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Ballardian Architecture: Inner and Outer SpaceAuthor: Ballardian • Aug 17th, 2010 •
Modelling and photography by Nicholas Cobb.
This was the first office building to be constructed at the business park, but after a bombastic overture the architecture that followed was late modernist in the most minimal and self-effacing way, a machine above all for thinking in.
J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes.
Recently, London’s Royal Academy of Arts hosted the symposium Ballardian Architecture: Inner and Outer Space:
Acclaimed writer JG Ballard derived inspiration from aspects of the built environment that architectural convention and critics tend to overlook. His novels offer many insights into the flaws and consequences of the shopping centres, car parks, hotels, office towers and housing projects that make up so much of contemporary architectural endeavour. This forum traces several themes in Ballard’s literary analysis of the contemporary built environment, including the concept of spectacle and role of the media in contemporary society, and how “invisible literatures” such as scientific journals, technical manuals, pornography, advertising copy can be seen as a literary counterpart to pop art and the “brutalist” aesthetic of modernity.
Three longer papers are followed by a series of brief but powerful commentaries which each open up particular insights into Ballard’s work, and together explore how Ballard’s perceptions may challenge and inform contemporary architecture.
Film has now been posted online of each discussion, and we have reproduced the presentations below. You can also download mp3s of the talks.
The event was chaired by Jeremy Melvin. Speakers included John Gray, Nic Clear, David Cunningham, Nigel Coates, Matthew Taunton, Chris Hall, Joanne Murray, Dan Holdsworth, Tim Abrahams and Claire Walsh. Thank you to Static TV for supplying the footage.
..::: Previously on ballardian.com:
+ Re-Placing the Novel: Sinclair, Ballard and the Spaces of Literature, by David Cunningham
+ A Near Future: Nic Clear’s Tribute to JG Ballard
+ Stereoscopic Urbanism: JG Ballard and the Built Environment
+ ‘Architectures of the Near Future’: An Interview with Nic Clear
+ ‘Because we’re fucked’: Skinner vs Gray
Ballardian Architecture 1: John Gray
John Gray, author and philosopher, identifies correspondences between Ballard’s work and Guy Debord’s notion of the spectacle, discussing certain ramifications for contemporary economic and social phenomena.
Ballardian Architecture 2: Nic Clear
Nic Clear, architect and lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, delivers a paper entitled ‘J.G. Ballard is an Enemy of the Architectural Profession’.
Ballardian Architecture 3: David Cunningham
David Cunningham, University of Westminster, examines architectural aspects of Ballard’s prose, exploring corresponding tendencies in the writings of Iain Sinclair and W.G. Sebald.
Ballardian Architecture 4: Session 1 Discussion
Session 1 concludes with a discussion featuring speakers John Gray, David Cunningham and Nic Clear. The discussion is chaired by Jeremy Melvin, and features contributions from members of the audience.
Ballardian Architecture 5: Nigel Coates
Nigel Coates, architect and lecturer, discusses the influence of Ballard’s writings upon a number of his architectural projects, as well as reviewing work by some of his students at the Royal College of Art.
Ballardian Architecture 6: Matthew Taunton
Matthew Taunton, author and academic, investigates Ballard’s 1960 short story ‘Chronopolis’, highlighting Ballard’s engagement with modernist urbanism and his response to Taylorism and Fordism.
Ballardian Architecture 7: Chris Hall
Chris Hall, journalist and writer, analyses architectural aspects of Ballard’s short story ‘The Terminal Beach’.
Ballardian Architecture 8: Joanne Murray
Joanne Murray, lecturer and Birkbeck PhD candidate, discusses formal characteristics of Ballard’s art and writing in relation to New Brutalist architecture.
Ballardian Architecture 9: Dan Holdsworth
Dan Holdsworth, artist, discusses his photographs, highlighting architectural motifs and visual tendencies that reflect aspects in Ballard’s prose.
Ballardian Architecture 10: Tim Abrahams
Tim Abrahams, journalist and Associate Editor of ‘Blueprint’ magazine, discusses Ballard’s Shanghai-set, semi-autobiographical novel ‘Empire of the Sun’ in relation to the Shanghai Expo 2010.
Ballardian Architecture 11: Session 2 Discussion
Session 2 concludes with a discussion featuring speakers Dan Holdsworth, Nigel Coates, Tim Abrahams, Chris Hall, Joanne Murray and Matthew Taunton. The discussion is chaired by Gavin Parkinson, and features contributions from members of the audience.
Ballardian Architecture 12: Claire Walsh
Claire Walsh, editor, researcher and J.G. Ballard’s partner, discusses Ballard’s life and interests in a presentation that closes the proceedings of the forum.
Newer: Affirmative architectural dystopias »