhetoric. Influenced by Learning from Las Vegas and Archigram, they mark his turn to performative architecture. Acconci is known for his interrogation of the boundaries between public and private space and for his repudiation of postwar modernist architectural conceptions. He underscores to this day how important survival tactics, mobile homes and moving cites were to him –​notions that led him to use the truck in The Peoplemobile.118 He also appreciates the car as part of American vernacular culture –​from its roadside clutter to its role in buddy and disaster movies. He adds ironically that he has never in fact driven a car but affirms that using them in his art has been very purposeful. The underlying dark humor in the writings of J.G. Ballard fascinated Acconci. He knew of him in the sixties, had read Crash (although he preferred the 1996 film to the novel), and continues to assign sections of The Atrocity Exhibition to his classes: “The Atrocity Exhibition is my favorite –​the 1990 one is his best, the annotated one –​it gave Ballard a chance to write almost a whole new novel based on the old novel but without taking the old novel away.”119 The text is a direct portrayal of the mediated landscape of violence evocative of the sixties, with its deaths of major leaders, and a car culture that embodied the dual valence of desire and destruction. It also fused private desire, violence and public action in a manner that marks Acconci’s own production. Acconci’s work of the eighties then harks back to his early years as an artist in the late sixties, to Ballard and Warhol, to postwar concerns with automobiles as ciphers of trauma and sexuality –​to cyborgian vehicles that both attract and 161

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Figure 4-​11  Vito Acconci, The Peoplemobile, 1979, mobile installation (Amsterdam/​ Rotterdam/​Middleburgh/​Eindhoven/​Groningen); truck, steel panels, vinyl, audio, 24 panels 2″ × 5ft × 7ft, courtesy of the Acconci Studio.

Figure 4-​12  Vito Acconci, House of Cars, 1983, painted junk cars and car seats, steel, 10ft × 30ft × 6ft, courtesy of the Acconci Studio.

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repel. Ballard in turn referenced European Surrealism, Warhol, and the Independent Group whose exhibition This is Tomorrow he had visited in 1956. More recently, Ballard’s writings have been cast as a canny critique of utopian modernism marshaling disjunctive strategies reminiscent of Archigram120 –​and by extension we might add, Acconci. The Peoplemobile, the earlier of the two works selected here, featured Acconci’s voice broadcasting an offer of aid to terrorists.121 According to his 1979 notes, a flatbed truck transported steel panels for the potential reconstruction of both furniture and architecture. It stopped in town squares for three days at a time. The first day it functioned as a support for a staircase, the second day for basic shelters and passageways, and on day three for a table-​and-​chair unit. The front of the truck was covered with black plastic and was visually suggestive of a face. Although certainly not Acconci’s intention, the truck resembles the heroic construction vehicles of the postwar era (anthropomorphized in children’s books) transformed into a seventies critique of right wing forces and the failure of postwar utopian reconstruction agendas. The truck was equipped with a public address system comprised of two speakers mounted on the front and back of the vehicle. Acconci himself likens this work to performative architecture in the tradition of roving cities and Archigram.122 Architecture is transformed here into a traveling show that critiques consumerism as an antiproductive apparatus, reminiscent in this regard of the demolition derby. He chants the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen” repeatedly in a vaudeville spirit that sets the tone of play, as in Maciunas’s art-​amusements, or engages the public in the manner of Bertolt Brecht –​an important author to him. In Acconci’s words: The truck, then, is like a traveling medicine-​show with a message to give, a product to sell. As an outsider, it can introduce a product for which there’s no apparent demand, no apparent need here; as a public-​address system, it issues a warning to citizens whose custom it is to pass through this place (while, as a public-​address system coming from elsewhere, coming out of nowhere, it can issue an invitation to others, to people who have no place here, to people who might be in hiding); as a face, it can meet those people face to face; as a pick-​up truck, it can take them in, take them away; as a delivery truck, it might be

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Destruction Rites delivering those very people (or at least the idea of those people) that it has come to hunt down.123

The loudspeaker message is a poetic one that Acconci is especially fond of, yet one that is highly significant in its references to popular entertainment (the traveling medicine shows of the past), excesses of the spectacle and American hegemony abroad (products without demand), globalism and displacement, and terrorism as political critique. But for us here, its subversive humor comes to the fore. In my interview, Acconci read the following text aloud with a musicality that transformed poetry into sound art. Chanting its message, with fervor, he exhorts terrorists to come to him for aid: 124

Ladies and Gentlemen … Is there a terrorist in the crowd… Ladies and Gentlemen… I have come for your terrorists… Bring me your terrorists… Watch: I can look at your terrorists Straight in the eye…125 The text ends with words which are particularly meaningful to him and that he relishes reading: Check your watches… I’m warning you… When the time I say is the time you have… When the time I say is the right time… Something’s going to happen here… Something’s going to happen here… Something’s going to happen here… Although it is plausible to interpret the work's primary goal as a disruptor of the status quo,126 terrorism itself was a problematic issue in Europe at the time signaling both violence and critique. The Peoplemobile, in fact, followed closely on the heels of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof affair, which Acconci remembers as significant at the time: 164

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Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space In 1978 or 79 I was somewhere in Germany –​I went into a post office with a person I was living with and the clerk behind the counter asked us to wait a moment, went inside, and suddenly the place was filled with police because the person I was with looked so much like one of the Baader-Meinhof group. It was amazing how quickly they came and they had weapons –​that was the time when they put this Italian man in the trunk of the car causing his death.127

The Baader-Meinhof scandal concerning the problematic deaths in prison of the RAF (Red Army Faction), a terrorist group active in Germany since the early seventies, raised many questions including ones about Germany’s Nazi past, police brutality and death in the media. Gerhard Richter’s 1988 cycle of 15 paintings, October 18, 1977, based on press photos of the group’s leaders found dead in their cells, problematized these very issues. The left-​wing agenda of the group and the events surrounding their controversial deaths parallel some of my examples from the early sixties in their tangled messages. Were they criminals or heroes? Was it suicide or murder? Were they replaying Germany’s historic violence or countering it? Were the actions constructive or destructive? Acconci’s intervention falls within this ambivalent critique as it marshals vaudeville performance and dark humor to question terrorism as a positive or negative force. In sum, Acconci uses ephemeral dwellings in the public space, vaudeville aesthetics and humor to capture the complexity of the political scene –​to interrogate terrorism at a moment when the public struggled with this exact question. One thinks here of Latour’s “hilarious sacrilege.” Acconci’s House of Cars can be contextualized to postwar critiques of urbanism, with their transformation of sites of urban destruction into playgrounds. Built as a temporary dwelling –​playfully alluding to a house of cards –​with gutted cars that had been welded together, he addresses notions of destruction and ephemerality in the public space.128 The work was meant to be habitable and to function as a derelict refuge to be placed at curbside or in a parking space. Inside two double car seats are positioned at right angles to form a couch. A stairway allows access to the “second floor,” and on the top floor a tire swing hangs from a rope and helps transform the makeshift home into a play space. 165

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Looking back at the installation in 2005, Acconci considered it unsuccessful as an actual home and complained: What I thought was wrong with pieces like Bad Dream House or House of Cars was that they’re public, anybody can use them, like a public playground. Something is called House of Cars but you can’t really live there, there is no bathroom no kitchen so ‘house’ was a lie. If it I called it a ‘playground of cars’ then I wouldn’t be lying because you could use it to play.129

And indeed the photos reveal its ludic potential as children climb upon it or laughingly sprawl in its interior spaces. While Acconci’s later reservations stem from his desire to move into the realm of architecture and public space (this was first installed in a parking lot and then at The Museum of Modern Art in New York), he understands and appreciates its success as a play space, adding that from the beginning he had gravitated toward using a building for play and that critics have focused on this issue.130 Acconci’s photos of the House of Cars catch youths reclining inside or jumping from car to car with abandon, experiencing the transgressive pleasure of playing with the forbidden –​private property, dangerous machinery, locked junkyards, etc. (Figures 4-12 and 4-13). His installation facilitates a form of toying with destruction that recalls Situationist games or postwar adventure playgrounds and aligns with the ongoing tradition of the demolition derby. House of Cars was inspired in part by George Miller’s 1979 post-​apocalyptic punk film, Mad Max, with its over-​the-​top car culture, ubiquitous crashes and expression of provisional living in the midst of both social and urban demise.131 Mad Max can be seen as a survivalist fantasy of continuing American identity (via the persistence of the car) in spite of catastrophe and environmental collapse. Archigram relates here, too, as their walking homes are often located in inhospitable environments (like open water or the desert) and implicitly offer a way of living once the natural environment beyond has become dangerous. As Acconci explained to me, there were many more famous movies that he preferred aesthetically, but he had an affinity for this film in its vision of a post-​apocalyptic primordial world where the machine wins. “I thought, how do we know that a few years from now everybody is not going to take old discarded cars and use them? It was

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Figure 4-​13  Vito Acconci, House of Cars, 1983, inside view, painted junk cars and car seats, steel, 10ft × 40ft × 6ft, courtesy of the Acconci Studio.

almost like going back to a pre-​automotive world even though they use automobiles.”132 These words are resonant here, and hark back to Acconci’s youth when Americans assuaged postwar fears by watching nearly 1,000 science fiction films featuring Godzilla and other radiated mutants and crowded the stands to laugh at cars crashing into each other. They conjure as well the absurd humor of deadly machines, or those that don’t work, or the fun of playing with disaster. Acconci has been known for his criticism of the regimented order of utopian modernism in favor of the “walkers,” the banal and the ephemeral. In his use of mobile dwellings, performative architecture and even earlier in his “destroyed” syntax, the double valence of destruction and creation reigns supreme where uniformity, permanence, and regimentation is broken down: “That’s why to me the notion of architecture is always a notion of some kind of action, some kind of performance.”133

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5 Garage Sales and Planned Obsolescence

In his introductory remarks to the “Destruction in Art Symposium,” Gustav Metzger listed “planned obsolescence” among the issues in society that concerned him and that his art targeted.1 And indeed planned obsolescence formed a major corporate strategy that encouraged the destruction of vast numbers of newly manufactured objects in the postwar era. Although this policy was clearly a lucrative one, judged by the ever-​changing fads promoted in consumer goods –​huge fashion swings (mini to maxi skirts in the late sixties), annual automotive remodels and trends in colors and styles of home furnishings, for example pink refrigerators –​it fostered a lively backlash in the public, a critical force of antidiscipline in the everyday that denied its mandates. With the rise of garage sales and the onset of a swap economy (which has only grown in the twenty-​first century, given the success of Ebay, Craigslist and the retro boom), families in the mid-​sixties refused to throw it all away and across America set up shop, holding sales on lawns and in the garages of their personal residences. Martha Rosler has recorded these events in an unpublished series of 1972 photographs which she shared with me. This underground economy formed a site of resistance in both its economic and social relations (through personal interactions). Just as the demolition derby drivers would not care to dismantle General

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Motors (although they too counter the company’s policy of planned obsolescence), these families would not want to bankrupt corporate America. But in the spirit of de Certeau’s notion of antidiscipline, minimal tax-​free profits were welcomed, as was the chance to buy a neighbor’s perfectly acceptable children’s clothing for a pittance. One might say that these lively, friendly events provided the psychic as well as physical space for the surreptitious joy of beating the system. Obsolescence, or planned obsolescence, the moniker of choice for marketing strategies beginning in the thirties and crescendoing in the postwar era, has remained a critical subject today that engages issues of globalism, nostalgia, the outmoded, the politics of the garbage heap, accumulations and new media as it dialogs with the handmade or the obsolete. Even the quick shift of lionized artistic styles fits this bill.2 The flip side of innovation is arguably obsolescence as newly invented objects render others out of date. Indeed a 2002 issue of the magazine October, on the theme of obsolescence, printed the answers of 21 artists to the following questions:

Figure 5-​1 Martha Rosler, garage sale photograph, 1972, southern California, courtesy of Martha Rosler.

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Destruction Rites The obsolescent, the “outmoded,” the nonsynchronous, discarded forms, marginal mediums:  all of these seem to be resources of special interest to many of the most interesting artistic projects today. How does obsolescence figure in your work? Do you mobilize it for critical purposes primarily? What is the critical purchase of obsolescence? Or does it serve constructive purposes in your work –​i.e., the making of a new sort of medium or form? Is obsolescence a site of resistance? Why? How? Does it provide a model for accessing dimensions of memory and/​or history for you? In what ways? How do you see obsolescence being deployed in artistic projects other than yours? Why is there this interest today?3

While many of the responses sideswiped the questions, nonetheless a lively debate was recorded within the pages of the issue. Positions ranged from Judith Barry’s nod to George Bataille’s notion of dépense as a need for loss,4 to Zoe Leonard’s inclusive photography project: If I photograph every single product in the world, every item we have extracted, refined, manufactured, every item that is bought and sold, the pictures would contain the story of who we are, what kind of society we have become. All would be revealed in this –​the political alliances and trade agreements, the stories of slavery and sweatshops, the stories of rubber plantations and sugar plantations, of coffee and tobacco and cotton plantations –​the endless story of human progression from subsistence economies to capitalism. From hunting and gathering to Kmart and Target. From isolation to trade, from imperialism to colonialism to globalization.5

Questions of obsolescence, and by extension garage sales, touch on these contemporary global topics and also exist within material culture studies under rubrics such as Rubbish Theory and Consumption Studies. The garage sale phenomenon developed hand in hand with postwar consumerism. Prior to the 1960s, household goods and clothing were not discarded if at all possible. Instead they were restored, revamped, reused, passed down from generation to generation or discreetly donated to a charity. Shopping for used items was an embarrassment, a public sign of financial need, just as having to work had been humiliating for some 170

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Victorian women, who sold their crafts anonymously.6 Selling, as opposed to donating one’s personal items, carried a social stigma as well. One way to discard or pass along such items was via the long-standing tradition of church jumble sales, beautifully described by British novelist Barbara Pym in many of her books set in postwar Britain. There was even a disreputable aspect to the displays of cast-​offs in the early twentieth century. As Molly Nesbit has shown in her study of Eugène Atget’s photographs, the spectacle of old goods in French shop windows was unseemly enough to be legislated against in 1913.7 Yet, by 1960, for his exhibition Le Plein, Arman filled the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris with an unsightly mess visible to passersby, in part to critically, if ambiguously, engage in this discourse. In the postwar society in the United States and internationally, the situation was, of course, significantly different. Exacerbated by conflicting attitudes toward obsolescence, consumerism, American hegemony abroad, modernity and new marketing strategies, there was a contradictory spirit at work –​in line with the shifting outlook toward destruction chronicled here. As Jill Carrick argues in her book on French Nouveau Réalisme : “This ambiguity was due in part to a specifically French context of reception of the object that was itself in a state of flux. At the aesthetic level, this context was fractured between Surrealist and ‘modernist’ views of the object, and at the social level, between attitudes of enthusiasm and deep ambivalence towards the new ‘American’ culture of the ‘throw-​away’ consumer object.”8 My intention is to position the garage sale of the mid-​sixties between the Surrealists’ forays into the French flea markets of the thirties, the sixties camp sensibility and new collecting of Warhol and Sontag in America, and leftist critiques of consumerism and the spectacle in Europe in the late sixties. In many ways it fits this liminal terrain  –​neither market driven nor pure gifting, fun but not necessarily camp, an underground economy but not critique, led by women but not feminist, a place of saving and discarding. In frequenting garage sales today, I  notice that objects that are generally displayed are items like children’s clothes, not the uncanny or the camp, although reception to a large degree determines these categories and can alter our vision of the ordinary. Other and perhaps stranger objects may also be available, as sellers try to clean out their attics, basements and closets. For the most part, however, parents search practically for the right sizes of clothing while they may find something else that jars the memory. 171

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Figure 5-​2  Arman, Le Plein, Iris Clert Gallery, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender.

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Participants in garage sales do not want to undermine capitalism, just to poach on it with an underground swap economy that comes as close to gifting as to selling. While popular television shows such as the Antiques Roadshow, have changed today’s culture of garage sales by alerting both dealers and sellers to the possibility of hidden treasures stowed away or buried in attic chests, we must remember that the culture was quite different in the sixties. A treasure was for the most part an affordable and useful object. Martha Rosler, who frequented these events in the late sixties and early seventies, corroborates this position and describes the wares as follows: “There weren’t a lot of attic-​clearing sales in suburban and small town North San Diego County. I’d have to check my photos, but it was pretty much the detritus of everyday life straight out of mass commercial sources and, of course the ‘ubiquitous plastic items’! The most likely treasures to be found were dishware from the 1940s, and in that particular area, things brought back from trips to Hawaii and, for military families, to the Far East, especially Japan.”9 Rosler’s 1972 photo captures the mundane aspect of such merchandise.

Figure 5-​3  Martha Rosler, garage sale photograph, 1972 southern California, courtesy of Martha Rosler.

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Much of the scholarly groundwork on early garage sales has been done by the anthropologist Gretchen Herrmann, and I  am indebted to her research and thoughtful conclusions. She contends that prior to 1965 garage sales were rare. They were born of both postwar consumerism and the rise of the suburb, but she attributes their rapid growth in the late sixties and seventies to counterculture values of the youth generation and concomitant economic downturns.10 They coincide with the birth of a reuse or recycle ethos instrumental to the founding of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in 1970. Garage sales were a specifically American phenomenon, which Herr­ mann claims was dependent on indigenous values of openness and friendliness.11 They were set up at a private residence and were available to the public for around eight hours a day over a one or two day period. They were (and are), when contrasted to other sale venues, marked by their ephemerality. Displayed items were used, or, if new, had been given to or purchased by the owners for personal consumption. They could be single-​or multiple-​family affairs, or even town-​wide happenings, generally advertised in the local newspapers followed up by makeshift arrows and signs in yards and tacked onto telephone poles. As Herrmann makes clear, because these sellers market their own wares, there is an important personal connection between the seller and the buyer. They differ from house or estate sales, which are run by professionals following the owner’s death or a move, and from flea markets, which are organized by vendors selling objects they have purchased or collected for the express purpose of resale. Since these merchandising venues are distinct from the home environment, the relationship between seller and customer is of a different order. Precedents for the garage sales can be found in rummage sales, estate sales, flea markets and auctions. The first was associated with charity and often held in church basements or similar locations with a religious affiliation. These settings encouraged a definite class distinction between those who give and those who purchase –​one that is eroded in the garage sale. Estate sales (sometimes called tag sales) and flea markets both sell used goods but prices are higher. At flea markets the goods are preselected by the vendors –​who may themselves have done the legwork at garage sales. Auctions are also third-​party affairs, with prices determined by competitive bidding rather than the bargaining or gifting practices endemic to the 174

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lawn sale. Since their advent in the sixties, the garage sale has become an established American tradition with Herrmann proffering a number of between six and nine million sales annually at the time of her research in 1990.12 I find Herrmann’s most intriguing conclusions based on her extensive garage sale research to be in relation to questions of gender and alternative market strategies which she likens to Maussian notions of gifting. In Marcel Mauss’s now canonical writing on gifting, he stresses the social relations engaged in alternate forms of exchange. She relies as well on Arjun Appadurai’s understanding of how “things-​in-​motion” go in and out of commodity status and in so doing reveal their social content.13 But in the end she considers the garage sale to be a mixture of both market and gifting models that is fascinating in regard to issues of gender and labor. She states in a 1996 article, “I argue here that much exchange in the garage sale is giftlike, insofar as the prices are often token and many things are given outright. Even the goods that are sold, following Mauss, engage the transactors in a style of social relations that are more personally binding than most in U.S. society. The emphasis here is on women, in part because they comprise approximately two-​thirds of the shoppers and sellers in this informal trade from the home….”14 Herrmann explains, based on numerous interviews with garage sales participants in the upper New York State region, that women solidify personal relationships and help to create a sense of community in these sales in part through these gift-like exchanges. Between 1981 and 1996, she interviewed over 200 shoppers of different ages, social classes and ethnicities, including African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans, and observed 1,700 garage sales.15 Most shoppers and sellers she concludes hailed from the working and middle classes and they were predominately women.16 Herrmann characterizes the exchanges as a “win-​win” phenomenon, where sellers receive a small profit and buyers purchase way under market. Like the demolition derby there are no real capitalist gains or winners per se. Losing is arguably winning, as the car is then recycled to begin anew. But Herrmann emphasizes the personal aspects of the interactions –​people enjoying sharing the stories behind the objects and finding good homes for their “valuables,” etc. She connects this to Mauss’s discussion of how gifts link people to each other, and how goods can be seen as possessions that in some manner carry the 175

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identity of their owners. Outright gifts are part of the sales too, as boxes of free goods are often placed on the lawns. Class and wealth can impact the gift-​like aspect of the exchange Hermann contends. More affluent women can afford to give things away, but she has observed that working class women benefit from the lower prices and experience an empowerment that is different from charity.17 An example of one of Herrmann’s testimonials goes as follows, “We had an old stove sitting out there that was a beat-​up piece of stuff, and some people came by –​in a real beat-​up car –​and obviously needed it. We just gave it to them. I think there is a degree of pleasure in that sort of thing, especially with people who do not need it.”18 Sellers don’t see it as charity but as giving. Buyers, on the other hand, often want to spend at least a modicum of money in this way to preserve the class equity in the exchange. Middle-​class sellers, who could easily unload their objects at charity donations spots, enjoy the community side of the experience. Herrmann’s investigations begin in the eighties but a small book published in 1973 by Jean and Jim Young, The Garage Sale Manual, supports her conclusions. The Youngs were clearly members of the counter-​culture, and their base of reference is the Catskills, an area around Woodstock, home to the famed 1969 concert. For them garage sales involved a form of gifting as well as a way to solidify community relations while providing some economic support for alternative lifestyles. The following quotes are culled from their introductory pages: “A lot of good karma can come out of garage sale experience…. Once we went to a sale in a big old house high in the Catskills and met a girl and her husband, an acupuncturist. She told us they were going off to an ashram in California….she began to show us her collection of old beads, which she was selling to pay for the move…. Some of the beads we bought, some she gave to us, and some she decided to keep. It was a healthy combination of selling, retaining, and generosity.”19 And finally in a paragraph closest to Herrmann’s conclusions they write, “A well-​organized garage sale has something inviting to offer in the way of friendly spirit and can be looked upon as a neighborhood occasion, using the classic idea of the market place as a place to change ideas and exchange things. It’s a chance to get to know people you always wanted to meet… Some sales serve free beer and coffee, others have a box with free things for kids.”20 176

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While much of the ethos and economics of the garage sale aligns with community concerns and gifting practices, struggling households do benefit financially, particularly during economic downturns. The 1973–​4 oil crisis, for example, formed a backdrop to early years of the sales. One could also contextualize the garage sales to feminist concerns of the early seventies, such as the Wages for Housework movement.21 The feminist movement focused on women’s work in the wake of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique. We now know that one third of the workforce in the sixties was actually comprised of women, but they were significantly underpaid in relation to men, an inequity that was targeted by the activists.22 Certainly, as Dayna Tortorici concludes in a discussion of Martha Rosler’s 2012 Meta-​Monumental Garage Sale exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the garage sale forms a material chronicle of years of women’s work, signified by objects ranging from children’s clothing to household goods: “toys, cribs, clothes, odds and ends from fleeting hobbies never pursued; trophies, costumes, blenders and toasters … all these testify to a lifetime of reproductive labor.”23 One might also see these transactions as an extension of women’s entrepreneurial spirit so clearly manifest in the successful Tupperware parties of the fifties, which, like the garage sales, combined both social and economic relations.24 I am not suggesting here a form of biological determinism that women are by nature more social, only that society allowed them to succeed economically in this domestic arena. And the social factor was of importance to them in these events, as Herrmann argues. She records from a 1981 testimonial: These early shoppers also gave me my first sense of community that has come to dominate my memory of that day. Immediately the air was filled with an old-​fashioned feeling of togetherness, as neighbors –​both invited and uninvited –​showed up with all sorts of advice and assistance … Soon we found ourselves telling our own stories through the history of the items we were selling, and listening with real personal interest to the problems and concerns of our customers.25

Whether or to what degree feminist concerns actually informed the early garage sale practitioners are intriguing questions with answers 177

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impacted by differences in region and decade. Identifying with feminism or even defining what it meant, were hotly debated in the seventies among artists and in the culture at large with marked regional and class differences.26 In the seventies in more progressive areas of the country, there may have been a feminist consciousness regarding laboring at a garage sale. In fact, the garage sale has been cast as an activity that bridges ideological camps –​non-feminists can look at it one way and feminists another.27 Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued for Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court in 1973, has shared that the fundraising for the case began with a garage sale.28 Martha Rosler weighs in on this issue as well: Hadler:

Rosler:

Hadler:

Rosler:

Did you think at the time that the suburban sellers that you witnessed were concerned with the Wages for Housework Movement or feminist issues of women’s labor? I think the likelihood of the former was pretty much zero, while there were ideas floating around in the media at the time of the value of women’s work –​but I doubt any of the garage salers were thinking about it. Surely women recognized that what they were doing was work, but I  am guessing that the idea would have settled in only if they did it more than once or twice. Otherwise the labor invested wouldn’t be generalized to abstract questions of wage labor or even unpaid labor. In the suburban garage sales that you saw in California in the early seventies, were they run by feminists to your knowledge or by suburban housewives or both? In the second MOMA symposium you referred to San Diego and San Francisco as informal liberated zones. In one of your first sales you wore a long India-​print hippie skirt. Were the women you observed hosting the sales part of the counter culture (similar to your character) or more conservative suburban woman making extra cash on the side or both? Strictly by suburban or small-​town housewives  –​except for the occasional sale held by anyone else, including feminists. But not as a feminist gesture, but rather to make money. And therefore the sales fit both your posits. Hippies, radicals, feminists, and everyone else interested in making some money, on 178

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an informal and generally one-​time or sporadic level. My hippie attire was to allow me to build a slightly strange persona and to attach it to the art gallery in which the show /​sale was held, as well as to allow for people to think about and decide whether the possessions for sale fit that persona. Not only were hippies and counterculture types endemic to the region, we were near several university communities.29 Over the decades and in typical suburban and rural regions, the housewife-​worker may have experienced the frisson of accruing illicit tax-free profits from this underground economy, but I surmise that she rarely if ever operated with a committed feminist agenda. Indeed, as the women in the suburbs or rural regions gifted and troubled the economy, their feminist colleagues in the universities opened a discourse on labor. The suburban housewife thus is closer to the demolition derby driver as a more conservative supporter of the status quo who enjoys, with an unconscious nod to de Certeau, the joy of beating the system. But here again, the public at large and the art world aficionados roam the same territory. They both counter obsolescence and refuse to destroy, or destroy willfully, as with Tinguely.

The New Collecting Throwaway objects slated for planned obsolescence were reclaimed in various ways including a new type of collecting. Although collecting is a time-​honored tradition –​from antiquity, to the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century wunderkammerns, to centuries of royal purchases, to hobbyists of the 1930s, and to private individuals today –​a new form of collecting occurred in the postwar era, in tandem with the hobbyist craze and fueled by the availability of mass-​marketed objects. Steven Gelber attributes this change from an aristocratic to a more democratized model to the rise of mass production where objects were destined to be thrown away. Hence they were made to be scarce in this manner and at the same time recoupable for naught from trash bins. Collecting industrial culture equalized the practice.30 Even the new hobbyists were pressed into the realm of collecting, as model makers, for example, were encouraged to purchase and display of a variety of inexpensive iterations of 179

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plastic planes, boats and cars. A 1960 Revell advertisement encourages buyers to acquire both the models and portraits of them as rendered by artist John Steel. Between gifting and collecting, mid-century consumers found ways to reject obsolescence. They refused the mandate to destroy.

Figure 5-​4 Advertisement for Revell Inc. Boy’s Life, 1960, courtesy of Ellen Steel Thomas.

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Collecting in the postwar era was available to individuals of every class and economic level. As Kopytoff describes, a thing produced for one reason becomes the coveted items of collectors, and the relationship between supply and demand changes, creating what he deems, a new singularity: “Old beer cans, matchbooks, and comic books suddenly become worthy of being collected, moved from the sphere of the singularly worthless to that of the expensive singular.”31 The cycles of singularity and obsolescence –​or things-​in-​motion to use Appadurai’s words –​so important to the garage sale culture, haunt this discourse. One has only to read the engaging essay on the plastic flamingo by Jennifer Price to chart the bird’s life cycle from Miami Beach in the thirties to Don Featherstone’s lawn ornament of the fifties, to discarded kitsch, to John Waters’s seventies camp appropriation.32 The pink bird then led the fight against the late sixties’ quasi-​religious whole earth movement with its castigation of such plastic kitsch. A radical shift in the language of collecting occurred in l964 with Sontag’s “Notes on Camp,” where she advocated for the kind of ironic connoisseurship and collecting that marks Waters’s adoption of the pink plastic flamingo. Sontag rejects the entrenched hierarchy of high and low, or the good/​bad axis now commonly called “Greenbergian,” and emphasizes instead the viewer’s experience –​of fun, wit and nostalgia. The aesthetics reside for her in the perception of the viewer, not in the object itself, leaving the public empowered and the critic marginalized. One is free to enjoy camp in its many whimsical guises –​or to “be a dandy in the age of mass culture.”33 Sontag’s words, “it’s good because it’s awful,”34 formed the mantra for camp collecting. The sensuousness, humor, nostalgia and symbolic overload of kitsch objects come into play here. Although camp and kitsch differ –​particularly in regard to dandyism –​they overlap as well. The increase in the mass culture with its widespread marketing and sale of plastic trinkets and newly invented gadgets led to a backlash in the intelligentsia which often focused on the aesthetics of kitsch (or the middlebrow compromise labeled “midcult” by Dwight Macdonald).35 Kitsch became the whipping boy of high modernist critics led by Clement Greenberg’s “Avant Garde and Kitsch.”36 It was a player in what was seen, in a language reminiscent of Adorno, as the stultifying effects of mass culture. Kitsch, for many, had to do with falsehood, imitation and effect. More 181

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about sensibility than transcendence, it favored a language of excess over purification.37 Advocates of high modernism who lionized the Abstract Expressionists feared the hegemony of kitsch aesthetics in the media and in the work of Pop artists and the ubiquity of kitsch objects in the mass culture. Aesthetically, kitsch was faulted for its overload of symbolism and affect. But these qualities made kitsch items important for my thesis as they were purchased en masse by the American public, and their contradictory messages, often spoofing the military (jukeboxes with bomber noses), were fodder for the public’s spirited rites of destruction.38 Even nuanced critics such as Umberto Eco, in The Open Work, 1964, tried to come to terms with kitsch in a chapter titled “The Structure of Bad Taste.” It is not surprising that Eco was drawn to this issue, not just because it was hotly debated at the time but because in his theorizing of an “open work” he advocated for multiplicity or polysemy in art, and for the importance of the reader and interactivity between reader and text. “The work of art succeeds precisely insofar as it appears ambiguous and open-​ended,” he claims.39 These issues pervade the discourse on kitsch with its symbolic saturation and seductive affect. Eco advanced a notion of the interdependence of high art and kitsch where the former concocts new forms that the latter relentlessly adapts into “effect-​producing formulas.”40 Ultimately Eco castigated the kind of kitsch where the intention is obvious, such as the winged figure on the hood of a Rolls Royce that is included for prestige rather than designed for aerodynamics.41 But it is just such conflations that are of interest here in, for example, the Dazey Ice Crusher (see ­Figure 4-8), where sleek rendering marks a ludic rocket whose insignificant purpose is to crush ice, or Androck utensils sporting bullet shaped handles in “red hot” plastic. The ability of plastic to morph into different shapes and be saturated with fanciful color, as seen in the red “belly” of the ice crusher, facilitated play, linguistic or otherwise. Dazey’s torpedo shaped body derived from the streamlined aesthetic of the thirties when it first appeared,42 but it was popular in the postwar era which featured over-​the-​top design with military associations, such as the fins of the populuxe automobile. One thinks of Paul Boyer’s thesis on mass culture,43 and how atomic cocktails and bikinis function as a way to cope with the terror endemic to the post-​Hiroshima age. The Cold War period celebrated victory and lauded American prosperity but detonated the fear 182

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by turning war imagery into humorous objects with military associations like the ice crusher.44 Collecting these objects, using them, or cooking in the atomic kitchen is arguably a ludic rite of destruction as defined here. In the sixties flea markets haunted by Warhol and others, fifties objects that were already the victims of planned obsolescence were loaded with nostalgia and reclaimed by camp ironic sensibilities –​as the soup cans of his youth find a second life.45 In this Bakhtinian, carnivalizing attitude, absolute principles and purifying aesthetics would look misplaced –​too somber, arrogant and boring. My point in this seeming digression on camp and kitsch is to characterize these kinds of objects available in the fifties and sixties –​the Androck utensils with bullet handles and Dazey Ice Crushers –​as ludic, impure and replete with multiple conflicting messages. The language of these ubiquitous objects made them suitable for the masses in their rites of destruction –​neither solely negative nor positive, neither solely creative nor destructive –​symbolically saturated and contradictory, they marked many of the consumables of the era. Whimsically designed and often made of plastic, they were to be exchanged when a new model arrived. They would become things in motion: traded at a garage sale, tossed out as kitsch by the fifties elite or the sixties counterculture, and then reclaimed and collected with campy humor. Again we can position the garage sale as the more mundane middle child wedged between the uncanny and the camp, between the Surrealists and Sontag; but the cycling of objects marked the era, and the polysemic qualities of impure objects made them slyly playful.

Artists’ Response: From the Flea Market to the Garage Sale When Arman filled Iris Clert’s gallery to the brim with junk that was visible from the street, (­Figures 5-​2 and 5-​5), he made a statement about accumulation and obsolescence (before the American garage sale became a common practice) that was characteristically ambivalent in a celebratory and critical manner. By situating his work in a storefront, he both engaged issues of the spectacle and presented them in a canny critique of modernist modes of sanitized display.46 Benjamin Buchloh began much of the questioning of this moment in European art and in Arman’s production 183

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by characterizing it as waffling between the repression of historical memory and embracing of a new culture of consumption and the spectacle.47 Buchloh positions Arman’s Le Plein exhibition, with its accumulation of junk in the gallery, as rejecting the uniqueness of the readymade, the ambiguity of the objet trouvé, and the excesses of both consumerism and waste manifest in postwar marketing agendas.48 Recouping, and in its own way denigrating, postwar consumption with its cycles of excess and destruction mirrors in part strategies of the garage sale, where objects meant to be destroyed are spread on lawns and sold for a pittance. Early garage sale items were generally not unique in the sense of the bizarre, Surrealist aleatory objects, or campy finds (although I reiterate that they could be all of these things or readymades given the viewer). They are possessions in the Maussian sense in that they facilitate social interactions and have their own biographies. Or they can be collected, which, as Benjamin

Figure 5-​5  Arman collecting junk, 1960, Shunk-​Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (2014.R.20). Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender.

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so beautifully wrote, is a layered practice where: “to a true collector the acquisition of an old book is its rebirth.”49 But in the aggregate they are the mundane, mass-​produced excesses of capitalism reclaimed for an alternate purpose that both critiques obsolescence and celebrates the ability of the individual to gain a modicum of control in the everyday in the face of galloping consumerism. Arman’s reminiscences of his visit to New York express an attitude toward accumulations of merchandise suitable to the day. Landing in the city in 1961 and encountering “vitrines of vitrines,” he said goodbye to “archeological harvesting in public dumps, to anemic buys at the flea-​market. The empire of production stretches out before the hand and the eye.”50 This enthusiastic memoir, in tandem with other more critical works he produced at the time, amounts to the kind of ambivalent response that fits the culture this book describes. Like the garage sales, the capitalist economy is both extolled and denigrated in a place wedged between Surrealism and camp. In an iconoclashtic act, fit for his time, Arman exploded a white MG convertible in 1963 outside of Dusseldorf, and then exhibited its desecrated shell, the White Orchid, as a work of art marked by beauty and violence. The elegant white car mounted on a white panel and positioned upright against a white gallery wall forms an unintentional nod to the minimalist trope of white-​on-​white dating back to Malevich. The vehicle, altered by both the explosion and its new orientation, transformed the fetishized automobile into a comparable artistic commodity, creating a work, which as Buchloh points out, benefits both patron and artist. At the same time this newly marketed car, in itself the epitome of luxury automotive manufacturing, embodied both heightened consumerism and planned obsolescence. Buchloh concludes that by using the technology of war to explode the vehicle Arman submitted the body of sculpture, “to amnesia and spectacle, to repression and reminiscence.”51 I would add here that this form of ambivalent statement –​presenting beauty in destruction or acting as both bricoleur and cynicist –​forms the kind of ambivalent iconoclash that marks that moment in history. Historical and repressed memory is exhibited ambiguously as spectacle –​to quote Ballard again, it exists somewhere between Eniwetok and Luna Park. It aligns with the visual culture of destruction. 185

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Like Arman, the Chinese artist Song Dong also works with accumulation. His 2009 installation Waste Not at New  York’s The Museum of Modern Art exhibited his mother’s obsessive collecting patterns that originated with the scarcity of items in 1950s China and morphed into a form of hoarder’s neurosis. Waste Not engages varying aspects of global consumerism, from the psychological to the “schizo-​flow” process of capitalist consumption.52 Song Dong differs in some of these issues from Arman and the mindset of the postwar accumulation artists who were on the front lines of response to the new marketing strategies of excess and destruction. The postwar Canadian artist Les Levine is another case in point. For his 1966 Disposables, he used new vacuum forming machines, to reproduce thousands of sheets of plastic, that ubiquitous kitsch material of mass consumption, which he sold as mass-​produced art for a pittance in a wry commentary that both mirrored production tactics and countered them. Levine’s practice accords with other ambivalent responses to the market, from Oldenburg’s 1961 The Store to the Paul Bianchini Gallery’s 1964 Pop Art supermarket exhibition. The artist who most directly and creatively addresses the garage sale is Martha Rosler, whose performances of these communal events began in 1973 in the art gallery at the University of California, San Diego, where she was a graduate student. Subsequently, they traveled to myriad art spaces culminating in 2012, with her Meta-​Monumental Garage Sale in the atrium of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Rosler’s initial feminist work from the late sixties to early seventies famously grounded her practice in everyday objects and the home, as continued in the garage sales. In her now canonical 1975 video Semiotics of the Kitchen, using understated humor and expressive pantomime she wittily parodies women’s role in the kitchen. Discussing the revolutionary potential of humor, she mused, “I keep returning to the basic realization that I am a New York Jew, and a vaudevillian ‘shtick’ comes naturally to us as raconteurs.”53 With a deadpan expression she transforms everyday objects into potentially destructive or worthless devices and women’s habitual activities into useless rites of destruction. In Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful, 1967–​72, Rosler turns her critical eye to the domestic setting. As collaged photographs from Life, the horrific images of the Vietnam War enter the American home and 186

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Figure 5-​6  Martha Rosler, Monumental Garage Sale, 1973, University of California, San Diego, courtesy of Martha Rosler.

disturb by jarring contrasts, thereby troubling consumer capitalism in a manner reminiscent of New Wave directors like Jean-​Luc Godard, whom she admired, and fundamentally different from the tradition of the documentary photograph.54 Hers are not ambiguous iconoclashes, however, but clear messages, committed in a manner that marks much antiwar activism of the late sixties and Rosler’s work in the aggregate. What is important here in her practice, however, is the confluence of issues of feminism, domesticity, capitalism, consumerism and institutional critique which she begins in the sixties and continues in her multiple iterations of the garage sale installation. As a New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, Rosler found the West Coast suburban and small town garage sales a startling phenomenon when she encountered them as a California transplant and chose to recreate one in the early seventies. Over the years she has recorded her thoughts in various published interviews and essays. She embraced installation as a politicized art form new to the late sixties and seventies that problematized issues of connoisseurship and museology.55 Choosing to locate her sales in art spaces, and eventually in a major museum setting itself, amounted 187

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to a form of institutional critique.56 Her 1977 Travelling Garage Sale, set in La Mamelle’s garage, part of a nonprofit artist-​run space in San Francisco, aligns then with oppositional strategies anticipated by Fluxus activities or Oldenburg in The Store.57 “I wanted to bring the garage-​sale model to an art space, where questions of worth and value, use and exchange, are both glaringly placed front and center and completely repressed and denied,” Rosler explained at the time of the MoMA event.58 She reiterated this idea in a panel discussion, stressing that savvy curators now understand that the question of the commodity resided at the center of the art world.59 The sales then unite issues of women’s labor, obsolescence and institutional critique. Rosler has described her first Monumental Garage Sale, 1973, as follows: I saw the garage sale as a portrait in brief of suburban society, in which the hope of cashing in on cast-​offs, so that one might go out and consume again, led people unabashedly to expose their material lives to the scrutiny of others. I saw it as an art form of contemporary American society and determined to create such a sale in an art gallery. But my sale included many unlikely items, such as empty boxes and welfare-​commodity containers, private letters and photos, used underwear, girlie magazines, dead landscaping materials, and broken household items –​and a notebook listing the names of men. The gallery was arranged so that the brightest lighting and the best items were at the front, and the questionable, less saleable, personal, and salacious items were located further back as the lighting progressively diminished, leading finally to the empty containers and other abject items. A  tape recorder played a “meditation” by the Garage Sale “persona” –​played by me… wondering aloud what the Garage Sale represents (“Why not give it all away?”) and quoting Marx on the commodity form. A projector showed images of a white middle-​class blond family, at home and on trips, on slides bought at a local garage sale of the effects of a dead man.60

She hypothesized that people would ignore the tape, even those who came to see an artwork, in face of a bargain –​and she was right.61 There are many clear differences between Rosler’s garage sales and the actual events. Rather than interacting with neighbors, she performs the 188

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role of the garage sale entrepreneur, but in the manner of seventies feminist performance and dressed accordingly. As she wrote in a 2015 email, “My hippie attire was to allow me to build a slightly strange persona and to attach it to the art gallery in which the show/​sale was held, as well as to allow for people to think about and decide whether the possessions for sale fit that persona.” She both constructed her own identity in a form of masquerade and distanced herself in a Brechtian manner –​a strategy that aided the dialogic process with the audience.62 But her practice differs from the personal contact of an individual in a local community selling their possessions to neighbors and friends or gifting in a Maussian sense. What she accomplished instead was to problematize the issue of audience, community and public.63 While some objects were her own (given that “she” is a performed subject), others she collected in varying ways or held over from earlier sales, as much like a flea market as a garage sale. In the end the work becomes a rumination on consumption and women’s labor. The purchase of objects was, as stated above, to allow for more expenditures, and the tape playing in the background was a counterpoint to the feeding frenzy of consumption. In a 2012 interview with Sabine Breitwieser, Rosler characterized the garage sale as a meditation on capitalism and on community.64 It was more about the transactional nature of the process than the objects themselves –​about the exchange of money, the desire of the buyer, and the interaction between the purchaser and the seller.65 When I asked if the sales encouraged more consumption or functioned as a way to subvert consumption as part of an underground economy, as a sly form of antidiscipline in de Certeau’s sense, she responded: It’s not the sales that encourage more consumption, it’s the culture. The sales potentiate more consumption. The tactical anti-​ disciplinary element is surely always present in these somewhat scrutiny-​evading self-​organized trading spaces, which fall within recognizable and even sanctioned frames yet ones that do not conform to the governmental rules of commerce. The informal sector, or the gray or black economy, functions almost everywhere –​but then a business like Uber or Airbnb comes along and institutionalizes it out of all recognition, and calls it “sharing.”66

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In the museum, her garage sale became a wry commentary on the art market itself –​an issue central to her production. By situating the installations in artist spaces and presumably luring in members of the art community along with the interested public, she dramatically alters the community aspect of the garage sale itself and its grassroots role as an alternate economic model while raising other issues that align with the discourse of institutional critique. Objects in her sales are not solely the possessions of a single person and thereby generally circumvent the possibility of sharing the biography of the piece. A purchase of something on display at MOMA, therefore, raises alternate questions. Does the buyer want the object itself, or a souvenir of the exhibition, or a sample of Rosler’s art? Rosler purposefully removed her name from the title of the show but understands that people might think they are buying her art.67 The question remains as to whether a sale object is a commodity or a work of art, which initiates a fascinating but alternate discourse to the suburban garage sale beyond that of destruction and obsolescence. As one critic wrote about the 2012 sale, “When in 1973, Rosler offered her son’s baby shoes for sale, they were functional goods; today they are symbolic goods circulating in the art world.”68 If one purchased these shoes today, they might fit your child’s feet but would more likely be preserved as an “artwork.” One premise of this book is that rites of destruction are performed in both the public sphere and the art museum at the same time, but at times with a different intention. Just as artists such as Fahlström aimed to subvert capitalist competition, Rosler here follows suit, while the participants in the suburban garage sales, like those in the demolition derby, are critical and compliant at once. I asked Rosler about this: Hadler:

Rosler:

How would you characterize the differences between your sales and those of the women you observed at the time? Were these differences important for your practice? You have answered this question in other venues, by placing importance on institutional critique and the art market. Is this the main difference in your estimation –​its role as critique or fostering an awareness of the desire for goods? “Is this the main difference?” Yes, it probably is. My sale was a real sale and a meta critique. It was intended to raise 190

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questions of valuation per se, and to place them within particular markets:  daily life of households, and the art world. And, as you say, the question of desire, and commodity fetishism (the allure of objects and the basis of that allure in a monetized society).69

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Conclusion

No one who has seen Stanley Kubrick’s award winning film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, will easily forget Major Kong (Slim Pickens) mounting the phallic bomb cowboy style and riding into the “wargasm” of nuclear annihilation. This dark comedy, produced in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis and set to debut in 1963 was released in 1964, after President Kennedy’s death, to enormous success.1 Kubrick embraced the tradition of political satire where rational elements are paired with the exaggerated and absurd. He clearly intended to spoof the absurdity of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) as an effective deterrent to nuclear war and in a parallel spirit to the rising nuclear disarmament movement (a partial test ban treaty had been signed by Kennedy and Khrushchev in 1963). In fact, Peter George, the author of the 1958 book Red Alert, which inspired the film, was an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.2 Kubrick voraciously read books on nuclear war –​70 to 80 by his own count3 –​and picked the brains of the flamboyant strategist Herman Kahn, who had coined the terms “doomsday machine” and “wargasm.”4 He stated in an interview at the time that he wanted to deal with the issue dramatically, as there was unequivocally no chance to learn from experience.5

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Figure 6-​1 Slim Pickens as Major “King” Kong, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

The film counters the deep-​ rooted tradition of heroic Hollywood WWII movies with one that is at the forefront of a military critique that grew exponentially throughout the sixties. It exploits and at the same time upends the conventions of this genre with its driving narrative.6 Not surprisingly, Dr. Strangelove struck a chord with the youth, particularly those in large cities and college towns, who were poised for rebellion7 and generally responded to what has been called the new satire, which included Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel Catch-​22, the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and the comic humor of Mad magazine.8 But Strangelove had wide-​ranging appeal. As Sontag relates, both intellectuals and adolescents lionized the film, which, rather than facing picket lines was breaking box office records and garnering favorable reviews in key venues.9 Loudon Wainwright, the critic for Life magazine, reported laughing uproariously for an hour and a half at the “sheer ridiculousness” of humanity’s posture with the bomb, which, he felt, trumped any criticism as to the accuracy of its content.10 Movie critic J. Hoberman compared this sense of fun and irony to Pop Art and to a “new sentimentality.”11 And indeed the slippery humor found in Pop Art is an apt comparison.12 But Robert Brustein’s essay has the most

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relevance here when he points to Kubrick’s lack of moralizing and argues that this ambivalent stance struck a chord with the right and the left: “This is what is arrestingly new about the film: its wry, mordant, destructive, and, at the same time, cheerful, unmoralistic tone.”13 He recognized an underground spirit found in comic books and cabarets that releases the feelings of impotence and frustration that are all consuming. I would like to provide another context for understanding this film in the tangled subjectivity of the moment. Kubrick’s black comedy critiqued by parody, but the audience was well schooled in laughing at destruction as a hilarious sacrilege that teetered humorously on the edges of commitment. The riotous reception of the film, I suggest, forms yet another rite of destruction. Kubrick understood the power of satire. Although he had begun the screenplay more seriously, he made a change: My idea of doing it as a nightmare comedy came when I was trying to work on it. I found that in trying to put meat on the bones and to imagine the scenes fully one had to keep leaving things out of it which were either absurd or paradoxical, in order to keep it from being funny, and these things seemed to be very real.14

No doubt Cold War confrontations had elements of absurdity to them, and satire has a long-standing tradition as a form of criticism, but couching his critique in this kind of humor aligned him with the complex attitudes of his day. He even drew upon the problematic of play and outfitted his war room as a poker parlor, having the table covered in green, even though the film was shot in black and white. The audience was likely filled with hobbyists who competed in the game of Tactics at the advanced level for confident nuclear warriors or had tried their hand at atomic science experiments. And the humor of transgressive, sexual, cyborgian machines (phallic bombs, etc.) fits the era, too, from the demolition derby to Ballard’s crashes. As many critics have observed, the movie effectively pairs accurate realism with over-​the-​top parody –​a practice that fed two prongs of the subjectivity I have delineated in this book. And so we might ask, is the vaporization of Major Kong a constructive or destructive act? Kubrick himself opined that “cynicism should at least try to serve some constructive purpose.”15 To compare the earnestness of the game of chicken in Rebel Without a Cause with Kubrick’s uproarious vision almost a decade later is to bracket 194

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Figure 6-​2  War Room, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

once again the themes in this book. James Dean’s character embarks on a game of chicken after viewing a presentation on world destruction, but Kubrick’s characters parody the political scene. Both, however, use play and forms of humor, black or otherwise, as with so many others who performed rites of destruction in the early sixties. Major Kong rode his threatening steed to audience laughter, fathers and sons glued models of bomber planes, young men crashed cars with abandon, families played military board games, children dug up the sandbox or played in ruins, and artists created self-​destructing machines, shot at paintings, imagined new forms of interactive games, or destroyed sentences. The public participated en masse in these rites, performing the pleasurable, the perverse and the subversive in the everyday –​in a hilarious sacrilege that paired the Bikini Atoll with a new “hot” bathing suit or Strangelove’s “wargasm.” Playing with destruction allowed for a multivalent response at a transitional moment in history. One is free to laugh with or without commitment and the humor was pervasive. To quote Ballard again, “But the endless newsreel clips of 195

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nuclear explosions that we saw on TV in the 1960s (a powerful incitement to the psychotic imagination, sanctioning everything) did have a carnival air, a media phenomenon which Stanley Kubrick caught perfectly at the end of Dr. Strangelove.”16 It was Kubrick’s “nightmare comedy” writ large. For many years I visited demolition derbies in county fairs with my two small sons in tow. I also frequented flea markets and garage sales. At the same time I wrote about postwar art and culture, but this activity seemed like a radically different pursuit from my free-​time wanderings. The epiphany that I experienced when I realized the historical connection between Tinguely’s Homage to New York and the lionization of the demolition derby at the same time sparked the writing of this book. It has been one goal of this endeavor to examine postwar visual culture with a deeply aesthetic but not aestheticizing lens, and even though the intelligentsia of the day attempted to create binaries, this book contributes to the ongoing decentering of these registers. But above all it looks at rites of destruction in the postwar visual culture as ephemeral performances that work in tandem with production of art. Both arise from the formation of new subjectivities in the postwar era due in part (at least in the United States) to an ideological stance favored by the government that framed Cold War conflicts as both benign and fearful. Destruction functioned as a formative, generative process through which one learned to live and be in the world, psychically, socially and creatively. As I have argued repeatedly in this text, these rites occurred in the fairgrounds and the art museum at the same time and with a comparably complex subjectivity that performed an equally complex catharsis.

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Notes

Introduction 1 Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character” (1931), in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, ed. Peter Demetz (New York: Schocken, 1986), 302–​3. 2 Pete Townshend, Who I Am, A Memoir (New York: Harper Collins, 2012), 62. 3 J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition (San Francisco:  Re/​search Publications, 1990), 9. First published in 1970, Ballard republished this book in 1990 with annotations such as this quote. 4 Bruno Latour, “What is Iconoclash? Or is there a World beyond the Image Wars?” in Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art, eds. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Karlsruhe: ZKM. and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002), 16. Latour generally uses italics, but I will omit the italics in the word iconoclash. 5 Margaret Stratton, “Locating the Mushroom Cloud,” in Nuclear Matters (San Francisco: San Francisco Camerawork, 1991), 34. 6 Paul Fussell, Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 67. 7 Jean Cocteau, quoted in Julian Green, Diary, 1928–​1957, trans. Anne Green (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1964), 182. 8 Fussell, Understanding and Behavior, 14. 9 Lydia Csato Gasman, “Death Falling from the Sky: Picasso’s Wartime Years,” in Picasso and the War Years, 1937–​1945, ed. Steven A Nash (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998), 36. 10 Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), 599. 11 Manuel De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (New York: Swerve Editions, 1991), 111. 12 Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light, American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon Book, 1985),15. 13 See for example, Nina Felshin, Disarming Images: Art for Nuclear Disarmament (New York: Adama Books, 1984), and Sally Yard, The Shadow of the Bomb (South Hadley, MA: Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum, 1984). Kristine

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Notes to pages 8–9 Stiles’s early work on destruction dates to her dissertation, The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS): The Radical Project of Event-​Structured Art (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1987). Her new book, Concerning Consequences: Studies in Art, Destruction and Trauma (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), extends her focus on postwar trauma to more contemporary artists. 14 In 2000 I co-​chaired a session at the College Art Association with Joan Marter entitled “Art in the Nuclear Age: Fertile or Subversive Model,” and subsequently wrote the article “The Bomb in the Postwar Era: From the Sublime to Red Hot Candy,” Source: Notes in the History of Art, XXI, no. 1 (Fall 2001): 38–​43. 15 Paul Schimmel, Destroy the Picture:  Painting the Void, 1949–​1962, exh. Los Angeles:  Museum of Contemporary Art, 2013 (New  York:  Skira Rizzoli, 2012), and Kerry Brougher and Russell Ferguson, Damage Control:  Art and Destruction since 1950, exh. Hirshhorn Museum, 2013 (New  York:  Prestel, 2013). Brougher addresses aspects of the visual culture of destruction in his introductory essay, “Radiation Made Visible.” 16 Hadler, “The Bomb in the Postwar Era,” 38. For a discussion of bomb photos, see also Cécile Whiting, “Apocalypse in Paradise, Niki de Saint Phalle in Los Angeles,” Woman’s Art Journal 35, no. 1 (Spring/​Summer, 2014): 14. 17 At the time of its explosion in 1945, the bomb was in part identified with scientific exploration and progress. A messianic tone prevails as early as 1932 in the words of physicist Leo Szilard, who garnered from the science fiction of H.G. Wells that if he wanted to contribute something to “save mankind,” then he “would probably go into nuclear physics because only through the liberation of atomic energy could we obtain the means which would enable man not only to leave the earth but to leave the solar system,” Spencer R.  Weart and Gertrud Weiss Szilard, Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978), 16. 18 Vince Leo, “The Mushroom Cloud Photograph:  From Fact to Symbol,” Afterimage 13 (Summer 1985):  6–​7. See also, A.  Constandina Titus, “The Mushroom Cloud as Kitsch,” in Atomic Culture, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, eds. Scott C. Zeman and Michael A. Amundson (Boulder:  University Press of Colorado, 2004), 101–​23. Stiles in Concerning Consequences: Studies in Art, Destruction and Trauma elaborates on documentary photographs of the nuclear age, 67–​83. 19 See for example, “Cemetery is Closed,” New York Times (1923-​Current File), 5 September 1966, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times. Available at: http://​search.proquest.com.ez-​proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​ hnpnewyorktimes/​ d ocview/​ 1 17151553/​ 5 CB1E88CF4024EB6PQ/​ 1 ?accountid=7286 (accessed 7 May 2015). Rey Chow, “Fateful Attachments: On Collecting, Fidelity, and Lao She,” Critical Inquiry 28, no. 1 (Autumn

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2001): 289, contextualizes these acts of destruction to a “thing-​phobia” in the Marxist tradition. Jeffrey Weiss, “Science and Primitivism: A Fearful Symmetry in the Early New York School,” Arts Magazine 57, no. 7 (March 1983): 85–​6. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project, had greeted the first Trinity test explosion with the portentous words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Theodore Roszak, interview with Harlan B. Phillips, 1963, in Theodore Roszak Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 476. For cosmic imagery in Jackson Pollock’s work, see Kirsten A. Hoving, “Jackson Pollock’s ‘Galaxy’: Outer Space an Artist’s Space in Pollock’s Cosmic Paintings,” American Art 16, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 82–​93. Michael Leja, Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). See, for example, Laura McEnaney, Civil Defense Begins at Home: Militarization Meets Everyday Life in the Fifties (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). Paul Boyer discusses this guide in “The United States, 1941–​63: A Historical Overview,” in Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940–​ 1960, ed. Brooke Kamin Rapaport (New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2002), 58. See Tom Vanderbilt, Survival City, Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002). See also, Paul Virilio, Bunker Archeology (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1997) (first published in 1975). Jerome F. Shapiro, Atomic Bomb Cinema, The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film (New York: Routledge, 2002), 2, 6. Susan Sontag, “Imagination of Disaster,” 1965, in her Against Interpretation and Other Essays (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, l966), 225. This essay sparked a lively debate on science-​fiction literature. For example, news of the Japanese fishing vessel, The Lucky Dragon #5, that was hit by the fallout from nuclear testing in 1954 made its way into the press; Waldemar Kaempfert, “Precautions against Fallout are Elaborate in Current Test Site of H-​Bomb in Bikini,” New York Times, 20 May 1956, E11, 203. Available at: proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​hnpnewyorktimes/​docview/​ 113835024/​pageviewPDF/​A727EB5DE97C4646PQ/​4?accountid=7286 (accessed 14 September 2015). Martha Rosler, answer to a questionnaire on obsolescence, October 100 (Spring 2002): 7. For a discussion of the speech, see Spencer R. Weart, Nuclear Fear, A History of Images (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 158.

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Notes to pages 12–15 31 Michael Sorkin, “War is Swell,” in World War II and the American Dream, How Wartime Building Changed a Nation, ed. Donald Albrecht (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1995), 242. 32 Heinz Haber, The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend the Atom (New York: Dell, 1956), 113. See also Spencer R. Weart’s chapter on good and bad atoms in The Rise of Nuclear Fear (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), and my article, “The Bomb in the Postwar Era,” 42. 33 See Timothy Brown and Lorena Anton, Between the Avant-​Garde and the Everyday: Subversive Politics in Europe 1957 to the Present (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011) for essays on the interrelationship of the youth and counterculture to the politics of the sixties. 34 Ercole Arnaud, First Manifesto of Nuclear Literature, 3 February 1952, cited in Sidra Stitch, Yves Klein 1928–​1962 (London: Hayward Gallery, 1994), 84. In America as well, while the Beat poets raged against the bomb, artists such as Kenneth Snelson greeted atomic research with a degree of optimism and used it as a model of artistic creation. His decades-​long project, Portrait of an Atom, dates to 1960. Envisioning how electrons might spin out around the nucleus of an atom paralleled the sculptor’s exploration of space. See Joelle Burrows, Kenneth Snelson:  The Nature of Structure (New  York:  Academy of Sciences, 1989), 8. 35 Kerry Brougher, “Radiation Made Visible,” in Brougher and Ferguson, Damage Control, 41, makes this point, positing that atomic man might be seen as a monster. 36 For his thesis on Cold War visuality, see John J.  Curley, A Conspiracy of Images:  Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and the Art of the Cold War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). 37 Yves Klein, “Letter to the International Conference for the detection of Atomic Explosions,” in Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, trans. Klaus Ottmann (Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, 2007), 28. See also Brougher, “Radiation Made Visible,” 44. 38 For more on the dialectical relationship of construction and destruction, see Schimmel, “Painting the Void,” in his Destroy the Picture, 188. 39 Julia Bryan-​ Wilson, “Remembering Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece.’ ” Oxford Art Journal 26, no. 1 (2003). 40 Barbara Haskell and John G.  Hanhardt, Yoko Ono, Objects and Arias (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1991), 91. 41 See Bryan-​Wilson’s discussion, “Remembering Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece.’ ” 42 Pete Townshend, Who I Am, 3. 43 Ibid., 4. 44 Ibid., 6. 45 Caroline Jones, “Making Abstraction,” in Latour & Weibel, eds., Iconoclash, 412.

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Notes to pages 15–20 46 Latour, “What is Iconoclash?”, 22. 47 Dario Gamboni, “Image to Destroy, Indestructible Image,” in Latour & Weibel, eds., Iconoclash, 88. 48 See for example, Mark Reinhardt, “Picturing Violence:  Aesthetics and The Anxiety of Critique,” in Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain, eds. Mark Reinhardt, Holly Edwards and Erina Duganne (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 13–​36. 49 Latour, “What is Iconoclash?”, 22. 50 Townshend, Who I Am, 4. 51 Latour, “What is Iconoclash?”, 16. 52 Ibid., 26. 53 Ibid., 38. 54 Ibid., 22. 55 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), xvii. 56 Ben Highmore, “Introduction, Questioning Everyday Life,” in The Everyday Life Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), 13. 57 See Kristine Stiles on Fluxus humor, “Between Water and Stone,” in Elizabeth Armstrong and Joan Rothfuss, In the Spirit of Fluxus (Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1993), 77. 58 See Cécile Whiting’s discussion of the residual effects of WWII on California artists in the early sixties, in “California War Babies, Picturing World War II in the 1960s,” Art Journal 69, no. 3 (Fall, 2010): 40–​61. 59 See for example, Joan Marter, Abstract Expressionism:  The International Context (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007), and Cold War Kitchen: Americanization, Technology and European Users, eds. Ruth Oldenziel and Karin Zachmann (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011). 60 “Gustav Metzger in conversation with Clive Phillpot,” Gustav Metzger Decades: 1959–​2009, Julia Peyton-​Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist (London: The Serpentine Gallery, 2009), 2. 61 Jane Arthurs, and Iain Grant, eds. Crash Cultures: Modernity, Mediation and the Material. (Bristol, UK: Intellect Ltd., 2002), 2. ProQuest ebrary. Web, (accessed 28 September 2015). 62 John Urry’s many writings address this concept. See, for example, “The System of Automobility,” in Automobilities, eds. Mike Featherstone, Nigel Thrift and John Urry (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 2006). 63 For example, Marta Gutman and Ning de Coninck-​Smith, Designing Modern Childhoods, History Space and the Material Culture of Childhood (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 11 and passim. See also the introduction to Materiality, ed. Daniel Miller (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 1–​50.

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Notes to pages 20–23 64 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-​ Halton, The Meaning of Things, Domestic Symbols and the Self (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981), x. 65 Ibid., 17. 66 Ibid., 16. Bruno Latour offers the notion of the hybrid gun/​man in “On Technical Mediation-​Philosophy, Sociology, Genealogy,” Common Knowledge 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994): 33. 67 Graham Harman, Prince of Networks, Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (Melbourne, AU: re-​press, 2009), 17. 68 Ibid., 14. 69 Daniel Miller, ed., Car Cultures (Oxford: Berg, 2001), 2. 70 See Arjun Appadurai’s introduction to The Social Life of Things, Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 1986). 71 Igor Kopytoff, “The Cultural Biography of Things:  Commodification as Process,” in Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things, 64 72 I use Jaimey Hamilton Faris’s terms here, in Uncommon Goods, Global Dimensions of the Readymade (Bristol, UK: Intellect Ltd, 2013), 8. 73 To survey these approaches, see for example the many writings and anthologies edited by Nicholas Mirzoeff such as the The Visual Culture Reader, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2012). 74 David Joselit, Feedback: Television Against Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), 31. I often use terms like mass culture and popular culture interchangeably although they too have their own separate literatures and meanings. See, for example, the essays in Popular Culture, A Reader, eds. Raiford Guins & Omayra Zaragoza Cruz (London: Sage Publishing Inc, 2005). 75 See, for example, Marita Sturken, Tourists of History, Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Durham, NC:  Duke University Press, 2007), for tourism and violence in the late twentieth century through 9/​11. 76 Nicholas J. Saunders, ed., Matters of Conflict: Material culture, memory and the First World War (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), 5. 77 Julia Bryan-​Wilson, Art Workers:  Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). 78 Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White, eds., Mass Culture: the Popular Arts in America (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1957). Their writings align with Theodor Adorno’s critique of mass culture. The intelligentsia championed the Abstract Expressionist painters, whose practice represented the elite just as mass culture remained modernism’s subversive other. On the other hand, in the wake of postmodernist criticism and the aftermath of the controversial 1990 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, High & Low: Modern Art and

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Notes to pages 23–32 Popular Culture, many authors have revisited the territory and destabilized this arbitrary binary. Some have contextualized Greenberg’s pronouncements while others have argued for the abstract artist’s attraction to the vulgar and the commercial (Willem de Kooning’s paintings of women come to the fore in this regard). Others investigate broader issues of subjectivity such as T.J. Clark’s study of the group in relation to questions of bourgeois taste and the vulgar. See Clark’s essay, “In Defense of Abstract Expressionism,” October 69 (Summer 1994): 22–​48. 79 Reyner Banham, “The Atavism of the Short-​Distance Mini-​Cyclist,” in ed. Penny Sparke, Reyner Banham, Design by Choice (New York: Rizzoli, 1981), 85. Dwight Macdonald was the influential editor of Partisan Review in the thirties and Politics in the forties. 80 See Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV: The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the l950s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994), 50–​86. 81 See, for example, Jeannie Banks Thomas’s discussion in Naked Barbies, Warrior Joes, & Other Forms of Visible Gender (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2005), 134–​75. 82 Stanley Kubrick, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema,” ed. Robin Bean, Films and Filming 9 (June 1963): 12. 83 Curley, A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and the Art of the Cold War.

Chapter 1: The Demolition Derby 1 Frank M. Blunk, “Demolition Derby Is Smash Hit Along the Auto Racing Circuit,” New  York Times, 18 August 1963, 160. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times. Available at: http://​search.proquest.com. ezproxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​hnpnewyorktimes/​docview/​116294975/​ 3AFAEB44E78C4FC3PQ/​1?accountid=7286 (accessed 23 July 2011). This chapter draws upon my article, “Demolition Derby:  A  Study of Destruction,” Journal of the Society for Commercial Archeology 30, no.  2 (Fall 2012): 8–​15. 2 Internet entries place the sport in various countries in the sixties and seventies, for example, in Germany in 1970, which can be linked to the spread of American mass culture. Kristin Ross charts the discourse of speed and the automobile in postwar France in relation to modernization, Americanization and colonialism in Fast Cars, Clean Bodies, Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995). In the British version of the sport, called Banger racing, cars race around a track but are allowed to crash or disable their competitors in order to win. The goal, however, is not the crash itself.

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Notes to pages 32–35 3 “Demolition Drivers to Make an Instant Junkyard Today to Music (Din) of Mendelsohn (Promoter),” New York Times, 18 September 1966, 221, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New  York Times. Available at:  http://​search. proquest.com.ezproxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​hnpnewyorktimes/​results/​ 7365C21BB44D3PQ/​1?accountid=7286 (accessed 23 July 2011). 4 Calvin Tomkins, The Bride and the Bachelors, Five Masters of the Avant-​Garde (New York: Viking Press, 1965), 178–​9. 5 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1972) (first published 1957), 88. The quote continues, “I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.” 6 Tom Wolfe, “Clean Fun at Riverhead,” 1963, reprinted in Wolfe, The Kandy-​ Kolored Tangerine-​ Flake Streamline Baby (New  York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) (first published 1965), 31–​2. According to Wolfe, Mendelsohn got the idea for the derby in 1958 when someone crashed into his stock-​car and the crowds went wild with enthusiasm, 29. 7 “Demolition Drivers to Make an Instant Junkyard of Islip Speedway,” 221. 8 William Barry Furlong, “ ‘Wild World of Sports’-​Some Hits Some Errors,” The New York Times, 19 April 1981. Available at: http://​www.nytimes.com/​1981/​04/​ 19/​arts/​wild-​world-​of-​sports-​some-​hits-​some-​errors.html?pagewanted=all (accessed 10 July 2015). Wide World of Sports aired the show at least as early as 16 November 1963, televising a 200-​car championship at Langhorne PA, “Navy-​Duke Game On Television,” The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959–​ 1973); 16 November 1963; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post, D1. The same event appeared in the New York Times listings for the same date. I thank Mark Quigley from the UCLA Film and Television Archive for these references. 9 Larry Mendelsohn, quoted in, Jerald Posman, “Careful Driver is King of Wreckers,” Special to the New  York Times, Islip, L.I., 26 July 1964, Proquest Historical Newspapers, S17. Available at:  S17 http://​search.proquest.com. ezproxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​hnpnewyorktimes/​docview/​115853055/​ 8A3BF9C3E1994541PQ/​1?accountid=7286 (accessed 23 July 2011). 10 Itai Vardi, “Auto Thrill Shows and Destruction Derbies 1922–​1965: Establishing the Cultural Logic of the Deliberate Car Crash in America,” Journal of Social History 45, no. 1 (2011): 20–​46. He even records some early destruction crashes such as one called a “demolition derby” in 1939 performed by auto track racing association’s “Helldrivers.” Oakland Tribune, 11 September 1939. 11 Vardi makes this point too, “Auto Thrill Shows,” n. 40. 12 Bill Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, Demolition Derby (Revere, PA: Back Street Books, 2005), 91–​2. See Vardi, “Auto Thrill Shows,” n. 32, for listings.

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Notes to pages 35–36 In looking through Billboard, I found their appearance in the late fifties, for example, in fairs held on 2 July 1955 in Denver, CO and 2 June 1956 in Agawan, MA. Available at: https://​books.google.com/​books/​about/​Billboard. html?id=pBQEAAAAMBAJ (accessed 1 October 2015). 13 Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, 91. 14 Author’s telephone conversation with Marty Himes, 25 October 2015. The derby, he maintained, was a totally different sport from auto thrills acts in the sixties. 15 Martin S.  James, “Léger at Rouses Point, 1944:  A  Memoir,” The Burlington Magazine 130, no. 1021 (April 1988): 278. 16 Alison and Peter Smithson, “Letter to America,” in Ordinariness and Light, Urban theories 1952–​1960 and their application in a building project 1963–​1970 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1970), 139. 17 Jill Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 1960s France, and the Neo-​ avant-​ garde, Topographies of Chance and Return (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), 28. 18 Alfred P. Sloan Jr., My Years with General Motors (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., l964), 277. 19 David Gartman, Auto Opium, A Social History of American Automotive Design (New  York:  Routledge, 1994), 108. See Sally Clarke’s article nuancing this narrative and demonstrating the complex interplay between style and market forces at General Motors in the thirties, “Managing Design: The Art and Colour Section at General Motors, 1927–​1941,” Journal of Design History 12, no. 1 (1999): 65–​79. 20 Raymond Loewy, “Jukeboxes on Wheels,” Atlantic Monthly, 195 (April 1955): 36. 21 Reyner Banham, “Design by Choice,” first written in 1961, in Penny Sparke, ed., Reyner Banham, Design by Choice, 102. 22 “Demolition Drivers to Make an Instant Junkyard of Islip Speedway,” 221. 23 Vardi argues that prewar automotive crashes were reactive to planned obsolescence stating that “it is important to stress that at least on some level of sense-​making this strategy served as a linchpin between practices of symbolic and real destruction…” in his “Auto Thrill Shows and Destruction Derbies 1922–​1965,” 28. I concur, adding that as the number of manufactured automobiles grew in the postwar era and the designs blossomed into quasi-​fanciful gendered warplanes, the response to obsolescence was ever greater, if more transgressive and carnivalesque. 24 Mark Humphrey explains in detail the many ways the cars are altered at the time of the book’s publication, Demolition Derby, 2nd ed. (Eau Claire, WI: Heins Publications, 1998). For an example of the rules for a 2011 derby, see http://​ www.fcfair.org/​wordpress/​wp-​content/​uploads/​2011/​04/​2011-​Hilliard-​Derby. pdf. (accessed 23 July 2011).

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Notes to pages 36–40 25 Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, 6–​7. 26 Kurt von Meier, “Violence, Art and the American Way,” Artscanada 25, no. 1 (April 1968): 51. 27 Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, 7, reviews many strategies involved. 28 Posman, “Careful Driver is King of Wreckers.” 29 Gerald Eskenazi, “Bang, Crash, It’s a Sport in Freeport,” New York Times, 5 September 1971, BQ49. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Available at: http://​ search.proquest.com.ez-​proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/​hnpnewyorktimes/​ docview/​119212730/​355B0E15076B4EC3PQ/​1?accountid=7286 (accessed 23 July, 2011). 30 Jeffrey T. Schnapp, “Crash (Speed as Engine of Individuation),” Modernism/​ Modernity 6, no. 1 (1999): 2. 31 See chapter two, subtitled “The Automobile as Silent Slapstick,” in Karen Beckman, Crash, Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 55–​105. Beckman looks at cinema crashes using Frankfurt School media theory, the discourse of speed and disaster associated with Paul Virilio and with Futurism, and the psychoanalytic discourse of “the drive.” 32 A popular television advertisement by Howard Zieff for the American Motor’s Rebel (1969) featured a comic scenario of a harried instructor and student driver crashing into a fire hydrant. See, Ann Farmer, “The Real Mad Men,” available at:  http://​www.dga.org/​Craft/​DGAQ/​All-​Articles/​0901-​Spring-​2009/​Television-​ The-​Real-​Mad-​Men.aspx (accessed 15 July 2015). Lincoln Diamant, in Television’s Classic Commercials, The Golden Years, 1948–​1958 (New York: Hastings House, Publishers, 1971), 217, credits the humor of this well-​known ad with relieving the pomposity of fifties television automotive advertisements. 33 Eskenazi, “Bang, Crash, It’s a Sport in Freeport.” 34 Michael T. Marsden, “The County Fair as Celebration and Cultural Text,” The Journal of American Culture 33, no. 1 (March 2010): 27. 4H relates to a government sponsored youth program popular in rural areas of the United States. 35 Latour, “What is Iconoclash?,” 17. 36 Discussion with driver Chad King, 6 August 2011, Franklin County Fair, Malone, NY. 37 Discussion with an anonymous mechanic, 22 July 2012, Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, NY. 38 Discussion with anonymous onlooker, 16 July 2013, Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, NY. 39 Jeff Savage, Demolition Derby (Minneapolis: Capstone Press, 1995), 37. 40 Tim O’Brien, “Target Demolition Aiming to Bring Back Fun, Locals,” Amusement Business (20 January 1997): 33. 41 Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, 1, 8.

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Notes to pages 40–44 42 43 44 45 46

Latour, “What is Iconoclash?,” 17. Kopytoff, “The Cultural Biography of Things,” 67. Ibid., 68. Ibid., 83. Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, vol. 1 (New York: Zone Books, 1989), 69. The text first appeared in France in 1967. Bryan-​Wilson, “Remembering Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece,’ ” 112, reviews here some of the contested readings of the notion of the gift in Derrida and Bourdieu. 47 Bataille, The Accursed Share, 70. 48 Aurian Haller, “Art of the demolition derby: gender, space and antiproduction,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 21, no. 6 (2003): 766, 769. For a discussion of Haller’s essay, see also my article, “Demolition Derby: A Study in Destruction.” 49 Richard Conniff, “Crash, Boom Slam: The Demolition Derby is an American Institution,” Smithsonian 29, no. 10 (January 1999): 92. 50 See Susan Falls, “ ‘Redneck Customs’: Race and Class at the Demolition Derby,” in Leisure Studies 32, no.  4 (2013). Whereas chroniclers (including myself) consistently note the blue-​collar constituency of the derby, Vardi does show that some auto thrill shows were held in urban settings to more mixed audiences, in his “Auto Thrill Shows and Destruction Derbies 1922–​1965,” 26. 51 Haller, “Art of the demolition derby: gender, space and antiproduction,” 773. 52 Caillois, Man, Play and Games,” trans. Meyer Barash (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001)(first published in 1958), 5. 53 Csikszentmihalyi, The Meaning of Things, 49. 54 Robert Jewett and John Lawrence, “Norm Demolition Derbies:  The Rites of Reversal in Popular Culture,” Journal of Popular Culture 9, no.  4 (Spring 1976): 976. 55 Susan Falls “ ‘Redneck Customs’:  Race and Class at the Demolition Derby,” 429, 435. 56 Haller, “Art of the demolition derby: gender, space and antiproduction,” 763–​4. 57 Smith loved the company of male welders and affected a working class machismo. 58 See, for example, Ben A. Shackleford, “Masculinity, the Auto Racing Fraternity and the Technological Sublime, The Pit Stop as a Celebration of Social Roles,” in Boys and Their Toys? Masculinity, Technology, and Class in America, ed. Roger Horowitz (New York: Routledge, 2001). He argues that these sports offer a combination of danger and mastery of technology in a world where technology, at least in the form of a nuclear holocaust, is unmanageable, 247. 59 Demolition Derby advertisement from the sixties, A Visual History of the Islip Speedway. Available at:  http://​www.melaniff.com/​speedway/​history/​history4. htm (accessed 15 July 2014).

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Notes to pages 44–49 60 Anonymous conversation overheard by John Maciuika, 6 August 2011, Franklin County Fair, Malone, NY. 61 Dick Hebdige, Hiding in the Light, On Images and Things (New York: Routledge, 1988), 71. 62 Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New York: Routledge, 1987) (first published 1979). The derby is one subcultural phenomenon that has not been excessively commercialized. 63 Lowenburg, Crash, Burn, Love, 1. 64 Featherstone, in Automobilities, 1. 65 Urry, in Automobilities, 26. His main focus was on systems of interconnectivity in the global world. 66 See, for example, Joselit’s discussion in Feedback: Television Against Democracy, 37. 67 Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996) (first published 1964), 217. 68 Charissa Terranova, Automotive Prosthetic, Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), 28. 69 McLuhan, Understanding Media, 225. 70 See Thomas Crow, The Long March of Pop: Art Music and Design 1930–​1995 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 177–​9, for the postwar context of this advertising campaign. 71 Advertisement in Scientific American 200 no. 2 (22 February 1959): 159. 72 See Mona Hadler, “Lee Bontecou’s Worldscapes,” in Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective, ed. Elizabeth A.T. Smith (Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003). 73 Manfred E.  Clynes and Nathan S.  Kline, “Cyborgs and Space,” Astronautics (September 1960), reprinted in The Cyborg Handbook, ed. Chris Hables Gray (New York: Routledge, 1995), 29. 74 See Jane Pavitt and David Crowley, “The Hi-​Tech Cold War,” in Cold War Modern, Design 1945–​1970 (London:  V& A  Publishing, 2008), 180. Rod Serling’s popular television series The Twilight Zone, beginning in 1959, often trafficked in such complexities reclaiming the outlandish with a moral twist. 75 Nicholas de Monchaux, Spacesuit, Fashioning Apollo (Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2011), 228. 76 Donna J. Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-​ Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” (1985), in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 151. See also, Mona Hadler, “Lee Bontecou and Drawing:  From the Real to the Strange,” Woman’s Art Journal 35, no. 1 (Spring/​Summer 2014): 23–​32. 77 Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto,” 154. 78 Ibid., 181.

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Notes to pages 49–55 79 Whiting, “Apocalypse in Paradise: Niki de Saint Phalle in Los Angeles,” 14. 80 Hadler, “Lee Bontecou’s Worldscapes.” 81 Jo Applin, “ ‘This Threatening and Possibly Functioning Object’: Lee Bontecou and the Sculptural Void,” Art History 29, no. 3 (June 2006): 476. Applin compares Bontecou and Saint Phalle, 486. See also her chapter on Bontecou in Applin, Eccentric Objects, Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012): 13–​41. 82 Barthes, “The New Citroen,” Mythologies, 90. 83 J.G. Ballard, Crash (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1973), 99. 84 J.G. Ballard, Miracles of Life, Shanghai to Shepperton, An Autobiography (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2008), 215. 85 Karal Ann Marling, “Organic Glitz, Designing Popular Culture in the Postwar Era,” Vital Forms: American Art in the Atomic Age 1940–​1960 (New York: Brooklyn Museum, 2001), 211. 86 John Keats, The Insolent Chariots (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1958), 71. 87 Ibid., 72–​5, discusses this idea and relates it to the writings of Ernest Dichter, the President of the Institute for Motivational Research. See also Marling, As Seen on TV, 356. 88 Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, Folklore of Industrial Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1951), 84. Terranova, in Automotive Prosthetic, makes significant connections between the 1950s writings of Barthes and McLuhan, 48. 89 Miller, Car Cultures, 15. 90 Ballard, Miracles of Life, 218. 91 Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition, 1990, 97. 92 Vardi discusses the issue of auto safety in relationship to the deliberate crashes of the twenties and thirties in “Auto Thrill Shows and Destruction Derbies 1922–​1965.” 93 Jasper Johns’s flags from the mid-​fifties embody an equally complex response to nationalism. As Fred Orton writes, they are both patriotic and nonpatriotic, abstract and representational, sign and referent, pure positivity and pure negativity, etc. See Orton’s Figuring Jasper Johns (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1996), 146. 94 Curley, A Conspiracy of Images, 180–​2. 95 Hal Foster, Return of the Real (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), 130–​6. See also Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 92. 96 Hal Foster, “Death in America,” 1996, reprinted in Andy Warhol, ed. Annette Michelson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 80. 97 Michael Rothberg, Traumatic Realism:  The Demands of Holocaust Representation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 109. 98 Hannah Arendt, “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” The New  Yorker (16 February 1963).

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Notes to pages 55–57 99 See Judith F. Rodenbeck, Radical Prototypes, Allen Kaprow and the Invention of Happenings (Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2011), 200, on Jim Dines and Freud. 100 McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 100. 101 See Rodenbeck’s chapter in Radical Prototypes, 175–​207, where she reads this work through the lens of trauma theory and in relation to car crashes in the work of Andy Warhol and Wolf Vostell. 102 Susan Sontag, “Happenings:  An Art of Radical Juxtaposition,” in Against Interpretation, 274. 103 See Boris Groys on the subject, quoted in, “A Genealogy of Participatory Art,” in The Art of Participation, 1950 to Now, ed. Rudolph Frieling (London: Thames and Hudson, with San Francisco Museum of Art, 2008), 27 and Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984). 104 Wolfe, “Clean Fun at Riverhead,” 33. 105 Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa, New York, 16 July 2013. 106 Fernand Léger, Functions of Painting, trans. Alexandra Anderson, ed. Edward F. Fry (New York: Viking Press, 1965), 177. See also Haller, “Art of the demolition derby: gender, space and antiproduction,” 772. 107 Phyllis Tuchman, “An Interview with John Chamberlain,” Artforum 10, no. 6 (February 1972): 39. Irving Sandler, as early as 1960, described Chamberlain’s sculptures as “mangled body parts” and “mordant comments on the wreckage of industrial civilization,” but hastened to add that Chamberlain “does not seem interested in such allusions,” in “Reviews and Previews:  John Chamberlain,” Art News 58, no. 9 (January 1960): 18. 108 See Jaimey Hamilton’s argument in “Arman’s System of Objects,” The Art Journal 67, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 55–​67. 109 See Liz Kotz, Words to be Looked At, Language in 1960’s Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), 74–​5, and her discussion of the event in ­chapter 2. 110 For the directions of the event see http://​www.moma.org/​collection/​works/​ 136307?locale=en (accessed 1 March 2016). 111 Douglas Kahn, “The Latest: Fluxus and Music,” in Elizabeth Armstrong and Joan Rothfuss, In the Spirit of Fluxus (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1993), 114–​5. 112 For information on this recording, DFS-​7034, see:  http://​www.discogs.com/​ No-​Artist-​Stock-​Car-​Demolition-​Derby-​Sound-​Effects/​release/​4065407 (accessed 14 August 2014). Audio Fidelity Inc. was a U.S. company founded in 1954 and famous for stereo records featuring sound effects. In 1971 the company released a record called “Sound Effects in Stereo,” which included the sound of a car crash as well as ordinary life sounds such as shoveling snow. See: http://​ www.discogs.com/​No-​ Artist-​ S ound-​ E ffects-​ In-​ Stereo/​ release/​ 2 743041

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Notes to pages 57–61 (accessed 14 August 2014). Although the record appears to be pitched to a special effects market, its similarity to Fluxus music is intriguing. David Grubbs, musician and sound art historian writes, “My sense is that a record such as this wouldn’t have participated in avant-​garde or experimental-​music circles in its day; rather it would have been purchased by someone wanting to show off their state-​of-​the-​art stereo hi-​fi –​and perhaps also by demolition derby fans” email communication with the author, 14 August 2014. It is interesting to note here that Futurist Luigi Russolo’s 1913 “The Art of Noise Futurist Manifesto,” was translated by Fluxus artists Robert Filou, ubu classics and published in 1967 in Something Else Press. 113 Townshend, Who I Am, A Memoir, 63. 114 Meiko Shomi’s Boundary Music, from 1963, is relevant here. 115 See Branden W. Joseph, Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-​ Avant-​Garde (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 22. 116 I discuss Fluxus, Cage, Ono and Metzger in my earlier article, “Demolition Derby, A Study in Destruction,” 12–​3. 117 From George Maciunas, “Fluxus Manifesto,” 1963, reprinted in Achille Bonito Oliva, Ubi Fluxus/​ibi motus 1990–​1962 (Milan: Mazzotta, 1990), 219. 118 Andreas Huyssen illustrates a nuclear drill and describes the dual role of chance at the time as both life affirming and life destroying when applied to nuclear holocaust, Twilight Memories Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (Routledge:  New  York, 1995), 205. See also Julia Bryan-​Wilson, “Remembering Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece,’ ” 105–​6. 119 Ortiz, telephone interview with the author, 17 November 2015. He remembered frequent visits and conversations with Huelsenbeck. Ortiz said that he felt closer to the Dadaist tradition than to Fluxus artists. 120 Arthur Janov, The Primal Scream:  Primal Therapy, The Cure for Neurosis (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), 9–​11. 121 Kristine Stiles, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Years of the Warrior 1960, Years of the Psyche, 1988 (New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1988), 10. 122 Rafael Montañez Ortiz, “Destructivism a Manifesto,” 1962, in Stiles, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, 52. 123 Ortiz, telephone interview. 124 Ortiz in Yasmin Ramirez, “An Interview with the Destructive Artist, Raphael Montañez Ortiz,” in Unmaking: The Work of Raphael Montañez Ortiz (Trenton, NJ: Jersey City Museum, 2007), 21. 125 Ortiz, telephone interview. 126 Ralph Ortiz, “A letter to Mario Amaya,” in Art and Artists 1, no. 5 (August 1966): 62. Ortiz has used different versions of his name over the years. 127 Kurt von Meier, “Violence, Art and the American Way,” 23. Von Meier ends the article praising Cage and quotes him advocating revolution.

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Notes to pages 62–69 128 Pamela M. Lee, Chromophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960’s (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), 134. 129 Gustav Metzger, Damaged Nature, Auto-​Destructive Art (London: Coracle, 1996, 60), quote from his 1961 manifesto. Metzger wrote three manifestos on auto-​destructive art, in 1959, 1960 and 1961. 130 Ibid., 49, from Metzger’s 1995 lecture. 131 Ibid., 55. 132 Townshend, Who I Am, A Memoir, 64. 133 Ibid., 62. 134 Russell Ferguson, “The Show is Over,” in Brougher and Ferguson, Damage Control, 125. 135 This form of destruction was international. Mexican artist Alejandro Jodorowsky also destroyed a piano as an act of creative destruction in 1967. 136 See Peter Frank, Something Else Press, An Annotated Bibliography, A documentext publication (New Paltz, NY: McPherson & Company, 1983), 16. 137 Wolf Vostell, “statement” 1965, dé-​coll/​age, trans. Laura P.  Williams (New York: Something Else Press, 1966), 1. 138 Ibid., 2. 139 Kristine Stiles, “The Story of the Destruction in Art Symposium and the ‘Dias affect,’ ” in ed. Sabine Breitwieser Gustav Metzger, Geschichte Geshichte (Vienna & Ostfildern-​Ruit: Generali Foundation and Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005), 1. Available at: https://​web.duke.edu/​art/​stiles/​KristineStilesDIAS_​ Affect-​2.pdf (accessed, 18 July 2014). 140 Ibid., 12. 141 Ibid., 13. 142 See Brougher and Ferguson, Damage Control catalogue for an extensive discussion and illustration of this genre. 143 de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, xvii. 144 The British critic Reyner Banham describes frequenting the speedway when he chronicles his working class origins in the thirties, “The Atavism of the short-​distance mini-​cyclist,” 84. 145 Engineer Billy Klüver, Tinguely’s collaborator, recorded his remembrances in “The Garden Party,” in K.G. Pontus Hultén, The Machine: As Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1968), 171. 146 Lee, Chromophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s, 89.

Chapter 2: Military Games of Destruction 1 Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955) (first published in 1938), 13. 2 Roger, Caillois, Man, Play and Games, 5.

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Notes to pages 69–71 3 See for example, Martin van Creveld, Wargames, From Gladiators to Gigabytes (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 1. 4 Huizinga, Homo Ludens, 8. 5 Masahiro Mori, “The Uncanny Valley,” Energy 7, no.  4 (1970):  33–​5, trans. Karl MacDorman and Norri Kageki. Available at:  http://​spectrum.ieee.org/​ automaton/​robotics/​humanoids/​the-​uncanny-​valley (accessed 20 July 2014). Mori’s focus was on robotics and the human being and later turned more in this direction drawing a connection between robotics and Buddhism, in The Buddha in the Robot (Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Co, 1974) (first English edition 1981, trans. Charles S. Terry). 6 Van Creveld, Wargames, 5. 7 Caillois, Man, Play and Games, 22. 8 Ibid. 9 Csikszentmihalyi argues for the positive and life-​affirming aspect of play and uses the word “flow” for the “holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement.” Play is the “flow experience par excellence.” he maintains, in Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, Experiencing Flow in Work and Play (San Francisco: Jossey-​Bass Publishers, 1975, 25th anniversary edition, 2000), 36–​7. It accords with Henri Lefebvre’s 1960 “theory of moments,” as ephemeral and unique instants that intensify “the vital productively of everydayness, its capacity for communication, for information, and also and above all for pleasure in natural and social life.” Henri Lefebvre, La Somme et le Reste in the epigraph to “The Theory of Moments and the Construction of Situations,” Internationale Situationniste no. 4 (June 1960): 10–​1. See Claire Bishop’s discussion in Artificial Hells, Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012), 85–​6. 10 Brian Sutton-​Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), and Greg Costikyan, Uncertainty in Games (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002). 11 Costikyan, Uncertainty in Games, 2. 12 Andrew Fluegelman, ed., The New Games Book (New York: Doubleday & Co, 1976), 9. See also Pamela M. Lee, New Games, Postmodernism after Contemporary Art (New York: Routledge, 2013), 102–​12. 13 Guy Debord “Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play,” Internationnale Situationnist, no.  1 (June 1958), trans. Reuben Keehan. Available at:  http://​ www.cddc.vt.edu/​sionline/​si/​play.html (accessed 18 July 2015). 14 See Libero Andreotti, “Play-​tactics of the ‘Internationale Situationniste,’ ” October 91 (Winter 2000): 36–​58 for more on Debord’s complicated relationship to Huizinga, agonistic play and urbanism. Debord actually spent a great deal of his later life devising and producing a war game in the tradition of Kriegsspiel. He later published (in 1987) the game in a co-​authored book with his wife, Alice Becker-​Ho, which appeared in English as A Game

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Notes to pages 71–74 of War, trans. Donald Nicholson-​Smith (London: Atlas Press, 2007). Debord concludes that the game portrays the dialectics of all conflict (p. 26). In a 2006 historical note (p. 7), Becker-​Ho reviews the history of Debord and war games. In 1965 he patented a war game (invented in 1955, she asserts), and in 1977 he cofounded a company for the design, manufacturing and marketing of games. In 1991 Debord destroyed all copies of the book, which is now republished. 15 Thomas B. Allen, War Games, Inside the Secret World of the Men Who Play at World War III (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1987), 43. 16 Van Creveld, Wargames, 177. 17 Herbert Goldhamer and Hans Speier, “Some Observations on Political Gaming,” 30 April 1959, Rand documents, P-​1679-​RC. Available at:  http://​www.rand. org/​pubs/​authors/​g/​goldhamer_​herbert.html (accessed 21 September 2014). 18 Andrew Wilson, The Bomb and the Computer, A Crucial History of War Games (New  York:  Delacorte Press, 1968), 68. For a fascinating primary document outlining the pros and cons of military gaming, see Herman Kahn and Irving Mann, “War Gaming,” 30 July 1957, Rand documents, P-​1167. Available at:  http://​www.rand.org/​pubs/​papers/​P1167.html (accessed 21 September 2014). James F. Dunnigan, The Complete Book of Wargames Handbook, How to Play, Design, and Find Them (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1992), 14–​6 maintains that the Department of Defense used computer games from the 1950s but in the 1980s included an element of history, thereby coming closer to commercial games. 19 Allen, War Games, 10. He also drew on work done in the seventies by a political scientist named Robert Mandel. 20 Goldhamer and Speier, “Some Observations on Political Gaming,” for example, was published later that year in the review World Politics 12, no. 1 (October 1959): 71–​83. 21 Ghamari-​Tabrizi, Sharon, The Worlds of Herman Kahn, The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 160. See her chapter on war games for a fascinating and detailed analysis of the games of the era. 22 Allen, War Games, 39. 23 Available at:  https://​www.youtube.com/​watch?v=IKqXu-​5jw60 (accessed 20 February 2016). 24 Allen, War Games, 86. He gives examples of such fluid boundaries. 25 Karl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. O.J. Matthijs Jolles (New York: Random House, 1943), 53. 26 This climate of fear was in part assuaged by the culture’s faith in scientific and mathematical prowess. Indeed, one article from a popular magazine absurdly claimed that military science was on the brink of controlling and using the

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Notes to pages 74–78 weather. See John Forney Rudy, “Air Notes, Aviation Today and Tomorrow,” Air Trails Pictorial XXXI, no. 2 (November 1948): 17. 27 Milton G. Weiner, “An Introduction to War Games,” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1959, 25, Available at: http://​www.rand.org/​pubs/​papers/​P1773 (accessed 21 September 2014). 28 Allen, War Games, 65–​6. 29 Weiner, “An Introduction to War Games,” 1. 30 Allen, War Games, 3. 31 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, The Birth of the Prison, 2nd ed., trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1995), 136. 32 See Goldhamer and Speier, “Some Observations on Political Gaming,” 2–​3. 33 Allen, War Games, 130. 34 Ibid., 133. 35 For one study on altruism, see Ernst Fehr and Urs Fishbacher, “The Nature of Human Altruism,” Nature 425 (23 October 2003). Available at:  http://​www. iwp.jku.at/​born/​mpwfst/​04/​nature02043_​f_​born.pdf (accessed 21 September 2014). 36 De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, 97. 37 Ibid., 100; Allen, War Games, 40–​1. 38 Allen, War Games, 143–​4. 39 Edward Rhodes, Power and MADness, The Logic of Nuclear Coercion (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), 9. Rhodes also talks about the importance of the game of chicken and its origins in automobile contests. 40 Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, reprint 2008), 116. Proquest ebrary (accessed 13 March 2016). 41 Ibid., 118. 42 Producer/​director Doug Wilson describes how ABC’s Wide World of Sports became popular in 1961 when it televised a USA/​USSR track and field meet in Moscow, in Doug Wilson with Jody Cohan, The World was Our Stage, Spanning the Globe with ABC Sports (North Charleston, SC: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 3. I presented some of these ideas at the College Art Association, New York, February 2015, in a paper entitled “The Demolition Derby and Games of Destruction in the Postwar Era.” 43 Curley, in A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and the Art of the Cold War, uses the blur as a key theme in the book. 44 Townshend, Who I Am, A Memoir, 62. Bob Dylan, the prophet of the counterculture, wrote A Hard Rain’s A-​Gonna Fall in 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although he may or may not have been writing about nuclear fallout, he was clearly impacted by the political situation. And Allen Ginsberg, who raged against the bomb in his poetry, talked of how he was moved to tears by the song, in Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home.

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Notes to pages 78–85 45 Rebel Without a Cause (1955), story by Nicholas Ray, Stewart Stern and Irving Shulman, directed by Nicholas Ray. 46 Mick Broderick also discusses the relationship between the film’s game of chicken and nuclear defense strategies, in “Armageddon Without a Cause, Playing Chicken in the Atomic Age,” in J. David Slocum, ed., Rebel Without a Cause, Approaches to a Maverick Masterwork (Albany:  State University of New York Press, 2005), 155–​61. 47 On Sutton-​Smith, see Mary Flanagan, Critical Play:  Radical Game Design (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), 11. 48 Caillois, Man, Play and Games, 10. 49 Flanagan, Critical Play, 81. 50 Discussion with Joseph Hatter, a member of the Brooklyn war-​gaming society, Metropolitan Wargamers, 2, March 2015. 51 Allen reviews the history of the corporation in War Games, 109–​10. 52 See, for example, Jon Freeman and the editors of Consumer Guide’s early description of the game in The Complete Book of Wargames (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980), 14–​16. 53 Van Creveld, Wargames, 155. 54 Rules of Play Manual, Tactics II (Baltimore: The Avalon Hill Game Company, 1961/​1973), 1. 55 Ibid., 15. 56 Atomic toys from the period are listed on the ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) Museum Directory. Available at:  http://​www.orau.org/​ptp/​collection/​atomictoys/​atomictoys.htm (accessed 6 November 2015). 57 “Life’s Bourke-​White Goes Bombing,” Life 14, no. 9 (1 March 1943): 19. 58 Lynn Spigel, Make Room for TV, Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 42–​4, illustrates white middle class families watching television together. 59 De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, 136. 60 Martin Gardner, “Mathematical Games: The Fantastic Combinations of John Conway’s New Solitaire Game ‘Life,’ ” Scientific American 223, no. 4 (October 1970): 120. 61 Steven Johnson, Emergence, The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software (New York: Scribner, 2001), 92. 62 H.G. Wells, Little Wars: A Game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970) (first published 1913). Wells believed that playing the game would further his pacifist agenda, 99–​100. 63 Allen, War Games, 124. 64 Dunnigan, The Complete Book of Wargames Handbook, 223. Jenny Thompson, War Games, Inside the World of Twentieth-​Century War Reenactors (Washington,

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Notes to pages 85–89 DC: Smithsonian Books, 2004), xxi–​xxii describes the small number of women involved in the hobby. 65 Marling, As Seen on TV, 281. 66 Allen, War Games, 8. Van Creveld’s views on biological determinism mark his chapter in Wargames, entitled “The Females of the Species,” 278. 67 Allen, War Games, 11–1​2. 68 See “Embry-​Riddle, An Air Trails Air Career Review,” Air Trails Pictorial XXXI, no. 2 (November 1948): 98. 69 See, for example, Yvonne Tasker, Soldiers’ Stories, Military Women in Cinema and Television Since World War II (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011). 70 Chantal Mouffe, “Artistic Agonism and Agonistic Spaces,” Art & Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods 1, no. 2 (Summer 2007):1–​5. 71 See Lee, Chronophobia, 22–​5. Max Kozloff launches his critique in “The Multi-​million Dollar Art Boondoggle,” Artforum 10, no. 2 (October 1971): 76. The collaboration is described in Maurice Tuchman, A report on the Art and Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967–​71 (Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1971), 68–​77. 72 Chamberlain discussed the RAND experience with Phyllis Tuchman in “An Interview with John Chamberlain,” 43. See also John Chamberlain, Rand Piece (self-​published, 1971). 73 Flanagan, Critical Play, 175. She is relying here on the writings of Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play, Game Design Fundamentals (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004). 74 Claudia Mesch reviews this aspect of Surrealism in her essay, and extends her discussion to include chess and its importance to Duchamp and others, in “Coldwar Games and Postwar Art,” Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture 6, no. 1 (Winter 2006). Available at: http://​reconstruction.eserver.org/​ Issues/​061/​mesch.shtml (accessed 1 March 2015). 75 Öyvind Fahlström, “O.F.: On Monopoly Games,” 1971, in Öyvind Fahlström (New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1982), 82. 76 R. Buckminster Fuller, “Introduction,” 50 Years of the Design Science Revolution and The World Game (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1969), v. 77 Ibid., 114. 78 “Life Presents R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion World,” Life 14, no. 9 (1 March 1943) : 41. 79 Historians such as Anthony Vidler have stressed the importance of the new aerial dimension of warfare. 80 See Christine Macy and Sarah Bonnemaison, Architecture and Nature, Creating the American Landscape (New York: Routledge, 2003), 316–​7. 81 See Peder Anker, “Buckminster Fuller as Captain of Spaceship Earth,” Minerva 45, no. 4 (2007): 417–​34.

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Notes to pages 90–94 82 Fuller, 50 Years of the Design Science Revolution and The World Game, 112. 83 One thinks also of Ariel Dorfman’s 1975 morality tale about capitalist ideology in Latin America, where he addressed the political implications of mass culture and cautioned that Disney helped foster U.S. hegemony in Latin America. Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck: Materialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (New York: International General, 1975) (first published in Valparaiso in 1971 in Spanish). 84 Öyvind Fahlström, “O.F.: Manipulating the World,” 1964, in Öyvind Fahlström, 45. 85 Ibid. 86 Öyvind Fahlström “O.F.: Games –​From ‘Sausages and Tweezers, –​A Running Commentary’,” 1966, in ibid., 58. 87 Suely Rolnik, Őyvind Fahlstöm’s Changing Maps,” in Öyvind Fahlstom, Another Space for Painting, ed. Manuel J. Borja-​Villel (Barcelona: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2001), 340. I thank Sharon Avery-​Fahlström for this reference. 88 See my article on David Hare for the artists’ appreciation of the politics and humanism of Krazy Kat, “David Hare, Surrealism, and the Comics,” The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914–​1945 VII, no. 1 (December 2011) : 93–​108. 89 In Borja-​Villel, ed., Öyvind Fahlström, Another Space for Painting, 179–​83. 90 In ibid., see Jean-​François Chevrier, “Another Space for Painting: Concrete Lyricism and Geopoetics,” 9, and Rolnik, “Öyvind Fahlstöm’s Changing Maps,” 338, for the temporal element. 91 In ibid., 173, from Öyvind Fahlstrȍm, catalogue of the XXXIII Venice Biennale, 1966. 92 In ibid., see Chevrier, “Another Space for Painting,” 22. 93 Lee, New Games, 153. She provides a lengthy analysis of game theory (including a discussion of Richard Serra’s 1974 video Prisoner’s Dilemma), which she grounds in the writings of Jean-​François Lyotard, 117–​41.

Chapter 3: Mid-century Hobbies and Toys of Destruction 1 “The Leisured Masses,” Business Week (12 September 1953): 142. 2 Ibid., 150. 3 “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” Business Week (28 January 1956): 56, 61. Differences in race and class were not noted. 4 William L. Byrd Jr., Paint by Numbers (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), 3. 5 Steven M.  Gelber, Hobbies:  Leisure and the Culture of Work in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 265.

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Notes to pages 94–98 6 The “good toy” tradition was associated with American companies such as Creative Playthings in the fifties and sixties or the Danish Legos. See Amy F. Ogata, “Good Toys,” in Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O’Connor, Century of the Child, Growing by Design, 1900–​2000 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2012), 171–​3. 7 See Gary Cross, Kid’s Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 6. 8 When Philip Guston tried to learn cartooning by a correspondence course, he quickly became bored with “how to draw” instructions, in Musa Mayer, Night Studio, A Memoir of Philip Guston (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997), 13. 9 “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” 58. 10 See Cross, Kid’s Stuff for the changing philosophies concerning children’s toys and education over the centuries. Legos patented the popular block system in 1958. 11 Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life, 1958, vol. 1, trans. John Moore (London: Verso, 1991) (first published in 1958), 30. 12 Ben Highmore, Michel de Certeau:  Analyzing Culture (London:  Continuum International Publishing, 2006), 156. 13 Caillois, Man, Play and Games, 32. 14 Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, A  Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955, 1966), 187. 15 Gelber, Hobbies, 3. 16 Ibid., 2. 17 Just as writers on the postwar era problematized the division between work and leisure, they questioned the art/​work binary or the production of aesthetic object versus the commodity. As Julia Bryan-​Wilson subtly argues, in Art Workers, these questions came to a head in the formation of the AWC (Art Workers’ Coalition) in 1969. 18 Alfred Gell, “The Technology of Enchantment and the Enchantment of Technology,” in Anthropology, Art, and Aesthetics, eds. Jeremy Coote and Anthony Shelton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 44. 19 Ibid., 47. 20 Ibid., 49. 21 Paul K. Guillow, How to Understand and Use Flying Airplane Plans (Wakefield, MA: Guillow’s), 1944. 22 These clubs were anticipated by an aviation craze in the 1920s after Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927. Motor powered models were so popular that Gimbels, a major New York City department store, organized a model airplane league the following year, Cross, Kid’s Stuff, 56. 23 The history of Guillow’s is available at: http://​www.guillow.com/​aboutus.aspx (accessed 15 June 2015).

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Notes to pages 98–101 24 “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” 60. Glaser calculated that adults were his largest market and next came the 7–​15 year olds. 25 Cross, Kid’s Stuff, 18. 26 Thomas Graham, in Remembering Revell Model Kits (Atglen, PA.:  Schiffer Publishing, 2002), 44. 27 “Norman Bel Geddes’s models re-​enact naval battle,” in Life 12, no. 21 (25 May 1942):  21–​ 5. See Jean-​ Louis Cohen, Architecture in Uniform, Designing and Building for the Second World War (Montreal:  Canadian Center for Architecture, 2011), 327. 28 “Model Ships Show World’s Navies,” in Popular Science 139, no. 5 (November 1941): 116. The artist H.C. Westerman who was a crew member on the USS Enterprise during WWII, assuaged his war trauma later in the sixties in part by crafting small wooden death ships which, in the hobbyist tradition, he would place on bases or in wooden or glass display cases. See Applin, Eccentric Objects, Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America, 86–​8. 29 Graham, Remembering Revell Model Kits, 7. 30 Barthes, “Toys,” in Mythologies, 53. 31 Available at:  http://​w ww.imagineeringdisney.com/​b log/​2 010/​8 /​1 8/​t he-​ fantasy-​of-​space-​colony-​living.html (accessed 15 June 2015). The products of the Danish Lego company, also new to the era, were an exception to this form of indoctrination as they took an ideological position against the use of military machines (although they did produce space models, which at the time were laden with Cold War implications, and a Star Wars series late in the twentieth century). 32 Graham, Remembering Revell Model Kits, 15–​35, describes the designers’ efforts for accuracy. 33 “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” 58. 34 “Rickover Asserts Toy Aided Soviet,” New York Times (18 June 1961), ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851–​2010): 9. Available at: http://​s earch.proquest.com.ez-​proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/ ​hnpnewyorktimes/​docview/​115243650/​7D0A2F72092A4CEBPQ/​2?accountid=7286 (accessed 4 September 2014). There was a controversy over the question of whether the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships actually supplied the kit manufacturers with detailed drawings. The 1954 Modern Plastics article, “Millions for Models,” in Modern Plastics 32 (November 1954): 93, posits the connection, but Graham argues otherwise in Remembering Revell Model Kits, 78–​9. 35 Megan Prelinger chronicles and documents this incident in Another Science Fiction, Advertising the Space Race 1957–​62 (New York: Blast Books, 2010), 32–​4. 36 Ibid., 124. 37 Graham, Remembering Revell Model Kits, 30. 38 Rothberg, Traumatic Realism, 184–​5. He refers to Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust book, Maus (New York: Pantheon, 1980).

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Notes to pages 101–109 39 Robert Lesser, Pulp Art, Original Cover Paintings for the Great American Pulp Magazines (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, l997), 129. 40 Robert C. Dille ed., The Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (New York: Chelsea House, l969), n.p. 41 Frank R.  Paul, quoted in Stewart Robinson, “Boogeyman,” in Family Circle (26 August 1938): 18; see also Lesser, Pulp Art, 28. 42 Jerome F. Shapiro, Atomic Bomb Cinema, The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film (New York: Routledge, 2001), 2, 6. 43 Mick Broderick, “Armageddon Without a Cause, Playing Chicken in the Atomic Age,” in Slocum, ed., Rebel Without a Cause, Approaches to a Maverick Masterwork, 161, 164 for ray gun. 44 Cross, Kid’s Stuff, 155. 45 Aidan O’Connor, “Space Wars,” in Century of the Child, 184–​5. 46 Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 345–​6. 47 Michael A.  Amundson, “ ‘Uranium on the Cranium’:  Uranium Mining and Popular Culture,” in Zeman and Amundson, eds., Atomic Culture, 56–​7. 48 A.C. Gilbert with Marshall McClintock, The Man Who Lives in Paradise, An Autobiography of A.C. Gilbert (New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1954), 333. 49 Ibid., 334. 50 Lesser, Pulp Art, 127. 51 Tinsley’s advertisement for American Bosch Arma Corporation is reproduced in Prelinger, Another Science Fiction, Advertising the Space Race 1957–​ 62, 125. 52 Mori, “The Uncanny Valley,” 7. 53 John Heskett, Industrial Design (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980), 193. 54 Tom Vanderbilt, Survival City, 88–​92. 55 Joselit, Feedback: Television Against Democracy, 145. He draws upon the writings of Kurt Lang and Gladys Engel Lang. 56 Barthes, “Toys,” in Mythologies, 53. 57 Gayle Strege, “The Store Mannequin: An Evolving Ideal of Beauty,” in Visual Marketing, The Image of Selling, ed. Louisa Iarocci (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013), 108. 58 See Theodore Reff in Degas: the Artist’s Mind (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976). 59 Richard Kendall, Degas and the Little Dancer (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1998), 62–​3. 60 See Hal Foster, Compulsive Beauty (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993) for a discussion of the uncanny in relationship to Surrealism. 61 Mori, “The Uncanny Valley.” 62 Foster, Return of the Real, 152. 63 Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition, 1990, 15. 64 Ibid.

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Notes to pages 109–115 65 Study for the End of the World 2, 1962 (David Brinkley’s Journal). 66 Thomas, Naked Barbies, Warrior Joes, & Other Forms of Visible Gender, 117. 67 Christopher Ellis, introduction to H.G. Wells, Little Wars. 68 Paddy Griffith, “Foreword” in John Curry, ed., Donald Featherstone’s War Games Battles and Manoeuvres with Model Soldiers (Lulu.com, rev. ed. 2008) (first published 1962), 8. 69 Ibid., 8. 70 Cross, Kid’s Stuff, 154. Cross also states that in the fifties many toys were still made of lithographed tinplate or inexpensive die-​cast zinc metal. In the sixties, however, plastics took over. Posts from the Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, New York cite the importance in America of plastic soldiers in Marx Playsets sold by Sears Roebucks and Company as early as the fifties. Available at: http://​brooklynwargaming.com/​2012/​12/​11/​airfixs-​little-​soldiers-​by-​jean-​christophe-​carbonel-​the-​boys-​book-​of-​airfix-​by-​arthur-​ward/​ ?s=marx+playsets+through+sears (accessed 6 January 2015). 71 Donald Featherstone, “Introduction” (1962), Donald Featherstone’s War Games Battles and Manoeuvres with Model Soldiers, 12. 72 Wells, Little Wars, 7. 73 Donald Featherstone’s War Games, 24. 74 Christopher George Lewin, War Games and Their History (Stroud, Glouces­ tershire, UK: Fonthill Media, 2012), 12. 75 Vardi, “Auto Thrill Shows,” 22, claims that thousands of people reenacted the Boer War in amusement parks in the early twentieth century. 76 Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells, 30–​3. 77 Philip J.  Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1998), 142. See also Mona Hadler, “Pontiac Hood Ornaments:  Chief of the Sixes,” Journal of the Society for Commercial Archeology 28, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 13, and Hadler, “Pontiac Hood Ornaments: Marketing the Chief,” in Iarocci, ed., Visual Merchandising: The Image of Selling, 77–​93. 78 Rothberg, Traumatic Realism, 10. 79 Flanagan, Critical Play, 94. 80 Van Creveld chronicles these developments in Wargames, 257–​9. 81 President Eisenhower was an amateur painter who purchased the kits for his staff. See Marling, As Seen on TV, 65. 82 Gelber, Hobbies, 256–​7, 283–​4. 83 After WWII, women did appear in hobbyist magazines as winners in model making competitions. In the November 1948 issue of the modelers’ magazine Air Trails, for example, Sandra Pickney won a trophy in a girl’s-​only division. 84 “From Toys to Hobbies: Way to Men’s Hearts,” 60. 85 Bryan-​Wilson, Art Workers, 69.

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Notes to pages 116–120 86 Mona Hadler, interview with Lee Bontecou, Giles-​ Bontecou farm, Pennsylvania, July 1986. Bontecou and I spent a weekend at her farm in Pennsylvania photographing her work. Much of the primary information from my five published essays on Bontecou (between 1992 and 2014) and here comes from taped interviews from this weekend, as well as from many subsequent informal interviews between 1986 through 2007 (often in telephone calls initiated by Bontecou herself), which I have dated when possible After decades of scholarly study, I have developed ideas and readings of her work that draw upon and extend this earlier material. 87 Mona Hadler, “Lee Bontecou: Plastic Fish and Grinning Saw Blades,” Woman’s Art Journal 28, no. 1 (Spring/​Summer 2007): 12–​8. 88 Niki de Saint Phalle, Letter to Pontus Hultén, in Niki de Saint Phalle (Bonn: Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1992), 161. 89 Pierre Descargues, ‘Niki de Saint-​Phalle Nanas,” Quadrum 20 (1966): 67. Émilie Bouvard places her shooting in the intriguing context of American Westerns in “Niki de Saint Phalle, An American Artist,” in Niki de Saint Phalle 1930–​2002, ed. Camille Morineau (Bilbao: FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao, 2015), 51. 90 Saint Phalle, Letter to Pontus Hultén, in Niki de Saint Phalle, 160. 91 Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 117. For more on Saint Phalle and feminism see Amelia Jones, “Wild Maid, Wild Soul, A Wild Wild Weed: Niki de Saint Phalle’s Fierce Feminities:  CA. 1960–​66,” in Morineau, ed., Niki de Saint Phalle 1930–​2002, 156–​63. 92 Bontecou also saw Jean Tinguely when she visited Paris during an exhibition of her work at the Sonnabend Gallery, but she did not mention Saint Phalle. Bontecou, interview by the author, 16 October 2003. 93 Saint Phalle, Letter to Hultén, in Niki de Saint Phalle, 162. 94 Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 103. 95 Saint Phalle, Letter to Hultén, in Niki de Saint Phalle, 162. 96 Ibid., 161. 97 Ibid., 164. 98 Study for the End of the World No. 2, 1962 (David Brinkley’s Journal). 99 Virginia Dwan, Oral History Interview by Charles Stuckey (27 March 1984), transcript 24, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Cited in Whiting, “Apocalypse in Paradise,” 21. 100 See, for example, Julia Robinson, ed., New Realisms: 1957–​62 Object Strategies Between Readymade and Spectacle (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010). 101 See, for example Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Neo-​ Avantgarde and Culture Industry, Essays on European and American Art from 1955–​1975 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), 257–​84, chapter titled “Plenty or Nothing: From Yves Klein’s Le Vide to Arman’s Le Plein.”

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Notes to pages 120–124 102 Amelia Jones, for example, considers the Tirs a gendered riposte to Jackson Pollock’s practice, Body Art/​Performing the Subject (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 94. 103 Saint Phalle skirts issues of the outmoded as theorized by Walter Benjamin, and employed by artists like Arman in his Accumulations of the early sixties, to engage historical memory and trauma. See Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 82–​3. 104 Whiting “Apocalypse in Paradise,” 21. 105 Ibid., 15. 106 Jill Carrick, “Phallic Victories? Niki de Saint-​Phalle’s Tirs,” Art History 26, no. 5 (November 2003): 707. Carrick elaborates that the guns and trucks are paired with baby carriages and take part in a more complex reading of Saint Phalle and issues of gender. 107 Sarah Wilson, “Tu es moi:  The Sacred, the Profane and the Secret in the Work of Niki de Saint Phalle,” in Niki de Saint Phalle, ed. Stefano Cecchetto (Milan: Skira, 2009), 34. For more on the Tirs, see Wilson’s essay, “Tirs, Tears, Ricochet,” in Morineau, ed., Niki de Saint Phalle 1930–​2002, 92–​101. 108 Bontecou, quoted in Eleanor Munro, Originals:  American Women Artists (New York: Simon and Schuster, l976), 384. I have used this quote in my various publications on Bontecou. 109 Bontecou, lecture presented at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, NY, 1988, Skowhegan Lecture Archive, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Skowhegan, 6. 110 Hadler, interview with Bontecou, July 1986. Her cousin Dora remembers how they spent hours together as children playing by grinding stones to produce a powdery substance which they would store in bags and cans. Interview with Dora G. Flash Bourne, New York, March 17, 2007. 111 Hamilton, “Arman’s System of Objects,” 59. 112 Hadler, interview with Bontecou, 1986. See also Mona Hadler, “Lee Bontecou’s ‘Warnings,’ ” Art Journal 53, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 58. 113 Elyse Speaks, “The Terms of Craft and Other Means of Making, Lee Bontecou’s Hybrid Trajectory,” Art Journal 71, no. 4 (Winter 2012: 67). Speaks also relates Bontecou’s process to theories of the everyday. 114 Hadler, interview with Bontecou, July 1986. 115 Ibid, Bontecou, born 1931, remembers her brother making the balsa wood models. 116 Ibid. 117 The Mulas photos are illustrated and discussed in Hadler, “Lee Bontecou, Plastic Fish and Grinning Sawblades,” 15. 118 Interview with Lee Bontecou before 2004. See also ibid. 119 “Young Sculptor Brings Jet Age to Lincoln Center: It’s Art –​But Will It Fly?” Life 56, no. 15 (10 April l964: 43).

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Notes to pages 125–128 120 “Cornucopia: Lee Bontecou,” in Newsweek 68 (24 October 1966), 77. 121 Mary McLeod, “Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life: An Introduction,” in Architecture of the Everyday, eds. Steven Harris and Deborah Berke (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), 28. 122 Hadler, Interview with Bontecou, July 1986. See also, Hadler, “Lee Bontecou’s Worldscapes,” 202. 123 Kirsten Swenson sees the irony in Bontecou’s commission of a warplane transformed into a “baroque” sculpture for a palace of the arts and places the work in the ironic context of Pop Art in, “ ‘Like War Equipment With Teeth’: Lee Bontecou’s Steel-​and-​Canvas Reliefs,” American Art 17, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 79–​80. Lincoln Center was also the site of a massive protest against Moses’s urban renewal project. Bontecou never discussed this with me, but it would be interesting to consider her work in this urban context. Artists such as Oldenburg acted in consort with the populist outcry over urban renewal. See, for example, Joshua Shannon, “Claes Oldenburg’s The Street and Urban Renewal in Greenwich Village, 1960,” Art Bulletin 86, no. 1 (March 2004): 136–​61. See Chapter 4 for more on this issue.

Chapter 4: Ephemerality and Creative Destruction in the Public Space 1 See, for example, the discussion in Jean-​Louis Cohen, Architecture in Uniform, 376. 2 Jörg Friedrich, The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940–​1945, trans. Allison Brown (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 462. 3 Christopher Klemek, The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal, Postwar Urbanism from New  York to Berlin (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2011). 4 Anthony Vidler, “Air War and Architecture,” in Ruins of Modernity, eds. Julia Hell and Andres Schönle (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2010), 32. 5 Ibid., 39. 6 “In the Ruins, London Makes Use of the Scars Left by the Nazi Blitz of 1940,” Life 15, no. 13 (27 September 1943): 41–​2. Available at: https://​books.google. com/​books?id=YFAEAAAAMBAJ&q=in+the+ruins#v=snippet&q=in%20 the%20ruins&f=false (accessed 1 March 2015). 7 Max Page, The Creative Destruction of Manhattan 1900–​1940 (Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1999), 72. 8 Samuel Zipp, Manhattan Projects, The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 5. For Cold War urban optimism, see also, Mary Caroline Simpson, “American Artists Paint

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Notes to pages 129–133 the City: Katharine Kuh, the 1956 Venice Biennale, and New York’s Place in the Cold War Art World,” in American Studies 48, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 31–​7. 9 Greg Castillo, Cold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), 59. 10 Elizabeth Gordon, “The Threat to the Next America,” House Beautiful 95, no. 4 (April 1953): 126–​30, 250–​1. 11 Anne McClintock, “Soft-​Soaping Empire,” in Mirzoeff, ed., The Visual Culture Reader (New York: Routledge, 2nd ed, 2002), 506. 12 Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies, Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture, 78. 13 Barthes, “Soap-​powders and Detergents,” in Mythologies, 36. 14 Beatriz Colomina, Domesticity at War (Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2007), 120. 15 One example to the contrary was in the integrated swimming pools in New York City built in the 1930s. See Marta Gutman, “Race, Place and Play, Robert Moses and the WPA Swimming Pools in New York City,” in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 67, no. 4 (December 2008): 522–​61. 16 David Harvey, “The Right to the City,” New Left Review 53 (September-​ October, 2008): 33. 17 Robert Moses, “What Happened to Haussmann?,” Architectural Forum 77 (July 1942): 57–​66. 18 Jeff Byles, in his popular book, Rubble, Unearthing the History of Demolition (New York: Harmony Books, 2005), paints a lively picture of the controversies over destruction, profiteering and salvaging. 19 Klemek, The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal, 127. 20 Zipp, Manhattan Projects, 12. 21 Kenneth T. Jackson, “Robert Moses and the Rise of New York, The Power Broker in Perspective,” in Robert Moses and the Modern City, The Transformation of New York, eds. Hilary Ballon and Kenneth T. Jackson (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007), 68. 22 Marni Kessler, “Dusting the surface of the bourgeoisie, the veil, and Haussmann’s Paris,” in The Invisible Flâneuse? Gender, public space, and visual culture in nineteenth-​century Paris, eds. Aruna d’Souza and Tom McDonough (Manchester, UK and New York: Manchester University Press, 2006), 49. 23 Scott Murray spoke cogently about these structures in “The Ubiquitous Glass Box: Mad Men and the Rise and Critique of Viral Corporate Architecture at Mid-​ Century,” in a panel that I chaired for the College Art Association, New York City, 14 February 2013, titled “Mad ‘Men’ and the Visual Culture of the Long Sixties.” 24 Johnson, Emergence, 18–​ 9. He claims Jacobs was influenced by Warren Weaver’s Rockefeller Foundation essay on the topic. 25 Alison and Peter Smithson, Ordinariness and Light, 137.

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Notes to pages 133–138 26 Rodenbeck, Radical Prototypes, 41. 27 Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961, Vintage Edition, 1992), 50. 28 Johnson, Emergence, 96. 29 De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 93. 30 Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 72. 31 McLeod, “Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life: An Introduction,” 15. 32 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-​Smith (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1991), 364. 33 Thomas F. McDonough, “Situationist Space,” in October 67 (Winter 1994): 73–​4. 34 Guy-​Ernest Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,”1958, in Situationist International Anthology, ed. and trans. Ken Knabb, rev. ed. (Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Services, 2006), 62. 35 Ibid., 65. 36 Michael Nevin Willard, “Séance, Tricknowlogy, Skateboarding and the Space of Youth,” in Guins and Cruz eds., Popular Culture, A Reader, 467. See also Crow, The Long March of Pop, for California surfboard culture in the fifties and sixties. 37 Amanda Dargan and Steven Zeitlin, City Play (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 2, from Jonathan Goldman, The Empire State Building (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980), n.p. 38 Tom Eccles, “An Interview with Franz West,” Vienna, 13 November 2007, in Darsie Alexander, Franz West, To Build a House You Start With the Roof: Work 1972–​2008 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 149. 39 Werner Herzog, interview with Terry Gross, 1998, “Werner Herzog Talks About Madmen and Caves in Interviews from ‘Fresh Air’ Archives,” National Public Radio (22 August 2014). Available at: http://​www.npr.org/​2014/​08/​22/​ 342471828/​werner-​herzog-​talks-​about-​madmen-​and-​caves-​in-​interviews-​ from-​fresh-​air-​archives (accessed 15 May 2015). 40 Ballard, Miracles of Life, 103. 41 Roy Koslovsky, “Adventure Playgrounds and Postwar Reconstruction,” in Gutman and de Coninck-​Smith, Designing Modern Childhoods, 173. 42 Lady Allen of Hurtwood, “Why Not Use Our Bomb Sites Like This?” Picture Post 33, no. 6 (16 November 1946): 26–​7. 43 Matthew Thomson, Lost Freedom, The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-​War Settlement (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 70. 44 Mariana Mogilevich, in “Vacant Lots as Building Blocks, Reclaiming New York’s Wastelands,” in eds. Katherine A. Bussard, Alison Fisher and Greg Foster-​Rice, The City Lost & Found, Capturing New  York, Chicago, and Los Angeles 1960–​1980 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2015), 82–​6, chronicles a comparable phenomenon –​the rise of vest pocket parks in

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Notes to pages 138–141 New York City during the late sixties, where children participated in the redesigning of vacant lots as play spaces. 45 See, for example, Jeanne Wakasuki Houston, in Farewell to Manzanar (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1973), about the Japanese American internment camps during the forties. She describes the erosion of traditional Japanese values: “My own family after years of mess hall eating collapsed as an integrated unit,” 37. With the Nazi extermination camps and extensive bombing campaigns, this situation was widespread at the time. 46 Koslovsky, “Adventure Playgrounds and Postwar Reconstruction,” 181. He cites George Burden, “The Junk Playground: An Educational Adjunct and an Antidote to Delinquency,” in The Friend, 106, no. 49 (3 December 1948): 1029. 47 Anna Freud and Dorothy T. Burlingham, War and Children (New York: Medical War Books, 1943, reprint Westport CT: Greenwood Press, Inc, 1973), 23–​4. 48 In England, not only Anna Freud, but Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott turned to the study of childhood, aggression, and play in this era. Recently, art historians such as Mignon Nixon and Jo Applin have focused more on the importance of Melanie Klein’s theorizing of aggression as a natural stage in infantile psychic development for understanding postwar artists such as Lee Bontecou and Louise Bourgeois. See, for example, Applin, “ ‘This Threatening and Possibly Functioning Object’: Lee Bontecou and the Sculptural Void,” 496–​8. It is worth noting that influential British play theorist and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, known for writings on transitional objects, gained experience working with evacuees during WWII. 49 See Thomson, Lost Freedom, The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-​ War Settlement, 46 and passim. 50 Burden, “The Junk Playground: An Educational Adjunct and an Antidote to Delinquency,” in The Friend, 1030. Burden was Chairman of the Camberwell playground committee. 51 Lady Allen of Hurtwood, “Why Not Use Our Bomb Sites Like This?,” 26. 52 Ben Highmore, “Playgrounds and Bombsites, Postwar Britain’s Ruined Landscapes,” Cultural Politics 9, no. 3, (2013). Available at: http://​www.academia.edu/​6253096/​Bombsites_​and_​Playgrounds_​Postwar_​Britains_​Ruined_​ Landscapes (accessed 25 December 2015). Paolo Virno, “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment,” in Radical thought in Italy: A Potential Politics eds. Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 13–​34. 53 Highmore, “Playgrounds and Bombsites,” 334. 54 Leo Mellor, Reading the Ruins, Modernism, Bombsites and British Culture (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2011), 6.  German citizens often froze the moment of destruction by creating rubble models of ruined cities such as Frankfurt, which Helmut Puff argues affords the viewer scopic control

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Notes to pages 141–149 of the past, in “Ruins as Models, Displaying Destruction in Postwar Germany,” in, Hell and Schönle, eds., Ruins of Modernity, 253–​69. 55 Walter Benjamin, “Surrealism,” in Reflections:  Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, 181. 56 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: Verso, l998), 180. 57 Benjamin, “The Destructive Character,” 303. 58 Highmore, “Playgrounds and Bombsites,” 334–​5. 59 Francesca Russello Ammon, Culture of Clearance:  Waging War on the Landscape in Postwar America (PhD diss., Yale University, 2012). 60 See Francesca Russello Ammon, “Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer, The Culture of Clearance in Postwar Children’s Books,” in Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 306–​36. 61 See Barbara Barksdale Clowse, Brainpower for the Cold War: The Sputnik Crisis and National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981). See also Ammon, Culture of Clearance, 282. 62 Ammon, Culture of Clearance, 3. 63 Ammon, “Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer,” 312. 64 Tonka history available at:  http://​www.fundinguniverse.com/​company-​ histories/​tonka-​corporation-​history/​ (accessed 15 April 2015). The company’s name was changed to Tonka Toys in 1955. 65 K.S. Andersson, “The Bulldozer –​An Appreciation,” The Military Engineer (October 1944): 39, cited in Ammon, Culture of Clearance, 29. 66 “Guam: U.S. Makes Little Island into Mighty Base,” Life 19, no. 1 (2 July 1945): 63–​ 4. Available at: https://​books.google.com/​books?id=skkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA2 &dq=life+july+2+1945&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCkQ6AEwA2oVChMI_​OX_​ 3NnRyAIViBw-​Ch2M5wu0#v=onepage&q=life%20july%202%201945&f=false (accessed 15 April 2015) See also Ammon, Culture of Clearance, 39. 67 Life 19, no. 16 (15 October 1945), back cover. Available at https://​books.google.com/​books?id=sUsEAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_​ge_​ summary_​r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed 15 April 2015). 68 Ammon, Culture of Clearance, 60. 69 Ibid., 297. 70 Cross, Kid’s Stuff, 12. 71 Ibid., 55. 72 See, for example, my discussion in Hadler, “Pontiac Hood Ornaments: Chief of the Sixes,” 8. 73 Howard A.  Rusk, M.D., “Death and Disease Reflect Neglect of American Indian,” New York Times (8 April 1951), 43. 74 The 1939 patent is available at http://​www.google.com/​patents/​USD113016 (accessed 1 August 2014). Email communication on 1 August 2014 with

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Notes to pages 149–153 Reinecke’s daughter, Barbra Jean Reinecke Sedory, who wrote:  “My mother had one on her kitchen wall until she sold her house in Oak Park, IL in 1995. Our Dazey was white & medium green. It worked great, even in the later years. It also came in stainless steel and black. I want to say that I first remember it being in the kitchen somewhere around 1950.” 75 See Christin J. Mamiya, Pop Art and Consumer Culture, American Super Market (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), 115, for push-​button appliances and the military. A great deal has been written on this topic, including my article, “The Bomb in the Postwar Era: From the Sublime to Red Hot Candy.” 76 Nicholas J.  Saunders, “Material Culture and Conflict, The Great War, 1914–​ 2003,” in his Matters of Conflict, Material Culture, Memory and the First World War (New York: Routledge, 2004), 16–​7. 77 See, for example, Orton, Figuring Jasper Johns, on Johns and the flag. 78 Donald Clark Hodges, “Junk Sculpture:  What does it Mean?,” Artforum 1, no. 5 (November 1962): 34. 79 See Anna Dezeuze in “ ‘Neo-​Dada’, ‘Junk Aesthetic’ and Spectator Participation,” in Neo-​Avant-​Garde, ed. David Hopkin, (Amsterdam and New York: Editions Rodopi B.V., 2006), 52. 80 Claudia Mesch, “Vostell’s Ruins:  dé-​collage and the mnemotechnic space of the postwar city,” Art History 23, no. 1 (March 2000): 92. 81 Ibid., 95. The subsequent commercialization of some of the work of décollage artists has been called into question. 82 Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, “Narrativizing Visual Culture:  Towards a Polycentric Aesthetics,” in Mirzoeff, ed., The Visual Culture Reader, 52. 83 Randall Johnson and Robert Stam, Brazilian Cinema, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 39. 84 Glauber Rocha, “An Aesthetic of Hunger,” 1965. Available at: https://​analepsis. files.wordpress.com/​2008/​03/​rocha1.pdf (accessed 15 June 2016). 85 Barbara Rose, Claes Oldenburg (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1970), 49. 86 Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, “Annihilate/​Illuminate: Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun and Mouse Museum,” in Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, eds. Achim Hochdörfer and Barbara Schröder (Vienna: Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vien, 2012): 252. 87 Shannon, “Claes Oldenburg’s The Street and Urban Renewal in Greenwich Village, 1960,” 147–​8. The slogan appears on an advertisement for the Ray Gun exhibition in The Village Voice, 27 January 1960. 88 Germano Celant, ed., Claes Oldenburg:  An Anthology (New  York:  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1995), 40. 89 Susan Sontag, “Happenings: An Art of Radical Juxtaposition” (1962), in Against Interpretation and Other Essays, 272–​4.

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Notes to pages 153–158 90 Shannon, “Claes Oldenburg’s The Street and Urban Renewal in Greenwich Village, 1960.” For another excellent article on Oldenburg and the city, see Jo Applin, “ ‘Strange Encounters’: Claes Oldenburg’s ‘Proposed Colossal Monuments’ for New York and London,” Art History 34, no. 4 (September 2011): 838–​57. She discusses his relationship to space in terms of alienation, and questions of identity and foreignness. 91 Claes Oldenburg, Injun and Other Histories, 1960 (New  York:  Great Bear Pamphlet, 1966), quoted in Shannon, “Claes Oldenburg’s The Street and Urban Renewal in Greenwich Village, 1960,” 143. 92 Tom Williams, “Lipstick Ascending:  Claes Oldenburg in New Haven in 1969,” Grey Room 31 (Spring 2008): 135. 93 Ibid., 123, Tom Williams, interview with Gordon Thorne, 6 May 2006. 94 Bruce Hooten, Oral History Interview with Claes Oldenburg, 19 February 1965, Archives of American Art, available at:  http://​www.aaa.si.edu/​collections/​interviews/​oral-​history-​interview-​claes-​oldenburg-​12259 (accessed 11 April 2015). 95 Quoted in Rose, Claes Oldenburg, 20. 96 Much has been written about the political and social implications of Matta-​ Clark’s innovative practice. See, for example, Pamela M. Lee, Object to be Destroyed: The Work of Gordon Matta-​Clark (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2000). I have tried, with the exception of Acconci and Rosler, to focus more on the art of the sixties, but Matta-Clark and Smithson are relevant here as well. 97 Williams reviews the situation in, “Lipstick Ascending,” 117. 98 Bontecou too moved away from ephemerality and replaced the iron wire on her works with copper as the iron tended to decompose. She used this copper wire to fasten canvas strips to welded frames in the late fifties and early sixties. Hadler, interview with Lee Bontecou, July 1986. 99 Vito Acconci and Bernadette Mayer eds., 0 TO 9, The Complete Magazine, 1967–​1969, (Brooklyn, NY:  Ugly Duckling Press, Lost Literature Series, 2006), 7. For a discussion of his poetry, see Craig Dworkin, ed., Language to Cover a Page, The Early Writings of Vito Acconci (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006). 100 Gwen Allen, Artists’ Magazines, An Alternative Space for Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 1. 101 Maciunas, “Fluxus Manifesto,” 1961, reprinted in Oliva, ed., Ubi Fluxus/​ibi motus 1990–​1962, 214. 102 Acconci has shown me his reading assignments for students at Brooklyn College, where we are both on the faculty. 103 Frank, Something Else Press, 44. 104 Mona Hadler, Interview with Vito Acconci, New York City, 15 March 2015

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Notes to pages 158–164 105 Gustav Metzger in an interview by Anna McNay in Studio International, (28 July 2014) discusses Tinguely’s work in relation to his own. Available at: http://​ www.studiointernational.com/​index.php/​gustav-​metzger-​interview-​kettles-​yard-​auto-​destructive-​auto-​creative-​art-​liquid-​crystal (accessed 17 September 2015). 106 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 107 Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963, reprinted in Oliva, ed., Ubi Fluxus/​ibi motus 1990-​1962, 221. 108 Art becomes Architecture becomes art: A conversation between Vito Acconci and Kenny Schachter, moderated by Lillian Pfaff (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2005), 65, 86. 109 Catherine Morris, “Six Years as a Curatorial Project,” in Catherine Morris and Vincent Bonin, eds., Materializing Six Years, Lucy R.  Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art (New York: Brooklyn Museum, 2012), 9. 110 Ibid., xvi. 111 When I placed him in this context, Acconci agreed, Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 112 Allen, Artists’ Magazines, 87. 113 Kate Linker, Vito Acconci (New York: Rizzoli, 1994), 100. 114 Vito Acconci, “West, He Said (Notes on Framing)” Vision, no. 1 (1975): 58, reprinted in Corinne Diserens, Vito Hannibal Acconci Studio (Barcelona: Museu d’Art Contemporani, 2005), 304. He wrote this while traveling west for four shows of his work. 115 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 116 Ibid. 117 Art becomes Architecture becomes art:  A  conversation between Vito Acconci and Kenny Schachter, 124. 118 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 119 Ibid. 1 20 Roger Luckhurst, “Ballard/​Atrocity/​C onner/​E xhibition/​Assemblage,” in Jeannette Baxter and Rowland Wymer eds., J.G. Ballard: Visions and Revisions (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 37. 121 Although unaware at the time, he follows in the tradition here of “nomadic truckitecture” used by Ant Farm in its 1971 Media Van that drove across the country on the relatively new interstate highways staging events along the way. 122 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 123 Vito Acconci, written notes, 1979. 124 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 125 Vito Acconci, typescript of the public address message, 1979, Acconci Studio archives.

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Notes to pages 164–175 126 Kate Linker, Vito Acconci, suggests this reading, 109, but overlooks the controversies over terrorism at the time. 127 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 128 Acconci’s love of puns and words games, learned from his father, is clear here, and the ephemeral nature of the piece relates to its name. 129 Art becomes Architecture becomes art:  A  conversation between Vito Acconci and Kenny Schachter, 71, 73. 130 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 131 Linda Shearer, Vito Acconci:  Public Spaces (New  York:  The Museum of Modern Art, 1988), 13. 132 Hadler, Interview with Acconci. 133 Art becomes Architecture becomes art:  A  conversation between Vito Acconci and Kenny Schachter, 97.

Chapter 5: Garage Sales and​Planned Obsolescence 1 Gustav Metzger quoted in “Excerpts from selected papers presented at the 1966 Destruction in Art Symposium,” Studio International 174 (December 1966): 282. 2 For a discussion of Rosenquist, Pop Art, and camp in the context of obsolescence, see Sara Doris, Pop Art and the Contest Over American Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 189–​90. 3 George Baker, ed., “Obsolescence,” October 100 (Spring 2002): 6. 4 See Judith Barry in ibid., 42. 5 Zoe Leonard, “Out of Time,” in ibid., 91. 6 Anthea Callen, Women Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement, 1870–​1914 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979). 7 Molly Nesbit, Atget’s Seen Albums (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 160. 8 Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 95. 9 Martha Rosler, email communication with Mona Hadler, 6 November 2015. 10 Gretchen Mary Herrmann, Garage sales as practice: ideologies of women, work and community in daily life (PhD diss., vol 1, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1990) (UMI reprints), 162. 11 “In Conversation; Gretchen Herrmann with Martha Rosler, Community, women and work in the American garage sale,” Garage Sale Standard 1 (November 2012): 3. 12 Herrmann, Garage sales as practice, 1. 13 See Gretchen M. Herrmann, “Gift or Commodity? What Changes Hands in the U.S. Garage Sale,” American Ethnologist 24, no. 4 (November 1997): 912.

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Notes to pages 175–181 She does, however, take Appadurai to task for blurring the distinction between gift and commodity. 14 Gretchen M. Herrmann, “Women’s Exchange in the U.S. Garage Sale: Giving Gifts and Creating Community,” Gender & Society 10, no. 6 (December 1996): 704. 15 Ibid., 707. 16 In a New York The Museum of Modern Art panel on women and labor, held during the Meta-​Monumental Garage Sale, on 29 November 2012, Coco Fusco nuanced this idea, highlighting more current issues of women’s labor. 17 Herrmann, “Women’s Exchange in the U.S. Garage Sale,” 711. 18 Ibid., 713. 19 Jean Young and Jim Young, The Garage Sale Manual, Alternate Economics for the People (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973), 9–​10. 20 Ibid., 11. 21 Dayna Tortorici, “Part of the Family,” Garage Sale Standard 2 (November 2012): 3. 22 Julia Bryan-​Wilson, Art Workers, 128, reviews these statistics in the context of Lucy Lippard’s feminist labor. 23 Tortorici, “Part of the Family,” 4. 24 Herrmann, “Gift or Commodity? What Changes Hands in the U.S. Garage Sale,” 912. 25 Herrmann, “Women’s Exchange in the U.S. Garage Sale,” 703. 26 See, for example, Martha Rosler’s ruminations on feminist art in “The Private and the Public, Feminist Art in California,” Artforum 16, no. 1 (September 1977): 69. She maintains that the idea of a “community of all women” had more coinage with middle class women than those in the working class. 27 Mona Hadler, telephone conversation with Gretchen Herrmann, 23 September 2015. 28 Sarah Weddington, A Question of Choice (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1992), 35, cited in Herrmann, “Women’s Exchange in the U.S. Garage Sale,” 722. 29 Rosler, email to Hadler. 30 Gelber, Hobbies, 4. See also Matthew Tinkom, “Kitsch and the inexpensive,” in Possession Obsession:  Andy Warhol and Collecting, ed. John W.  Smith (Pittsburgh, PA: The Andy Warhol Museum, 2002), 52. 31 Kopytoff, “The Cultural Biography of Things,” 80. 32 Jennifer Price, Flight Maps, Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999). 33 Susan Sontag, “Notes on Camp,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays, 288. 34 Ibid., 292. 35 Dwight Macdonald, “Masscult and Midcult,” Partisan Review 27, no. 4 (Spring 1960): 203–​33.

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Notes to pages 181–185 36 Clement Greenberg, “Avant-​Garde and Kitsch,” Partisan Review 6, no.  5 (Fall 1939):  34–​49. He does not specifically refer to kitsch objects in this essay. 37 For a 1991 positive reappraisal of kitsch aesthetics, see, Celeste Olalquiaga’s essay, “The Dark Side of Modernity’s Moon,” available at: http://​www.celesteolalquiaga.com/​moon.html (accessed 19 June 2016). She draws heavily on Benjamin’s writing on kitsch. 38 These kitsch objects were not limited to the United States An undergraduate student of mine showed me one comparable to the Dazey Ice Crusher but inspired by Sputnik that her family had brought with them from the Soviet Union. Svetlana Boym discusses the role of objects in relation to nostalgia and immigration in “Immigrant Souvenirs,” in The Future of Nostalgia, 327–​36. 39 Umberto Eco, “The Structure of Bad Taste,” in The Open Work, trans. Anna Cancogni (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 195. 40 Ibid., 187–​8. 41 Ibid., 205. 42 See Jeffrey L. Meikle, Design in the USA (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 113–​14, for a summary of the debates over function and whimsy in regard to streamlining. 43 Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light, 122–​30. 44 Donald Albrecht, World War II and the American Dream, xl. Military and domestic items had been associated with one another during the forties, when advertisements portrayed them both as instruments in a battle to achieve a higher standard of living. See, for example, Cynthia Lee Henthorn, From Submarines to Suburbs, Selling a Better America, 1938–​1959 (Athens:  Ohio University Press, 2006); Brian S.  Alexander, Atomic Kitchen:  Gadgets and Inventions for Yesterday’s Cook (Tigard, OR: Collector’s Press Inc., 2004); and Hadler, “Lee Bontecou: Plastic Fish and Grinning Sawblades.” 45 Warhol’s collecting patterns were omnivorous and complex, and not just about camp and kitsch. For more on his collecting, see Smith, Possession Obsession: Andy Warhol and Collecting. 46 See Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 78–​9. 47 Buchloh, “From Yves Klein’s Le Vide to Arman’s Le Plein,” in Neo-​Avantgarde and the Culture Industry, 259. 48 Ibid., 276. 49 Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking my Library, A Talk About Book Collecting,” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, (New York: Schocken Books, 1955), 61. 50 Arman, reprinted in Paris-​New York (Paris, 1–​19 June 1977), 612. Translated and quoted in Carrick, Nouveau Réalisme, 87. 51 Buchloh, “From Yves Klein’s Le Vide to Arman’s Le Plein,” in Neo-​Avantgarde and Culture Industry, 278.

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Notes to pages 186–191 52 Faris, Uncommon Goods, 66. 53 “In Conversation: Martha Rosler with Sabine Breitwieser, Part 2: Stepping out from behind the proscenium arch,” in Garage Sale Standard 2 (November 2012), 13. 54 Martha Rosler, “In, around and afterthoughts (on documentary photography),” in The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, ed. Richard Bolton (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989), 303–​42. 55 Matha Rosler, “Installed in the Place of the Public,” Oxford Art Journal 24, no. 2 (2001): 59. 56 Martha Rosler, “On Obsolescence,” in Garage Sale Standard 2, 11. This essay appeared earlier in the 2002 issue of October on obsolescence. 57 She knew about Oldenburg’s The Store, but as a teenager in Brooklyn did not visit the installation. “In Conversation: Martha Rosler with Sabine Breitwieser,” Garage Sale Standard 1, 15. 58 Ibid., 13. 59 Martha Rosler, Panel Discussion at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 10 November 2012, available at:  http://​www.podcasts.com/​moma-​talks-​ panel-​discussions-​and-​symposia/​episode/​meta-​monumental-​garage-​sale-​ exploring-​value-​systems (accessed 25 September 2015). 60 Rosler, “Installed in the place of the public,” 66. 61 Ibid., 67. 62 Karen Moss, “Martha Rosler’s Photomontages and Garage Sales, Private and Public, Discursive and Dialogic,” Feminist Studies 39, no. 3 (2013): 693. In her second interview with Breitwieser, Garage Sale Standard 2 (2012), 13, Rosler references issues of performance in her work and that of others. 63 Alexander Alberro, “The Dialectics of Everyday Life,” in Martha Rosler: Positions in the Life World, ed. Catherine de Zegher (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 86. For some of Rosler’s theorizing on the notion of the audience, see “Lookers, Buyers and Makers: Thoughts on Audience,” in Martha Rosler, Decoys and Disruptions, Selected Writings: 1975–​2001 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 9–​52. The essay was first published in Exposure, 1979. 64 “In Conversation: Martha Rosler and Sabine Breitwieser, Part 2,” Garage Sale Standard 2 (2012), 13. In Rosler’s, email to Hadler, she indicated that she considers Herrmann’s portrayal of the garage sale as a Maussian form of gifting, as “a broader anthropological statement about the form in general.” 65 Rosler, Panel Discussion at MoMA. 66 Ibid., email to Hadler. 67 Ibid., Panel Discussion at MoMA. 68 Olav Velthuis, “The Museum and the Market,” Garage Sale Standard 2, 12. 69 Rosler, email to Hadler.

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Notes to pages 192–196

Conclusion 1 “Big Rental Pictures of 1964.” in Variety (6 January 1965), 39. Dr. Strangelove was rented by 4,148,000 distributors in the United States and Canada in 1964 for showings in movie theaters. 2 James Naremore, On Kubrick (London: British Film Institute, 2007), 120. 3 Stanley Kubrick, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema, 12. 4 Naremore, On Kubrick, 124. See also Fred Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 223 for Kahn on wargasm. 5 Kubrick, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema,” 12. 6 Naremore, On Kubrick, 122. 7 Ibid., 19. 8 Robert Carringer, “Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: A Guide to Study,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 8, no. 1 (Special Issue: Film III, Morality in Film and Mass Media) (January 1974): 46. 9 Susan Sontag, “Theater, etc.,” The Partisan Review (Spring 1974): 291. The film received good reviews in periodicals ranging from The New Yorker magazine to the New York Daily News. 10 Loudon Wainwright, “The Strange Case of Dr.  Strangelove,” Life 56, no.  11 (13 March 1964), 15. 11 J. Hoberman, The Dream Life, Movies, Media and the Mythology of the Sixties (New York: The New Press, 2003), 92–​4. He refers to an article by Robert Benton and David Newman, “The New Sentimentality,” Esquire (July 1964): 25–​31, which does not specifically discuss Strangelove. 12 For example, Warhol’s atomic bomb series and Rosenquist’s painting F-​111, both 1965. 13 Robert Brustein, “Out of This World,” New York Review of Books (6 February 1964): 4. 14 Kubrick, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema,” 12. 15 Ibid. 16 Ballard, Atrocity Exhibition, 1990, 9.

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Index

Page numbers in italics indicate illustrations. Titles of artworks will be found under the name of the artist. Abstract Expressionists, 9, 10, 24, 43–​4, 112, 202n78 Acconci, Vito, 18, 28–​9, 157–​67, 162, 231n96, 231n99, 231n102, 232n104, 232n106, 232n108, 232n111, 232nn113–​15, 232nn117–​18, 232–​3nn122–​133 Bad Dream House (1984), 166 House of Cars (1983/​1988), 28–​9, 161, 162, 165–​7, 167 Peoplemobile (1979), 28–​9, 160–​1, 162, 163–​5 action figures and dolls, 108–​14, 111 actor-​network theory, 21 Adorno, Theodor, 181, 202n78 adventure/​junk playgrounds, 128, 136–​42, 138 African Americans, 86, 131, 136, 175 aggression in childhood, 139, 228n48 Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), 16, 65 Airfix, 98, 111, 112, 113, 114 Alberro, Alexander, 236n63 Albrecht, Donald, 200n31, 235n44 Alexander, Brian S., 235n44 Alexander, Darsie, 227n38 Algerian War, 18, 120, 121, 130 Allen, Gwen, 231n100, 232n112

Allen, Lady, of Hurtwood, 138, 140, 227n42, 228n51 Allen, Thomas B., 73, 75, 85, 214n15, 214n19, 214n22, 214n24, 215n28, 215n30, 215n33, 215nn37–​8, 216n51, 216n63, 217nn66–​7 Alloway, Lawrence, 151 altruism, 215n35 Amaya, Mario, 61, 211n126 American Bosch Arma Corporation, 221n51 American Indians. See Native Americans American International Exhibition, Moscow (1959), 129 American New Left, 71 Ammon, Francesca Russello, 142–​6, 229nn59–​63, 229nn65–​6, 229n68 Amundson, Michael A., 198n18, 221n47 Anderson, Alexandra, 210n106 Andersson, K.S., 146, 229n65 Andre, Carl, 116 Andreotti, Libero, 213n14 Androck utensils, 149, 182, 183 Anker, Peder, 217n81 Ant Farm: Media Burn (1975), 65; Media Van (1971), 232n121 antidiscipline, 4, 16–​17, 24, 135, 168, 169, 189

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Index Antiques Roadshow (TV show), 173 Anton, Lorena, 200n33 apocalypse, fear of. See dystopian, post-​apocalyptic, and extinction fears Appadurai, Arjun, 20, 21, 41, 175, 181, 202nn70–​1, 234n13 Applin, Jo, 50, 209n81, 220n28, 228n48, 231n90 arcade games, 19, 114, 115 Archigram, 128, 161, 163, 166 Arendt, Hannah, 55, 209n98, 235n49 Arman (artist), 29, 122, 171, 172, 183–​6, 184, 185, 210n108, 224n101, 224n103, 235n47, 235n50, 235n51 Accumulations (early 1960s), 224n103 Le Plein (1960), 171, 172, 183–​4, 184 White Orchid (1963), 185 Armstrong, Elizabeth, 201n57, 210n111 Arnaud, Ercole, 200n34 Arnaz, Desi, 106 art, destruction in. See destruction in art and visual culture Art Workers Coalition (AWC), 23, 219n17 Arte Nucleare, 12–​13 Arthurs, Jane, 201n61 artificial intelligence, 79, 84 Ascott, Roy, 64 Atget, Eugene, 171, 233n7 atomic bomb. See nuclear weapons The Atomic Café (film, 1982), 5 atomic clock, 13 Atomium (1958 Brussels World’s Fair), 12, 62 Atoms for Peace, 12 Audio Fidelity Records, 57, 210–​11n112 Aurora Plastics Corporation, 98, 114

automobiles. See demolition derby automobility, 20, 45–​6, 201n62 Avalon Hill (company), 81, 82 Avery-​Fahlström, Sharon, 218n87 Aviation Week, 101 Baader-​Meinhof group, 29, 164–​5 Baker, George, 233n3 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 16, 56, 183, 210n103 Ball, Lucille, 106 Ballard, J. G., 2, 52–​3, 54, 109–​10, 122, 137, 157, 161, 163, 185, 194–​5, 197n3, 209nn83–​4, 209nn90–​91, 222n63, 227n40, 232n120, 237n16; The Atrocity Exhibition (1970/​1990), 1–​2, 28, 50, 161; Crash (1972), 28, 50, 161 Ballon, Hilary, 226n21 banger racing, 203n2 Banham, Reyner, 23–​4, 203n79, 205n21, 212n144 Banner Plastics, 102 Barash, Meyer, 207n52 Barbie, 25, 94, 108, 110 fiberglass figure and 108 Barry, Judith, 170, 233n4 Barthes, Roland, 33, 50, 99, 108, 123, 130, 148, 204n5, 209n82, 209n88, 220n30, 221n56, 226n13 Bataille, George, 41, 170, 207n46, 207n47 Baudelaire, Charles, 109 Bauhaus, 129 Baxter, Jeannette, 232n120 Bay of Pigs invasion, 72, 77 Bean, Robin, 203n82 Beatniks/​Beat poets, 11, 200n34 Becker-​Ho, Alice, 213–​14n14 Beckman, Karen, 206n31 Beinecke Plaza, Yale University, 154, 155

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Index Bel Geddes, Norman, 99, 220n27 Benjamin, Walter, 1, 23, 141, 184–​5, 197n1, 224n103, 229nn55–​6, 234n37, 235n49 Benton, Robert, 237n11 Bhagavad Gita, 199n20 bikinis and Bikini Atoll nuclear test, 5, 6, 195 Billboard (trade periodical), 35, 205n12 Bishop, Claire, 213n9, 222n76 Bissell, Richard M., Jr., 77, 101 Blunk, Frank M., 203n1 Bolton, Richard, 236n54 Bonin, Vincent, 160, 232n109 Bonnemaison, Sarah, 217n80 Bontecou, Lee, 4, 13, 27, 49–​50, 116–​18, 122–​6, 151, 208n72, 208n76, 209nn80–​1, 223nn86–​7, 223n92, 224nn109–​10, 224nn112–​15, 224nn117–​18, 225n120, 225nn122–​3, 228n48, 231n98, 235n44; Lincoln Center sculpture (1964), 125, 225n123 Borja-​Villel, Manuel J., 218n87, 218n89 Bourdieu, Pierre, 66, 207n46 Bourgeois, Louise, 228n48 Bourke-​White, Margaret, 89, 216n57 Bouvard, Émilie, 223n89 Boyer, Paul, 5–​8, 182, 197n12, 199n24, 235n43 Boym, Svetlana, 102, 221n46, 235n38 Braun, Werner von, 99, 100 Brazil, Cinema Novo in, 152 Brecht, Bertolt, 157, 163, 189 Brecht, George, Motor Vehicle Sundown (1960), 57 Breitwieser, Sabine, 189, 212n139, 236n53, 236n57, 236n62, 236n64 Breton, André, 141

Brinkley, David, 67, 222n65, 223n98 Broderick, Mick, 102, 216n46, 221n43 Brougher, Kerry, 198n15, 200n35, 200n37, 212n134, 212n142 Brown, Allison, 225n2 Brown, Timothy, 200n33 Brustein, Robert, 193–​4, 237n13 Bryan-​Wilson, Julia, 23, 116, 200n39, 200n41, 202n77, 207n46, 211n118, 219n17, 223n85, 234n22 Buchloh, Benjamin, 183–​5, 223n101, 230n86, 235n47, 235n51 Buck, Donne, 137, 138 Buddy “L” toy construction vehicles, 148 bulldozers, 5, 28, 128, 133, 142–​6, 144, 148, 153, 156–​7 Burden, George, 139, 228n46, 228n50 Burlingham, Dorothy T., 228n47 Burri, Alberto, 13 Burrows, Joelle, 200n34 Burton, Virginia Lee, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939), 143 Business Week, 99, 115–​16 Bussard, Katherine A., 227n44 Butler, Judith, 43 Byles, Jeff, 226n18 Byrd, William L., Jr., 218n4 Cage, John, 26, 57, 58, 90, 158, 211n116, 211n127 Caillois, Roger, 19, 26, 43, 54, 69, 70, 72, 79, 95, 207n52, 212n2, 213n7, 216n48, 219n13 Callen, Anthea, 233n6 camp, 29, 131, 171, 181, 183–​5, 233n2, 235n45 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 192 Camus, Albert, 53 Caniff, Milton, 73, 90

240

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Index capitalism de Certeau and, 17 demolition derby and, 25, 33, 41, 43, 49, 56, 57, 62, 64, 65, 66 garage sales and, 30, 170, 173, 175, 185–​9, 190 military games and, 72, 88, 90, 218n83 neocapitalism, 134 toys and hobbies and, 94–​5, 125 urban destruction and renewal and, 128, 134, 154, 160 carnivalesque, 12, 16, 17, 20, 24, 25, 27, 30, 33, 43, 56, 59, 63, 69, 72, 86, 113, 205. See Bakhtin, Mikhail. Carrick, Jill, 117, 171, 205n17, 209n95, 223n91, 223n94, 224n103, 224n106, 233n8, 235n46, 235n50 Carringer, Robert, 237n8 cars. See demolition derby Castillo, Greg, 129, 226n9 Castro, Fidel, 121 Caterpillar machines, 143, 148 catharsis and destruction, 20 Cecchetto, Stefano, 224n107 Celant, Germano, 230n88 Chamberlain, John, 56–​7, 86–​7, 210n107, 217n72 Chevrier, Jean-​François, 218n90, 218n92

“chicken,” 76–​8, 86, 152, 194–​5,

215n39, 216n46 childhood aggression, 139, 228n48 Chinese Cultural Revolution, 9, 65 Chow, Rey, 198n19 Cinema Novo, 152 civil rights movement, 9, 18, 112–​13 Clark, T. J., 203n78 Clarke, Sally, 205n19 class. See social class

Clausewitz, Karl von, 74, 214n25 cleansing motif in urban destruction and renewal, 130, 153 Clert, Iris, 183 Clowse, Barbara Barksdale, 229n61 Clynes, Manfred E., 208n73 Coca Cola, 146, 149 Cocteau, Jean, 6, 197n7 Cohen, Jean-​Louis, 220n27, 225n1 Cold War, as catalyst, 5–​6, 8–​9, 13, 18, 19, 23, 30, 196 collectors and collecting, 179–​83, 180, 186 Collier’s magazine, 5 Colomina, Beatriz, 226n14 Comics Code, 24, 38, 114 computer/​video games, 76, 84–​5, 114, 115 Concrete Poetry, 63 Conner, Bruce, 9, 13 Conniff, Richard, 207n49 consumer society and planned obsolescence, 7–​8, 21, 23, 28, 32, 35, 94, 151, 160, 168–​71, 183, 189, 190–​1, 205n23 Consumption Studies, 170 Conway, John, 84, 216n60 Coote, Jeremy, 219n18 Coppola, Ed, 149, 150 The Cosmic Butterfly, 47, 104 Costikyan, Greg, 70–​1, 213nn10–​11 craft and art, dialectic between, 116 Craigslist, 168 Crash cultures, 20, 201n61 creative destruction, concept of, 12–​17, 24, 127, 142 Creative Playthings, 219n6 Creveld, Martin van, 72, 213n3, 213n6, 214n16, 216n53, 217n66, 222n80 Cross, Gary, 219n7, 219n10, 219n22, 220n25, 221n44, 222n70, 229n70

241

242

Index CROSSROADS (film, 1976), 9 Crow, Thomas, 54, 208n70, 227n36 Crowley, David, 208n74 Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, 20–​1, 43, 202n64, 207n53, 213n9 Cuban Missile Crisis, 5, 13, 18, 72, 77, 78, 110, 111, 120, 192, 215n44 Cultural Revolution, China, 9, 65 Curley, John J., 54, 200n36, 203n83, 209n94, 215n43 Curry, John, 222n68 cyborgs, 46–​50, 161–​3, 194 Dada, 59, 62, 119, 153

“Damage Control” exhibition (2013),

8, 65, 198n15 Dazey Ice Crusher, 149–​50, 150, 182, 230n74, 235n38 de Certeau, Michel, 4, 17, 28, 65, 66, 95, 134–​5, 157, 169, 179, 189, 201n55, 212n143, 219n12, 227n29 de Coninck-​Smith, Ning, 201n63, 227n41 de Kooning, Willem, 203n78 De Landa, Manuel, 8, 77, 197n11, 215n36, 216n59 War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), 79 Dean, James, 53, 78, 79, 195 Debord, Guy, 26, 69, 71, 135, 213–​14nn13–​14, 227n34 Degas, Edgar, 108, 221nn58–​9 Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (1881), 108 Deller, Jeremy, The Battle of Orgreave (2001), 113 Deloria, Philip J., 222n77 dematerialization, 160 demolition derby, 25–​6, 32–​67 as antiproductive ritual, 1, 40–​5, 72, 88, 113;

242

art and, 4, 32–​3, 37, 49–​50, 54–​67, 58, 60, 163, 166 audience participation in, 32, 56, 70, 72 auto thrill shows and stunt shows compared, 34, 42, 205n14, 207n50 automotive crashes and, 37, 50, 52–​7, 55, 205n23, 206nn31–​2 automotive culture in America and, 45–​7, 53 automotive industry, as critique of, 36–​7, 38–​9, 42, 43, 65, 168–​9, 190 background and history, 34–​6, 203n2, 204n6, 204n10 blue-​collar/​working class audience for, 17, 32–​3, 42, 43, 66, 207n50, 212n144

“chicken” and, 76–​8, 86, 152,

215n39, 216n46 complex subjectivity of, 65–​7 costs associated with, 39; at county fairs, 32, 38, 56 as creative destruction, 24 cyborgs and, 47–​50 DIAS, work of, 26, 61–​5 Dr. Strangelove (film) and, 194 as family entertainment, 37–​8 as folk art, 45 game theory and, 26, 69–​71 gender and, 25, 43–​4, 44, 48–​9, 85 as iconoclash, 16, 17, 25, 33, 40, 46, 56, 58, 72 images of, 3, 37, 42 informal and temporary locations for, 56 junk playgrounds and, 142 lighthearted and ominous paired in, 16, 17, 19, 36–​7, 55–​6, 65 military games and, 26, 68–​72, 73–​4, 76–​80, 85, 86, 88, 92 Ortiz on, 61, 67

  243

Index demolition derby (cont.) as political military theater, 113 repetitive cycle of destruction, reconstruction and play in, 65–​6 rules of, 36–​7, 39; sexuality of automobile and, 45, 50–​2, 52 sounds of, 57–​8, 210–​11n112 as subculture, 44–​5, 208n62 Tinguely’s work and, 32–​3, 37, 62, 65–​7 trauma as subtext, 54–​6 trauma thrill, 37 Warhol, Orange Car Crash 14 Times (1963), 54, 55, 56 WWII and, 51, 62 dérive, 135, 153 Derrida, Jacques, 207n46 Descargues, Pierre, 223n89 destruction in art and visual culture, 1–​31, 192–​6 cathartic aspects of, 20 creative destruction, concept of, 12–​17, 24, 127, 142 defining visual culture, 22 Dr. Strangelove (film, 1963) and, 2, 30, 73, 83, 86, 90, 192–​6, 193, 195 ephemerality and ephemeral practices, 19, 22–​3, 128, 141, 157, 231n98 mass/​popular culture and, 23–​4, 202n74; material culture studies and, 20–​1, 22–​3, 170 myth, allusions to, 9–​10, 12 parallels between destructive acts of fifties and sixties and, 4–​9 temporal and spatial parameters, 9, 18–​19, 21–​2. See also demolition derby; feminism; garage sales;

gender; iconoclash; lighthearted and ominous, pairing of; military games; nuclear weapons; play; toys and hobbies; trauma; urban destruction and renewal Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), 26, 61–​5, 159, 168 Dewey, John, 138 Dezeuze, Anna, 230n79 Diamant, Lincoln, 37, 206n32 Dichter, Ernest, 51, 146, 209n87 Dille, Robert C., 221n40 Dines, Jim, 153, 210n99; Car Crash (1960), 56 Diserens, Corinne, 232n114 Disney, Disney films, and Disneyland, 12, 52, 62, 99, 100, 102, 200n32, 218n83 dolls and action figures, 108–​14, 111 Domino Theory, 8, 19, 32, 80, 86 Donovan, Wedge, 148 Dorfman, Ariel, 218n83 Doris, Sara, 233n2 Dos Passos, John, 6 Douglas Aircraft Company, 76 Doyle, Dane and Bernach (DDB), 46 Dr. Strangelove (film, 1963), 2, 30, 73, 83, 86, 90, 192–​6, 193, 195, 237n1, 237n9 Dresden, fire storming of, 7 Duchamp, Marcel, 159, 217n74 Large Glass or Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even (1923),  46, 65 Duck and Cover (propaganda film, early 1950s), 73 Dunnigan, James F., 85, 214n18, 216n64 Dwan, Virginia, 119, 223n99 Dworkin, Craig, 231n99 Dylan, Bob, 215n44

243

244

Index dystopian fears, 8, 11–​12, 78, 84, 102, 110–​11, 128, 166–​7, 214–​15n26 Earl, Harley, 35 Earthball, 71 Eccles, Tom, 227n38 Eco, Umberto, The Open Work (1964), 182, 235n39 Eichmann, Adolf, 18, 209n98 Einstein, Albert, 9 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 12, 115, 222n81 Ellis, Christopher, 222n67 Ellsberg, Daniel, 77 emergence, 84, 133, 216n61, 227n24, 227n28 enchantment of technology/​technology of enchantment, 96–​7, 123 Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1–​2, 122, 185 ephemerality and ephemeral practices, 19, 22–​3, 128, 141, 157, 231n98 Erector sets, 94 Eskenazi, Gerald, 206n29, 206n33 exchange systems. See gift and exchange systems Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), 65, 86, 159, 160 extinction fears, 8, 11–​12, 78, 84, 102, 110–​11, 128, 166–​7, 214–​15n26 Fahlström, Öyvind, 19, 26, 87–​8, 90–​2, 122, 190, 217n75, 218n84, 218nn86–​7, 218nn90–​1 The Cold War (1963-​5), 91, 91–​2 Falls, Susan, 43, 207n50, 207n55 Faris, Jaimey Hamilton, 202n72, 236n52 Fast, Omer, 75 Featherston, Bill, 41–​2

Featherstone, Donald, 110–​11, 113, 181, 222n68, 222n71,  222n73 Featherstone, Mike, 201n62, 208n64 Fehr, Ernst, 215n35 Felshin, Nina, 197n13 feminism: feminist theory, 21 garage sales and, 29, 171, 177–​9, 186, 187, 189, 234n22, 234n26 military games and, 85, 86, 116, 117, 223n91 problematization of gender in pre-​ feminist era, 27 Wages for Housework movement, 29, 177, 178. See also gender Ferguson, Russell, 198n15, 200n35, 212n134, 212n142 fiction, as element in play and gaming, 69–​70, 71, 79–​80, 84 Filou, Robert, 211n112 Fishbacher, Urs, 215n35 flamingos, plastic, 181 Flanagan, Mary, 87, 216n47, 216n49, 217n73, 222n79 Flash Bourne, Dora G., 224n110 Flash Gordon spaceships, 102, 125 flea markets, 29, 122, 171, 174, 183, 196

“flow,” 213n9

Fluegelman, Andrew, 213n12 Fluxus, 23, 26, 59, 63, 87–​8, 157, 159, 160, 188, 211n112, 232n107. See also specific artists Fontana, Lucio, 8 Foster, Hal, 54, 109, 209nn95–​6, 221n60, 221n62 Foucault, Michel, 75, 215n31 Frank, Peter, 212n136, 231n103 Frankfurt school, 23, 70, 206n31 Freeman, Jon, 216n52 Freud, Anna, 139, 228nn47–​8

244

  245

Index Freud, Sigmund, and Freudianism, 17, 51, 54, 55, 105, 109, 141, 210n99, 219n14 friction, as military concept, 73–​4, 84 Friedan, Betty, The Feminine Mystique (1963), 177 Friedrich, Jörg, 225n2 Frieling, Rudolph, 210n103 Fry, Edward F., 210n106 Fuller, Buckminster, 26, 88–​90, 92, 105, 217n76, 217n78, 217n81, 218n82 Dymaxion Map (1943), 89; "spaceship earth” concept, 105 World Game, 88–​9, 89 Furlong, William Barry, 204n8 Fusco, Coco, 234n16 Fussell, Paul, 6, 197n6, 197n8 Futurism, 37, 45, 203n31, 211n112 Gamboni, Dario, 15, 201n47 game theory, 26, 69–​71, 74, 76–​7, 92 garage sales, 29–​30, 168–​91 art and, 183–​91 background and history, 170–​5 collectors and collecting, 179–​83, 180, 186 consumer society and planned obsolescence, 168–​71, 183, 189, 190–​1 defined, 174 feminism and, 29, 171, 177–​9, 186, 187, 189, 234n22, 234n26 as game or recreational activity, 16–​17 gender and, 24–​5, 29, 175, 177–​9, 189, 234n16, 234n26 as gift and exchange systems, 24, 29, 173, 175–​7, 236n64 iconoclash and, 16, 185, 187 reuse/​recycle movement and environmental concerns, 174

Rosler, Martha, garage sale performances and photos of, 4, 29, 168, 169, 173, 177–​9, 186–​91, 187 scholarly research on, 174–​6 similar types of sales of used items compared, 174 social class and, 174, 175–​6 the uncanny and, 29, 171, 183 underground/​swap economy, development of, 17, 168, 171, 173, 179, 189 Gardner, Martin, 84, 216n60 Gartman, David, 205n19 Gasman, Lydia Csato, 197n9 Gelber, Steven, 95–​6, 179, 218n5, 219n15, 222n82, 234n30 Gell, Alfred, 96–​7, 123, 219n18 gender, 24–​5; Bontecou’s artworks and, 116–​17; demolition derby, 25, 43–​4, 44, 48–​9, 85 garage sales and, 24–​5, 29, 175, 177–​9, 189, 234n16, 234n26 military games, 85–​6, 217n66 Saint Phalle’s artworks and, 116, 117, 120, 224n106 sexuality of automobile and, 45, 50–​2, 52 spacesuits, cyborgian, 48–​9; toys and hobbies, 25, 27, 108, 115–​17, 120, 222n83 urban renewal and, 135. See also feminism General Motors (GM), 35–​6, 148, 168–​9, 206n19 George, Peter, 192 Ghamari-​Tabrizi, Sharon, 214n21 GI Joe, 6, 27, 94, 110, 113, 114, 121 Giacometti, Alberto, 90

245

246

Index gift and exchange systems demolition derbies, 41; garage sales, 24, 29, 173, 175–​7, 236n64 potlach ceremony, 41; reclamation of destruction in, 4, 17; swap/​underground economy, 17, 168, 171, 173, 179, 189 Gilbert, A. C., 103, 104, 221n48 Ginsberg, Allen, 215n44 Glaser, Lewis H., 93, 94, 116, 220n24 Glenn, John, 47, 48 Godard, Jean-​Luc, 187 Goldhamer, Herbert, 72, 214n17, 214n20, 215n32 Golding, William, Lord of the Flies (1954), 139 Goldman, Jonathan, 227n37 “good toy” tradition, 94, 219n6 Gordon, Elizabeth, 130, 226n10 graffiti art, 45 Graham, Thomas, 220n26, 220n29, 220n32, 220n34, 220n37 Grant, Iain, 201n61 Gray, Chris Hables, 208n73 Green, Julian, 197n7 Greenberg, Clement, 23, 94, 181, 203n78, 235n36 Greenwich Village, NYC, campaign to save, 131–​2, 132, 153 Griffith, Paddy, 110–​12, 222n68 Gropius, Walter, 129 Groys, Boris, 210n103 Grubbs, David, 211n112 guillotine toy, 114 Guillow, Paul, 97–​8, 219n21, 219n23 Guins, Raiford, 202n74, 227n36 guitars, Pete Townshend smashing, 1, 2, 4, 13–​14, 15, 33, 57–​8 Guston, Philip, 219n8 Gutman, Marta, 201n63, 226n15, 227n41

Haber, Heinz, 200n32 Hadler, Lucille, 51, 52 Hadler, Mona, 178, 190, 198n16, 208n72, 208n76, 209n80, 222n77, 223nn86–​7, 224n110, 224n112, 224n114, 224n117, 225n122, 229n72, 231n98, 232n104, 232n106, 232n111, 232n115, 232n118, 232n122, 232n124, 233n9, 233n127, 233n130, 233n132, 234n27, 234n29, 235n44, 236n64, 236n66, 236n69 Haller, Aurian, 41–​2, 43, 207n48, 207n51, 207n56, 210n106 Hamilton, Jaimey, 210n108, 224n111 Hamilton, Richard, 51 Handler, Ruth, 108 Hanhardt, John G., 200n40 Hanson, Duane, 109 Haraway, Donna J., 49, 52, 208nn76–​7 Hardt, Michael, 228n52 Hare, David, 218n88 Harman, Graham, 21, 202n67 Harvey, David, 131, 226n16 Hasbro, 94 Haskell, Barbara, 200n40 Hatter, Joseph, 216n50 Haus-​Rucker-​Co., 48, 128 Haussmann, Georges Eugène, 131, 133, 135, 226n17, 226n22 Hebdige, Dick, 44–​5, 208nn61–​2 Hell, Julia, 225n4, 229n54 Heller, Joseph, 193 Henthorn, Cynthia Lee, 235n44 Herriman, George, 91 Herrmann, Gretchen, 174–​7, 233–​4nn10–​14, 234n17, 234nn24–​5, 234nn27–​8, 236n64 Herzog, Werner, 137, 227n39 Heskett, John, 221n53

246

  247

Index Higgins, Dick, 158–​9 Highmore, Ben, 140–​2, 201n56, 219n12, 228nn52–​3, 229n58 Himes, Marty, 35, 205n14 Hiroshima bombing, 5–​6, 7, 9, 61, 102, 111, 182 historical reenactments, 113 hobbies. See toys and hobbies Hoberman, J., 193, 237n11 Hochdörfer, Achim, 230n86 Hodges, Donald Clark, 230n78 Holocaust, 7, 62, 64, 122, 221n38 Hooten, Bruce, 231n94 Hopkin, David, 230n79 Horowitz, Roger, 207n58 Houston, Jeanne Wakasuki, 228n45 Hoving, Kirsten A., 199n21 Huelsenbeck, Richard, 59, 211n119 Huizinga, Johan, 19, 26, 69–​70, 71, 79, 212n1, 213n4, 213n14 Hultén, Pontus, 117, 212n145, 223n88, 223n90, 223n93 humor. See lighthearted and ominous, pairing of Humphrey, Mark, 205n24 Hurd, Edith Thacher, Benny the Bulldozer (1947), 143, 145 Huyssen, Andreas, 211n118 hyperrealism in art, 109–​10 Iarocci, Louisa, 221n57, 222n77 iconoclash anti-​war protests and, 142 concept of, 2, 14–​19, 24, 29, 30, 197n4 demolition derby and, 16, 17, 25, 33, 40, 46, 56,  58, 72 garage sales and, 16, 185, 187 toys and hobbies and, 16, 95, 106, 114, 118, 125

urban destruction and renewal and, 16, 29, 140, 153, 157 Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (exhibition and catalogue, 2002), 2, 14–​15 Independent Group, This is Tomorrow exhibition (1956), 163 Indians, American. See Native Americans international Atlanticism, 129–​30 Islip Speedway, Long Island, 3, 18, 32, 34, 35, 36, 57, 61 Jackson, Kenneth T., 132, 226n21 Jacobs, Jane, 28, 84, 130–​4, 132, 143, 153, 157, 227n24, 227n27, 227n30 The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), 131 James, Martin S., 35, 205n15 Janov, Arthur, 59, 211n120 Japanese beetles, 130 Jewett, Robert, 43, 207n54 Jodorowsky, Alejandro, 212n135 Johns, Jasper, 157, 209n93, 230n77 Johnson, Buddy “The Body Man,” 42 Johnson, Philip, 125 Johnson, Randall, 230n83 Johnson, Steven, 134, 216n61, 227n24 Jones, Amelia, 223n91, 224n102 Jones, Caroline, 14–​15, 200n45 Joselit, David, 22, 106, 202n74, 208n66, 221n55 Joseph, Branden W., 211n115 “junk aesthetic,” 151 junk/​adventure playgrounds, 128, 136–​42, 138 Kaempfert, Waldemar, 199n28 Kahn, Douglas, 57, 210n111

247

248

Index Kahn, Herman, 192, 214n18, 214n21, 237n4 Kaplan, Fred, 237n4 Keats, John, 51, 209n86 Ken doll, 110 Kendall, Richard, 221n59 Kender, Janos, 118, 119, 120, 172, 184 Kennedy, John F., 52, 121, 192 Kerouac, Jack,On the Road (1951/​ 1957), 53 Kessler, Marni, 226n22 Khrushchev, Nikita, 121, 129, 192 Kienholz, Edward, 110, 152 Kim Phuc, 9 Kinchin, Juliet, 219n6 King, Chad, 206n36 “Kitchen Debate” (1959), 129, 144 kitsch, 5, 23, 94, 119–​20, 181–​3, 186, 235n45, 235nn36–​8 Klein, Melanie, 139, 228n48 Klein, Yves, 12, 13, 200n34, 200n37, 224n101, 235n47, 235n51 Fire Paintings (1961-​2), 13 Klemek, Christopher, 127, 131, 225n3, 226n19 Kline, Nathan S., 208n73 Klüver, Billy, 65, 159, 212n145 Knoll Associates, 129 Kopytoff, Igor, 20, 21, 40–​1, 123, 181, 202n71, 207n43, 234n31 Korean War, 8, 18, 74 Koslovsky, Roy, 227n41, 228n46 Kotz, Liz, 210n109 Kozloff, Max, 87, 217n71 Kozlovsky, Roy, 140 Krazy Kat, 91, 218n88 Kriegsspiel, 68, 213–​14n14 Kubrick, Stanley, 2, 30, 67, 73, 86, 192–​6, 193, 195, 203n82, 237nn2–​6, 237n8, 237n14 Kuh, Katharine, 226n8

Lao, She, 198n19 Laszlo, Paul, Atomville (1950), 10 Latour, Bruno, 14–​18, 21, 29, 38, 40, 126, 153, 165, 197n4, 201n46, 201n47, 201n49, 201n51, 202nn66–​7, 206n35, 207n42 “What Is Iconoclash? Or Is There a World beyond the Image Wars?” (2002), 2 Lawrence, John, 43, 207n54 Le Corbusier, 129 Learning from Las Vegas (Venturi, Izenour, and Scott Brown, 1972), 161 Lee, Pamela M., 92, 212n128, 213n12, 217n71, 218n93, 231n96 Lee, Richard, 155 Lefebvre, Henri, 95, 134, 213n9, 219n11, 225n121, 227nn31–​2 Léger, Fernand, 35, 56, 210n106 Legos, 94, 219n6, 219n10, 220n31 leisure time, new availability of, 93, 95, 219n17 Leja, Michael, 199n22 Leo, Vince, 198n18 Leonard, Zoe, 170, 233n5 Lesser, Robert, 221n39, 221n50 Levine, Les, Disposables (1966), 186 Lewin, Christopher George, 222n74 Life (board game), 84–​5, 133 Life magazine, 83, 89, 99, 187, 193 lighthearted and ominous, pairing of anti-​war protests, 142 demolition derby, 16, 17, 19, 36–​7, 55–​6, 65 destruction in art and visual culture exhibiting, 2–​4, 9, 12, 13, 16–​17, 19 in Dr. Strangelove (film, 1963), 192–​6, 193

248

  249

Index in Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), 186 urban destruction and renewal, art of, 151, 159–​60, 165, 167 whimsical household items naturalizing destruction, 149–​50, 150, 183–​4, 235n38 Lincoln Logs, 94 Lindbergh, Charles, 219n22 Linker, Kate, 232n113, 233n126 Lippard, Lucy, 160, 232n109, 234n22 Loader, Jayne, 5 Loewy, Raymond, 36, 205n20 Lowenburg, Bill, 35, 45, 204n12, 205n13, 206n25, 206n27, 206n41, 208n63 Luckhurst, Roger, 232n120 Lucky Dragon, 199n28 Ludwig, Edward, film The Fighting Seabees 146, 148 Luna Park, Paris, 1–​2, 122, 185 Lyotard, Jean-​François, 218n93 Mac Low, Jackson, 158 Macdonald, Dwight, 23–​4, 181, 203n79, 234n35 Maciuika, John, 208n60 Maciunas, George, 59, 87, 158, 159, 163, 211n117, 231n101, 232n107 Macy, Christine, 217n80 Mad Max (film, 1979), 29, 166 Mad Men (TV show), 133 Malevich, Kazimir, 185 Mamiya, Christin J., 230n75 Manhattan Project, 10, 199n20 Mann, Irving, 214n18 Manzanar, 228n45 Manzoni, Piero, 12 Mao Tse-​tung, 65 Marcuse, Herbert, 95, 155, 219n14

Marling, Karal Ann, 51, 203n80, 209n85, 209n87, 217n65, 222n81 Marsden, Michael T., 206n34 Marter, Joan, 198n14, 201n59 Marx, Karl, 141, 188, 199n19 Marx Brothers, 159 Marx Playsets, 222n70 mass marketing, 6, 19, 21, 23, 27, 75, 110, 111, 112, 179 mass/​popular culture and destruction, 4, 23–​4, 95–​6, 202n74, 218n83 material culture studies, 20–​1, 22–​3, 170 Matta-​Clark, Gordon, 156, 231n96 Splitting (1974), 156 Mattel, 94, 110 Mattelart, Armand, 218n83 Mauss, Marcel, 41, 174, 175, 184, 189, 236n64 Mayer, Bernadette, 158, 231n99 Mayer, Musa, 219n8 Maysles, Albert and David, 87 McCarthyism, 8, 105, 146, 150 McClintock, Anne, 130, 226n11 McDonough, Tom, 135, 226n22, 227n33 McEnaney, Laura, 199n23 McLeod, Mary, 125, 134, 225n121, 227n31 McLuhan, Marshall, 46, 51, 55, 208n67, 208n69, 209n88, 210n100 McNamara, Robert, 72, 76 McNay, Anna, 232n105 Meier, Kurt von, 61, 67, 206n26, 211n127 Meikle, Jeffrey L., 235n42 Méliès, Georges, 37 Mellor, Leo, 228n54 Mendelsohn, Larry, 34–​5, 204n6, 204n9 Mesch, Claudia, 151, 217n74, 230n80

249

250

Index Metropolitan Wargamers, 216n50, 222n70 Metzger, Gustav, 20, 26, 62–​3, 64, 159, 168, 201n60, 211n116, 212nn129–​30, 212n139, 232n105, 233n1 Michelson, Annette, 209n96 military and domestic items, pairing of, 235n44 military games, 26, 68–​92; armed forces, war games played by, 68, 72–​80, 85–​6, 214n18 in art, 86–​92 board games, 75, 80–​6, 81 defining, 75 demolition derby and, 26, 68–​72, 73–​4, 76–​80, 85, 86, 88, 92 game theory and, 26, 69–​71, 74, 76–​7, 92 gender and, 85–​6, 217n66 historical reenactments, 113 nuclear weapons and, 76–​7, 79, 82–​3, 92 simulation games, computerized, 84–​5 social climate shifting away from, 71 the uncanny and, 70, 79, 213n5; in World War II, 75–​6 military-​industrial complex, 8, 25, 30–​1, 47, 72, 87, 95, 126, 148, 155 Miller, Daniel, 21, 201n63, 202n69, 209n89 Miller, George, 166 minorities garage sales and, 175; hobbies and, 112 play and, 136 urban destruction and renewal and, 130, 131, 146, 149, 226n15 Mirzoeff, Nicholas, 202n73, 226n11, 230n82 Miss Atomic Bomb, Nevada, 5

models and model kits, 94–​5, 97–​102, 100, 101, 106, 123–​5, 124, 156, 179–​80, 180 modernism, 15, 128–​30, 137, 153, 157, 161, 163, 167, 181–​2, 202n78 Mogilevich, Mariana, 227n44 Monchaux, Nicholas de, 48, 208n75 Monet, Claude, 133 Monopoly (board game), 85, 90 Montañez Ortiz, Raphael, 26, 59–​61, 63, 67, 159, 211n119, 211nn121–​6 Piano Destruction (1966), 59, 60 Mori, Masahiro, 27, 70, 79, 105, 109, 213n5, 221n52, 221n61 Morineau, Camille, 223n89, 223n91, 224n107 Morris, Catherine, 160, 232n109 Moses, Robert, 28, 130–​5, 138, 143, 153, 225n123, 226n15, 226n17, 226n21 Moss, Karen, 236n62 Mouffe, Chantal, 217n70 Mound Metalcraft Company, 145, 148 A MOVIE (film, 1958), 13 Muehl, Otto, 63 Mulas, Hugo, 124, 224n117 Murray, Scott, 226n23 mushroom cloud, as image, 6, 9, 47 Mutual Assured Deterrence/​ Destruction (MAD), 77, 192 Mutual Security Act (MSA), 129 myth, nuclear weapons and allusions to, 9–​10, 12 Nader, Ralph, 53 Nagasaki bombing, 6, 7, 9, 102, 111 Nagumo, Chuichi, 76 Naremore, James, 237n2, 237n4, 237n6 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966), 53 Native Americans Pontiac hood ornaments, 148–​9, 149

250

  251

Index potlach ceremony, 41 as toy action figures, 112–​13 Nazis, 7, 9, 18, 62, 99, 122, 136, 165, 228n45 Nelson, George, 13 neocapitalism, 134 Neo-​Dada, 28, 151, 152, 159 Nesbit, Molly, 171, 233n7 Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), 64 Neumann, John von, 76, 84, 88, 90 Nevelson, Louise, 151 New Games Foundation, 71 New Haven, CT, urban destruction and renewal in, 155–​6 New Media, New Forms exhibition (1960), 151 New York City, urban renewal in. See urban destruction and renewal New York Housing Act (1949), 132 Newman, Barnett, Pagan Void (1946), 10 Newman, David, 237n11 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 15 Nitsch, Hermann, 63 Nixon, Mignon, 228n48 Nixon, Richard, 129 No Direction Home (Scorsese film, 2005), 215n44 Noguchi, Isamu, 137 Norton-​Honer (toy company), 102 Nouveau Réalisme, 120, 171 “nuclear family,” 10 Nuclear War (board game), 83 nuclear weapons art and visual culture affected by, 5–​6, 9–​13; Cuban Missile Crisis, 5, 13, 18, 72, 77, 78, 110, 111, 120, 192,  215n44 Dr. Strangelove (film, 1963), 2, 30, 73, 83, 86, 90, 192–​6, 193, 195

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 5–​6, 7, 9, 61, 102, 111, 183 MAD (Mutual Assured Deterrence/​ Destruction), 77, 192 military games and, 76–​7, 79, 82–​3, 92 model kits for nuclear submarines, 100, 101, 104, 105–​6, 124, 124–​5 mushroom cloud, as image, 6, 9, 47 myth, allusions to, 9–​10 resurfacing in art exhibitions in 2013, 8 safety plans and drills, 10–​11, 11, 59, 73, 211n118 scientific exploration and progress, initial identification with, 12, 198n17 television and press coverage of test explosions, 1–​2, 9 test explosions, 1–​2, 5, 6, 10, 18, 67, 106–​8, 107, 199n20, 199n28 toys and hobbies and, 102–​6, 103, 104, 110–​12, 121, 124, 124–​5 Warhol’s atomic bomb series, 237n12. See also dystopian, post-​ apocalyptic, and extinction fears O’Brien, Tim, 206n40 Obrist, Hans Ulrich, 201n60 O’Connor, Aidan, 219n6, 221n45 Ogata, Amy F., 219n6 oil crisis of 1973–​4, 177 Olalquiaga, Celeste, 234n37 Oldenburg, Claes, 28, 152–​7, 225n123, 230nn85–​8, 231nn90–​1, 231nn94–​5 Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969), 154–​7, 155 Ray Gun performance series (1960), 154 The Store (1961), 186, 188, 236n57 The Street (1960), 152–​4, 154, 157

251

252

Index Oldenziel, Ruth, 201n59 Oliva, Achille Bonito, 211n117, 231n101, 232n107 ominous and lighthearted paired. See lighthearted and ominous, pairing of Ono, Yoko, 24, 63, 200nn39–​41, 207n46, 211n116 Cut Piece (1964), 13, 63, 87, 88, 207n46 Operation Doorstop, 106–​8, 107 operations research (OR), 76 Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 199n20 Orton, Fred, 209n93, 230n77 Osborne, John, 229n56 Page, Max, 128–​29, 225n7 Paik, Nam June, 2, 33, 57, 158 paint-​by-​numbers kits, 93–​94, 115 Paul, Frank, 102, 221n41 Pavitt, Jane, 208n74 Pearl Harbor, 75–​76, 99 Peyton-​Jones, Julia, 201n60 Phillips, Harlan B., 199n21 Phillpot, Clive, 201n60 Picasso, Pablo, 197n9; Guernica, 7 Pickens, Slim, 192, 193 Picture Post, 128, 140, 227n42 planned obsolescence and consumer society, 7–​8, 21, 23, 28, 32, 35, 94, 151, 160, 168–​71, 183, 189, 190–​91, 205n23 plastic flamingos, 181 play Acconci’s artworks and, 166 adventure/​junk playgrounds in urban spaces, 128, 136–​42, 138 cheating and, 79 defining play, 69 destruction in art and visual culture as, 19, 24, 30

as flow experience, 213n9 freedom, play as, 95 game theory and, 26, 69–​71 politically contested area, play as, 138–​9 reclamation of destruction in, 4, 17 unproductiveness of play, 43 play theorists, 19, 26, 95 Pollock, Jackson, 53, 112, 129, 133, 199n21, 224n102 Pontiac hood ornaments, 148–​9, 149 Pop Art, 112, 122, 182, 192, 233n2 popular/​mass culture and destruction, 4, 23–​4, 95–​6, 202n74, 218n83 Posman, Jerald, 204n9, 206n28 post-​apocalyptic fears, 8, 11–​12, 78, 84, 102, 110–​1, 128, 166–​7, 214–​15n26 postmodernism, 202–​3n78 potlach ceremony, 41 power tools, as hobby, 93 Pratt, Fletcher, 85 Prelinger, Megan, 220n35, 221n51 Price, Jennifer, 181, 234n32 Prisoner’s Dilemma, 74, 76–​7, 92, 218n93 public space, destruction in. See urban destruction and renewal Puff, Helmut, 229n54 pulp science fiction artists, 101–​2, 104–​5 Pym, Barbara, 171 Rafferty, Kevin and Pierce, 5 Ramirez, Yasmin, 211n124 RAND Corporation, 26, 72–​8, 80, 82, 85, 86–​7, 113, 217n72 Rapaport, Brooke Kamin, 199n24 Rauschenberg, Robert, 65, 151, 159, 211n115 Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), 58

252

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Index Ray, Nicholas, 78, 216nn45–​6 Reagan, Ronald, 140 Rebel Without a Cause (film, 1955), 26, 78, 79, 102, 194–​5, 216nn45–​6 Red Army Faction (RAF), 165 red power movement, 112–​13 reenactments, historical, 113 Reff, Theodore, 221n58 Reinecke, Jean, 149, 150, 230n74 Reinecke Sedory, Barbra Jean, 150, 230n74 Reinhardt, Mark, 201n48 Rendall, Steven, 201n55 reuse/​recycle movement, 174 Revell model kits, 4, 8–​101, 26–​7, 75, 93, 94, 101, 105–​6, 114, 180 Rhodes, Edward, 215n39 Rhodes, Richard, 7, 197n10 Richter, Gerhard, 165, 200n36, 215n43 October 18, 1977 (1988), 165 Rickover, Hyman G., 100, 124, 220n34 Rilke, Rainer Maria, 109 Ringgold, Faith, 136 Rist, Pipilotti, Ever is Over All (1997), 16 Roberts, Charles S., 81 Robinson, Julia, 223n100 robotics, 70, 79, 105, 109, 213n5 Rocha, Glauber, 152, 230n84 Rodenbeck, Judith F., 210n99, 210n101, 227n26 Roe v. Wade (1973), 178 Rolnik, Suely, 218n87, 218n90 Rose, Barbara, 152, 230n85, 231n95 Rosenberg, Bernard, 23, 94, 202n78 Rosenquist, James, 51, 233n2, 237n12 F-​111 (1965), 237n1251 Rosler, Martha, 168–​9, 173, 173, 177–​9, 186–​91, 187, 199n29, 231n96, 233n9, 233n11, 234n26, 234n29, 236n53, 236nn54–​7, 236nn59–​60, 236nn62–​7

Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful (1967–​72), 187–​8 garage sale performances and photos, 4, 29, 168, 169, 173, 177–​9, 186–​91, 187 Meta-​Monumental Garage Sale (2012), 177, 186, 187, 234n16 Monumental Garage Sale (1973), 188 on nuclear weapons protests, 11 Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), 186 Travelling Garage Sale (1977), 188 Ross, Kristin, 130, 203n2, 226n12 Roszak, Theodore, 10, 199n21 Roth, Ed (Big Daddy), 61 Rothberg, Michael, 54, 101, 114, 209n97, 221n38, 222n78 Rubbish Theory, 170 ruins, 127, 128, 135, 136–​42, 151, 195, 228–​9n54 Ruscha, Ed, Royal Road Test (1967), 65 Rusk, Howard A., 229n73 Russell, Bertrand, 77 Russolo, Luigi, 211n112 Sagan, Francoise, 53 Saint Phalle, Niki de, 110, 116–​22, 118, 119, 153, 198n16, 208n79, 209n81, 223nn88–​93, 223n95, 224n103, 224nn106–​7 Gordo in New York (1962), 118–​19 Hommage au Facteur Cheval (Homage to Postman Cheval; 1962), 121 King Kong (1963), 118–​19, 121 OAS (1962), 121 Tir performances (early 1960s), 4, 27, 30, 49, 67, 117–​18, 118, 119, 119–​22, 224n102 Salen, Katie, 217n73 Salisbury cathedral, matchstick model of, 96–​7 San Francisco War Resisters League, 71

253

254

Index Sandler, Irving, 210n107 Saunders, Nicholas J., 22, 202n76, 230n76 Savage, Jeff, 206n39 Schachter, Kenny, 232n108, 232n117, 233n129, 233n133 Schelling, Thomas, 77, 215n40 Schiller, Friedrich, 95 Schimmel, Paul, 198n15, 200n38 Schnapp, Jeffrey T., 37, 206n30 Schönle, Andres, 225n4, 229n54 Schumpeter, Joseph, 128 science fiction, toys, and hobbies, 101–​2, 104–​5 Scientific American, 47, 84, 208n71, 216n60 scientific exploration and progress, cultural belief in, 12, 96–​7, 123, 143–​4, 146, 198n17, 200n34, 214–​15n26 Scorsese, Martin, 215n44 Seabees, 28, 146–​8, 147 Segal, George, 110 Seitz, William, Art of Assemblage (1961), 151 Serling, Rod, 208n74 Serra, Richard, 159; Prisoner’s Dilemma (video, 1971), 218n93 Sganzerla, Rogerio, 152 Shackleford, Ben A., 207n58 Shannon, Joshua, 153, 225n123, 230n87, 231nn90–​1 Shapiro, Jerome F., 199n26, 221n42 Shearer, Linda, 233n131 Shohat, Ella, 152, 230n82 Shomi, Meiko, 211n114 Shunk, Harry, 119, 120, 172, 184 Simpson, Mary Caroline, 226n8 Situationists, 23, 71, 86, 135, 153, 166, 213n13, 227nn33–​4

skateboarding and surfboarding, 135–​6, 227n36 Skidmore Owings and Merrill, 154 Skinheads, 44–​5 Sloan, Alfred P., Jr., 35, 205n18 Slocum, J. David, 216n46, 221n43 Smith, David, 44, 207n57 Smith, Elizabeth A. T., 208n72 Smith, John W., 234n30, 235n45 Smithson, Alison and Peter, 35, 133, 205n16, 227n25 Smithson, Robert, 156, 231n96 Snelson, Kenneth, Portrait of an Atom (1960), 200n34 social class collecting and, 179, 181, 218n3 demolition derby, blue-​collar/​ working class audience for, 17, 32–​3, 42, 43, 66, 207n50, 212n144, 216n58 destruction and, 29 garage sales and, 24, 174, 175–​6 urban renewal and, 130, 135 Social Realism, 136 Something Else Press, 63, 158, 159 Song Dong, Waste Not (2009), 186 Sontag, Susan, 5, 11, 29, 55–​6, 153, 171, 181, 183, 193, 199n27, 210n102, 231n89, 234n33, 237n9 Sorensen, Carl Theodor, 137–​8 Sorkin, Michael, 200n31 space exploration design of spacesuits, 47–​50, 48 space race, 47, 74, 99, 100, 144 “spaceship earth” concept, 105 SpaceWar (arcade game), 19, 114, 115; toys, 102–​3 Sparke, Penny, 203n79, 205n21 Speaks, Elyse, 123, 224n113 Speier, Hans, 214n17, 214n20, 215n32

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Index Spiegelman, Art, Maus (1980), 101, 114, 221n38 Spigel, Lynn, 216n58 The Spiral Jetty (film, 1970), 156 Splitnik, 129 Sputnik, 74, 102, 133, 235n38 Stam, Robert, 152, 230nn82–​3 Steel, John, 180, 180 Steiner, Jules Nicholas, 108 Stiles, Kristine, 59, 64, 197–​8n13, 198n18, 201n57, 211n121, 212n139 Stitch, Sidra, 200n34 Stratton, Margaret, 197n5 Strege, Gayle, 221n57 Stuckey, Charles, 223n99 Sturken, Marita, 202n75 suburbs, expansion of, 28, 127, 129, 130, 133, 136, 174 Surrealists and Surrealism, 1, 87, 109, 119, 163, 171, 183, 184, 185, 217n74, 221n60, 229n55 Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), 64 Sutton-​Smith, Brian, 70, 213n10, 216n47 swap/​underground economy, 17, 168, 171, 173, 179, 189 Swenson, Kirsten, 225n123 Systems Development Corporation, 47 Szasz, Suzanne, 143, 144 Szilard, Gertrud Weiss and Leo, 198n17 Tactics and Tactics II (board game), 81, 81–​3, 90, 92, 114, 194 Tasker, Yvonne, 217n69 Taut, Bruno, 129 technology cultural belief in, 12, 96–​7, 123, 143–​4, 146, 198n17, 200n34, 214–​15n26

Teddy Boys, 44 television, 1–​2, 9, 106. See also specific TV shows Terranova, Charissa, 208n68 Automotive Prosthetic (2014), 46, 209n88 Thatcher, Margaret, 140 The Who, 2, 4, 13, 33, 58, 63. See also Townshend, Pete theory of moments, 213n9 Thomas, Ellen Steel, 180 Thomas, Jeannie Banks, 203n81, 222n66 Thompson, Jenny, 216n64 Thomson, Matthew, 227n43, 228n49 Thorne, Gordon, 231n93 Time magazine, 9 Tinguely, Jean, 26, 62, 65–​7, 110, 119, 120, 157, 159, 179, 196, 212n145, 223n92, 232n105 Homage to New York (1960), 2, 3, 4, 30, 32–​3, 37, 62, 65–​6, 196 Study for the End of the World No. 2 (1962), 66, 67, 119 Tinkertoys, 94 Tinkom, Matthew, 234n30 Tinsley, Frank, 47, 101, 104–​5,  221n51 Titus, A. Constandina, 198n18 Tomkins, Calvin, 204n4 Tonka Trucks, 5, 28, 145–​8, 146, 229n64 Tortorici, Dayna, 177, 234n21, 234n23 Townshend, Pete, 1, 2, 4, 13–​14, 15, 33, 57–​8, 62–​4, 78, 127, 197n2, 200n42, 201n50, 211n113, 212n132, 215n44 toys and hobbies, 26–​7, 93–​126 in art, 4, 116–​26, 118–​20, 124, 156 blurring of real and imagined, 103–​8, 107

255

256

Index Twenty-​One (TV quiz show, 1958), 80 The Twilight Zone (TV show), 208n74

toys and hobbies (cont.) collectors and collecting, 179–​83, 180 craft and art, dialectic between, 116 cultural critiques of, 93–​5, 99–​100 dolls and action figures, 108–​14, 111 Dr. Strangelove (film), hobbyist audience for, 194 enchantment of technology/​ technology of enchantment, 96–​7, 123 gender and, 25, 27, 108, 115–​17, 120, 222n83 “good toy” tradition, 94, 219n6 government censorship of accurate models, 100–​1, 103–​4, 220n34 iconoclash, concept of, 16, 95, 106, 114, 118, 125 leisure time, new availability of, 93, 95 models and model kits, 94–​5, 97–​102, 100, 101, 106, 123–​5, 124, 156, 179–​80, 180 nuclear weapons and, 102–​6, 103, 104, 110–​12, 121, 124, 124–​25 plastics, introduction of, 27, 98–​9, 222n70 pulp science fiction artists and, 101–​2, 104–​5 space and nuclear toys, 102–​3, 103, 104 the uncanny and, 27, 105–​6, 108–​9 urban destruction and renewal and, 5, 28, 142–​8, 145 war and military related, 95–​6 trauma automotive crashes, 52–​6, 55 destruction in art and visual culture associated with, 19–​20, 28 DIAS and, 64 toy figurines and traumatic realism, 101, 114 Tuchman, Maurice, 217n71 Tuchman, Phyllis, 210n107, 217n72

U-​238 Atomic Energy Lab toy (1950), 103, 104 the uncanny and the uncanny valley, 27, 29, 70, 79, 105–​6, 108–​9, 171, 183, 213n5, 221n60 underground/​swap economy, 17, 168, 171, 173, 179, 189 urban destruction and renewal, 27–​9, 127–​67 adventure/​junk playgrounds, 128, 136–​42, 138 art and, 150–​67, 154, 156, 162, 167. See also specific artists bulldozers, 5, 28, 128, 133, 142–​6, 144, 148, 153, 156–​7 cleansing motif, 130, 153; consumer society and planned obsolescence, 28, 151 creative destruction, concept of, 127 design principles, 129–​30 ephemerality and, 128, 141, 157 gender and, 135 iconoclash and, 16, 29, 140, 153, 157 minorities and, 130, 146, 149, 226n15 in New Haven, CT, 155–​6 opposition to, 131–​6, 132, 153 parallels between destructive acts and ephemeral practices, 5 postwar real estate development in America, 128–​36 ruins, 127, 128, 135, 136–​42, 151, 195, 228–​9n54 Seabees, interest in exploits of, 28, 146–​48, 147 social class and, 130, 135 suburbs, expansion of, 28, 127, 129, 130, 133, 136

256

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Index visual culture, destruction in. See destruction in art and visual culture Volkswagen campaign, 1960 (DDB), 46 Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., 193 Vostell, Wolf, 63–​4, 151, 210n101, 212n137 Tour de Vanves. Das Theater ist auf der Strasse (1958), 151

toys and children’s books and, 5, 28, 142–​8, 145 vest-​pocket parks, 228n44 Vietnam War protests in Central Park and, 142, 143 whimsical household items naturalizing destruction, 149–​50, 150 World War II bomb damage and postwar reconstruction, 127–​30 Urry, John, 46, 201n62, 208n65 USS Abraham Lincoln (nuclear submarine), 100, 101 USS Skipjack (SSN-​585; nuclear submarine), 27, 105, 124, 124–​5

Wages for Housework movement, 29, 177, 178 Wainwright, Loudon, 193, 237n10 war games. See military games Wargames (film, 1983), 79 wargasm, 192, 195 Warhol, Andy, 24, 29, 67, 129, 161, 163, 171, 183, 200n36, 209n96, 210n101, 215n43, 234n30, 235n45, 237n12 atomic bomb series, 237n12; Orange Car Crash 14 Times (1963), from Death and Disaster series, 54, 55, 56 Waters, John, 181 Wayne, John, 148

V-​2 Rocket, 99, 100 Vanderbilt, Tom, 199n25, 221n54 Vardi, Itai, 34, 35, 204nn10–​12, 205n23, 207n50, 209n92, 222n75 Velthuis, Olav, 236n68 video/​computer games, 76, 84–​5, 114, 115 Vidler, Anthony, 127–​8, 217n79, 225n4 Vienna Actionism, 63 Vietnam War and anti-​war movement “Accidental Napalm Attack” (photo, 1972), 9 AWC and, 23 creative destruction, protests as form of, 142, 143 demolition derby and, 33, 61 military games and, 74, 86–​7 Rosler’s use of images from, 186–​7 as terminus of study, 9, 12, 18 urban destruction and renewal, art of, 154–​7, 155, 160 Virilio, Paul, 10, 199n25, 206n31 Virno, Paolo, 140–​1, 228n52

“We are Building a Better Life” exhibition (West Germany, 1952), 129 Weart, Spencer R., 198n17, 199n30, 200n32 Weddington, Sarah, 178, 234n28 Weibel, Peter, 14, 197n4, 201n47 Weiner, Milton G., 215n27, 215n29 Weiss, Jeffrey, 199n20 Welles, Orson, 102 Wells, H. G., 82, 102, 110, 112, 120, 198n17, 216n62, 222n67, 222n72 Little Wars (1913/​1970), 68, 85, 112, 216n62 War of the Worlds, radio version (1938) of, 102

257

258

Index Wertham, Fredric, 24 West, Franz, 136, 227n38 Westerman, H. C., 220n28 White, David Manning, 23, 94, 202n78 Whiting, Cécile, 121, 198n16, 201n58, 208n79, 223n99, 224n104 Wide World of Sports (ABC TV show), 34, 67, 135, 215n42 Willard, Michael Nevin, 135, 227n36 Williams, Emmett, 158 Williams, Raymond, 155 Williams, Tom, 155, 231nn92–​3, 231n97 Willys’s Jeeps, 146, 147 Wilson, Andrew, 214n18 Wilson, Doug, 215n42 Wilson, Sarah, 224n107 Winnicott, Donald, 139, 228n48 Wolfe, Tom, 34, 43, 56, 204n6, 210n104 women. See feminism; gender Wood, Natalie, 79

Woolworths, 93, 99 work/​leisure and art/​work binary, 95, 219n17 World Game, 88–​9, 89 World War I (WWI), 6–​7, 23, 68, 113 World War II (WWII), as catalyst, 5–​8, 14, 18, 19, 23, 30 Yale University, 154–​6, 155 Yard, Sally, 197n13 Yeats, W. B., 105 Young, Jean and Jim, 176, 234n19 Zaragoza Cruz, Omayra, 202n74, 227n36 Zegher, Catherine de, 236n63 Zeman, Scott C., 198n18, 221n47 Zieff, Howard, 206n32 Zimmerman, Eric, 217n73 Zipp, Samuel, 129, 131, 225n8, 226n20 0 TO 9 (journal), 158, 160

258