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Archive for the ‘dystopia’ Category

‘No Original Response’: J.G. Ballard predicts Social Media, CCTV, Reality TV

By • Jul 3rd, 2013 •

Category: alternate worlds, Applied Ballardianism, Bruce Sterling, CCTV, celebrity culture, dystopia, features, Gilles Deleuze, hyperreality, Lead Story, media landscape, reality TV, science fiction, surveillance, television, William Gibson, YouTube

A post at Buzzfeed has been doing the rounds this week, on how J.G. Ballard “predicted social media in 1977″. According to Buzzfeed, “he made this uncanny observation in a Vogue essay”. Here’s Simon Sellars’ response, in text excerpted from his forthcoming book Applied Ballardianism, about life through a Ballardian lens. Read on for Ballard’s disturbing warning about the dangers that await when we have the capacity to broadcast “the inside of our heads”…



David Pelham: The Art of Inner Space

By • Feb 26th, 2012 •

Category: America, Brigid Marlin, deep time, dystopia, Eduardo Paolozzi, entropy, enviro-disaster, inner space, interviews, Lead Story, visual art

David Pelham produced perhaps the most Ballardian images ever to grace the covers of Ballard’s novels, prompted by this brief from the author himself: ‘‘monumental/tombstones/airless thermonuclear landscape/horizons/a zone devoid of time’. Here, Pelham discusses his apocalyptic art with James Pardey.



A Fascist State? Another Look at Kingdom Come and Consumerism

By • Jul 7th, 2010 •

Category: advertising, architecture, Bentall Centre, celebrity culture, consumerism, dystopia, fascism, features, Lead Story, media landscape, Salvador Dali, Shanghai, speed & violence, sport, surrealism

Ballard’s final novel, Kingdom Come, a dystopian account of consumerism as a type of ’soft fascism’, received lukewarm reviews and suggestions that the author was, perhaps, finally losing his touch. Others were eager to point to parallels between it and events around us: aggressive car commercials, racist behaviour by sports fanatics. In this article, Mike Holliday re-examines Kingdom Come and asks: can we really equate consumerism with fascism?



The Office Park

By • Jan 18th, 2010 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, CCTV, death of affect, dystopia, features, gated communities, Jean Baudrillard, Lead Story, leisure, non-place, photography, psychopathology, surveillance, technology, theme parks

Nicholas Cobb’s architectural model of a corporate campus, photographed with a malevolent, dystopian flair, and exploring parallel themes to Ballard’s Super-Cannes.



Edward Burtynsky: Oil – A Ballardian Interpretation

By • Jan 5th, 2010 •

Category: dystopia, Edward Burtynsky, entropy, enviro-disaster, features, Lead Story, photography

Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of quarries, factories, mining pits and railcuts are extraordinary for their depiction of mankind’s organisation of the land for resource-extraction and profit. Paul Roth makes the case that Burtynsky is one of our most Ballardian artists. Adopting a style in overt homage to Ballard, the essay honours his legacy as the foremost imaginative interpreter of the world Burtynsky documents.



A Near Future: Nic Clear’s Tribute to JG Ballard

By • Dec 28th, 2009 •

Category: academia, airports, alternate worlds, architecture, audio, body horror, dystopia, enviro-disaster, features, Lead Story, R.I.P. JGB, Shanghai, urban ruins, utopia, WWII

JG Ballard’s writing encompassed topics as diverse as ecological crisis, technological fetishism, urban ruination and suburban mob culture. In this extract from the September-October issue of Architectural Design, Nic Clear explores how Ballard’s understanding of architecture and architects made him one of the most important figures in the literary articulation of architectural issues and concerns.



'Because we're fucked': Skinner vs Gray

By • Dec 15th, 2008 •

Category: Ballardosphere, dystopia, John Gray, music, politics, utopia

John Gray meets Mike Skinner, discusses Ballard.



Rick McGrath's Letter from Barcelona: The Exquisite Corpse, An Autopsy of the New Millennium

By • Jul 29th, 2008 •

Category: alternate worlds, autobiography, Barcelona, David Cronenberg, deep time, dystopia, enviro-disaster, features, gated communities, inner space, Lead Story, medical procedure, Salvador Dali, Shanghai, surrealism, visual art

Transmission from Barcelona stop Having a wonderful time stop I believe in nothing stop Lost in surreal image machine and deep-blue-drenched corridors stretching to infinity stop Startling comma perverse visuals stop Rare books and writing stop Exhibition a raging success stop JGB would be proud stop Full letter to follow comma Love Rick end transmission



J.G. Ballard: In the Raw

By • Jul 22nd, 2008 •

Category: Barcelona, celebrity culture, dystopia, features, film, hyperreality, utopia, visual art, war

Promotional film and catalogue prologue for the exhibition J.G. Ballard: Autopsy of the New Millennium, at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Film features Marilyn Monroe’s ghost, Ballard’s mellifluous tones, snatched Aphex Twin, what looks like James Dean’s car and a severe case of the night terrors.



J.G. Ballard, Autopsy of the New Millennium: Press Release

By • Jul 22nd, 2008 •

Category: autobiography, Ballardosphere, Barcelona, dystopia, enviro-disaster, film, inner space, science fiction, sexual politics, Shanghai, Shepperton, speed & violence, suburbia, surrealism, utopia, visual art, WWII

Press release with fuller information and accompanying images for JG Ballard, Autopsy of the New Millennium, opening today at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB).



Bunker Tales

By • May 23rd, 2008 •

Category: alternate worlds, Ballardosphere, dystopia, fascism, Michael Moorcock, New Worlds, Philip K. Dick, Savoy Books, William Burroughs, WWII

A recent interview at the Burroughs site Reality Studio brings Ballard, Burroughs, Britton and Butterworth together … along with Arthur C. Clarke.



'Paradigm of nowhere': Shepperton, a photo essay (part 1)

By • Apr 26th, 2008 •

Category: alternate worlds, Australia, dystopia, features, flying, Lead Story, photography, sexual politics, Shepperton, suburbia, surrealism, utopia

In 2007 I toured Shepperton using Ballard’s Unlimited Dream Company as my guidebook. Here are the results of that neurological survey, born from the torsion of “every cell in my body waiting at the end of a miniature runway”.



One Nation Under CCTV

By • Apr 15th, 2008 •

Category: Ballardosphere, CCTV, dystopia, surveillance, technology, visual art

Banksy’s latest masterpiece.



Ballardian Home Movies: The Final Cut

By • Mar 2nd, 2008 •

Category: competitions, dystopia, entropy, features, film, gated communities, humour, psychopathology, speed & violence, suburbia, suicide, surveillance, technology, television, urban decay, YouTube

Here are the entries in the 1st Ballardian Festival of Home Movies. Congratulations to the winner, Ben Slater.



J.G. Ballard: The Oracle of Shepperton

By • Feb 26th, 2008 •

Category: alternate worlds, autobiography, dystopia, film, inner space, reviews, science fiction, Shepperton, suburbia

The final version of Thomas Cazals’ tribute, ‘J.G. Ballard: The Oracle of Shepperton’, has been released. It’s one of the stranger JGB ‘adaptations’ around, and is told with considerable flair and skill.



‘This most astonishing penumbra’: Will Self on J.G. Ballard

By • Feb 2nd, 2008 •

Category: archival, dystopia, interviews, science fiction, Shanghai, Shepperton, urban decay, Will Self, William Burroughs, WWII

Will Self was recently interviewed on BBC Radio 4 by Mariella Frostrup about his admiration for J.G. Ballard’s work. Here’s a transcript of that interview.



‘You are Hochhaus!’: Ballard in Berlin

By • Jan 9th, 2008 •

Category: architecture, Chris Marker, David Cronenberg, dystopia, entropy, fascism, film, gated communities, Germany, interviews, Steven Spielberg, urban decay, urban revolt, urban ruins, utopia, WWII

Dan O’Hara interviews the creators of Hochhaus, a German mixed-media radio play based on High-Rise. Transposing the novel to Berlin in 2013, it references Nazism, notably Speer’s social engineering through architecture, on its way to exploring Ballard’s relevance to speculative models of German life.



J.G. Ballard & Architectures of Control

By • Jan 3rd, 2008 •

Category: architecture, censorship, dystopia, fascism, features, Lead Story, psychology, speed & violence

According to Dan Lockton, one of the many ‘obsessions’ running through Ballard’s work is the effect of architecture on the individual. More than playful psychogeography, Ballard dissects architectural influence on his characters with technical precision.



How to Build a Utopia in Your Spare Time

By • Dec 23rd, 2007 •

Category: academia, alternate worlds, Australia, dystopia, enviro-disaster, film, Fredric Jameson, Iain Sinclair, Jean Baudrillard, Lead Story, literature, Pacific, reviews, science fiction, terrorism, utopia

A review of Demanding the Impossible, the Third Australian Conference on Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction, held at Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 5-7.



"A fierce and wayward beauty": Waste in the Fiction of J.G. Ballard, Part III

By • Dec 18th, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, dystopia, entropy, enviro-disaster, Jean Baudrillard, Lead Story, speed & violence, urban decay

According to William Viney, Crash presents a barrage of images that expresses collapse, dereliction, and waste; a seemingly endless carnival of sex and destruction; intoxicating, perverting, and desensitizing the reader, while Empire of the Sun can be seen as the terminus of Ballard’s treatment of waste, the epitome of all that has gone before. Although Ballard’s other works deal with the subject of death and the disposal of corpses, Empire of the Sun attempts to cope with this disposal on a mass-scale, or rather, during both war and peace, it explores the complex transition between the valued human being and lifeless, disposable cadaver.



"A fierce and wayward beauty": Waste in the Fiction of J.G. Ballard, Parts I & II

By • Dec 11th, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, dystopia, entropy, enviro-disaster, features, Lead Story, speed & violence, urban decay

William Viney explores how High-Rise, Concrete Island, and “The Ultimate City” contain familiar visual landscapes. However, each of these recognisable aspects of urban experience is rendered unfamiliar through the pervasive renegotiation of waste categories.



Demanding the Impossible

By • Dec 3rd, 2007 •

Category: academia, alternate worlds, Australia, Ballardosphere, dystopia, Fredric Jameson, micronations, Pacific, utopia

All Melbourne crew are welcome to come and heckle me this Wednesday (Dec 5, 1pm) at Monash University.



Drowned Geoff

By • Nov 17th, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, Ballardosphere, celebrity culture, cult-doom peddling, dystopia, enviro-disaster, utopia

Image by Pedro Armestre and Mario Gómez. The influence of BLDGBLOG’s Geoff Manaugh is spreading far and wide, so much so he is now featuring in a personality profile (disguised as a walking tour) in the Los Angeles Times in which the colour of his hair is discussed! Luckily, the writer, architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, […]



Grave New World: Introduction, Part 1

By • Nov 5th, 2007 •

Category: academia, David Cronenberg, death of affect, dystopia, features, Iain Sinclair, Jean Baudrillard, Michael Moorcock, New Worlds, psychiatry, Salvador Dali, science fiction, surrealism, technology, urban ruins, William Burroughs, WWII

Dominika Oramus reads Ballard’s work as a record of the gradual internal degeneration of Western civilization: though we are not literally living amidst the ruins, the golden age is far behind us and we are witnessing the twilight of the West.



First Instalment on the Future

By • Oct 31st, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, Ballardosphere, dystopia, film, gated communities, science fiction, utopia

I’ve just come across this excellent 2005 article from Chris Darke, published in Vertigo magazine, on Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Alphaville. It begins with a fascinating anecdote about gated communities in Brazil that are modeled after Godard’s modernist dystopia: Seven and a half miles from the heart of São Paulo there is a gated community which […]



Review: Grave New World

By • Aug 20th, 2007 •

Category: academia, death of affect, dystopia, entropy, Jean Baudrillard, reviews, urban decay

The basic tenet in Dominika Oramus’ new book on Ballard is that since the end of World War II western civilization has been merrily racing down the Highway to Hell in a white Pontiac; and all the evidence you need is in the fiction of J.G. Ballard.



Territories Reimagined

By • Aug 18th, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, Ballardosphere, consumerism, dystopia, entropy, psychogeography, urban decay, urban revolt, urban ruins, utopia

Please forward to anyone that may be interested … TRIP: Territories Reimagined: International Perspectives Manchester, 19-22 June 2008. Call for Papers and Projects * * Psychogeography * * * Neogeography * * * Deep topography * * * Urban interventions * * * Locative media * * * Collaborative Mapping * * * Between June […]



Prophets of Doom

By • Jul 29th, 2007 •

Category: Ballardosphere, dystopia, Philip K. Dick, science fiction, Will Self, William Burroughs

In the Independent, Deborah Orr parses Ballard in her analysis of John Gray’s Black Mass: In his latest book, Black Mass, the philosopher John Gray traces the history of Western millenarianism … For Gray, it is utopianism itself that is the problem. He suggests that ‘it is dystopian thinking we most need.’ We must, if […]



Ballardosphere Wrap-Up: Part 6

By • Jun 10th, 2007 •

Category: academia, architecture, Ballardosphere, David Cronenberg, dystopia, film, gated communities, leisure, utopia, visual art, William Burroughs

+ IDEAL, RADIANT In his excellent paper, ‘Ballard’s Banlieue Radieuse’, delivered at the Ballard conference, Owen Hatherley locates JGB’s Vermilion Sands stories as a vision at right angles to the dystopian tradition in which Ballard is normally housed — the Vermilion collection posits, Hatherley writes, ‘an actual, liveable future utopia that is eminently possible’. And […]



Archaeological Finds

By • May 22nd, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, Ballardosphere, dystopia, enviro-disaster, inner space, Shepperton, urban decay, urban ruins

Self-portrait: next to the M3 in Shepperton (photo: Simon Sellars). Apologies for the down time this site has experienced since the Ballard conference. I’m still in England where I’ve experienced many Ballardian and sub-Ballardian moments (and even some non-Ballardian moments, would you Adam and Eve it?) including exchanging views on ‘torture porn’ with Rick Poynor […]



The Rats that Ate Mill Park

By • Mar 27th, 2007 •

Category: Australia, boredom, dystopia, fascism, features, Jean Baudrillard, speed & violence, suburbia, urban revolt

by Simon Sellars Suburban Badlands: the Mill Park aftermath. Photo: Angela Wylie (from the Age newspaper). The system is self-regulating. It relies on our sense of civic responsibility. Without that, society would collapse. In fact, the collapse may even have begun.” ——————————————————————– J.G. Ballard. Millennium People (2003; p. 104). ——————————————————————– On the morning of 2 […]



Philip Brophy's Northern Void

By • Feb 19th, 2007 •

Category: Australia, dystopia, film, music, reviews, urban decay

Flyer for Northern Void. Last night I attended the second (and last, for now) screening of Philip Brophy’s 50-minute film Northern Void, billed as a “live cinema performance” accompanied by the real-time sonics of Ph2 (Brophy and Philip Samartzis). Northern Void is set along Plenty Rd, in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston — specifically […]



The Politics of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Geoff Manaugh

By • Nov 7th, 2006 •

Category: America, architecture, boredom, David Cronenberg, dystopia, Iain Sinclair, interviews, psychology, Steven Spielberg, utopia

by Simon Sellars Photo by Emiliano Granado. Used with permission. Geoff Manaugh is a writer and essayist whose work has appeared in Contemporary, Space & Culture, Blend, Lumpen, Inhabitat, WorldChanging, the Oyster Boy Review, the Urban Design Review, Subtopia, Vector, things magazine, and The Allen Ginsberg Audio Collection (a short essay in the CD liner […]



A User's Guide to the Millennium (1996)

By • Sep 5th, 2006 •

Category: advertising, architecture, bibliography, boredom, celebrity culture, consumerism, death of affect, deep time, dystopia, enviro-disaster, fashion, film, flying, humour, invisible literature, media landscape, medical procedure, non-fiction, photography, politics, psychogeography, psychology, Salvador Dali, science fiction, sexual politics, space relics, speed & violence, surrealism, television, urban decay, visual art, William Burroughs, WWII

OPENING LINE: “In his prime the Hollywood screenwriter was one of the tragic figures of our age, evoking the special anguish that arises from feeling sorry for oneself while making large amounts of money”. (from ‘The Sweet Smell of Excess’). From the 1996 Harper Collins edition: The first-ever collection of J.G. Ballard’s articles and reviews, […]



J.G. Ballard: The Complete Short Stories, vols 1 & 2 (2006)

By • Sep 1st, 2006 •

Category: advertising, architecture, bibliography, boredom, celebrity culture, consumerism, death of affect, deep time, dystopia, enviro-disaster, flying, humour, invisible literature, media landscape, medical procedure, New Worlds, photography, politics, psychogeography, psychology, science fiction, sexual politics, Shepperton, short stories, space relics, speed & violence, suicide, surrealism, television, terrorism, urban decay, urban revolt, visual art, WWII

OPENING LINE: “I first met Jane Ciracylides during the Recess, that world slump of boredom, lethargy and high summer which carried us all so blissfully through ten unforgettable years, and I suppose that may have had a lot to do with what went on between us.” (from ‘Prima Belladonna’). From the 2001 Flamingo edition (originally […]



Kingdom Come (2006)

By • Sep 1st, 2006 •

Category: advertising, bibliography, consumerism, deep time, dystopia, sport, terrorism, urban revolt

OPENING LINE: “The suburbs dream of violence.” From the 2006 Fourth Estate edition: Richard Pearson, unemployed advertising executive and life-long rebel, is driving out to Brooklands, a motorway town on the A25. A few weeks earlier his father was fatally wounded at the Metro-Centre, a vast shopping mall in the middle of this apparently peaceful […]



"A thousand cerise and cyclamen lights…"

By • Jul 9th, 2006 •

Category: Ballardosphere, dystopia, utopia

The Wikipedia entry for Ballard features a discussion about whether Ballard’s work is dystopian or not. In response, Umberto says “Mah, I don’t care about discussion: Ballard is not a dystopian author, period. Maybe in some short story I have read and forgotten or never read… but in all his SF stuff he ain’t like […]



"Thirsty Man at the Spigot": An Interview with Jonathan Weiss

By • May 2nd, 2006 •

Category: academia, America, Australia, Chris Marker, Chris Petit, consumerism, David Cronenberg, dystopia, film, humour, Iain Sinclair, interviews, sexual politics, Steven Spielberg

by Simon Sellars Victor Slezak as ‘T’ in The Atrocity Exhibition Ballardian presents an exclusive interview with Jonathan Weiss, director of The Atrocity Exhibition, the film based on the J.G. Ballard collection of ‘condensed novels’. ———————————————————————————————————————- NOTE: This is a revised and expanded version of the original interview. The new additions are a reworked introduction, […]



A Ballard-inspired Artist

By • Feb 19th, 2006 •

Category: Australia, Ballardosphere, dystopia, photography

‘Senses Working Overtime’ from the Age newspaper, Melbourne, Australia February 19, 2006 by Simon Castles “Narinda Reeders wants to photograph the secret fantasies of Melbourne’s office workers for her exhibition. Simon Castles offers one of his own . . . I’m sitting with a couple of mates, telling them how I just interviewed Narinda Reeders, […]



Ballardian: The Dictionary Definition

By • Nov 8th, 2005 •

Category: Ballardosphere, dystopia

The Collins English Dictionary now carries a definition for ‘Ballardian’: (adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (born 1930), the British novelist, or his works (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.



J.G. Ballard Live in London

By • Oct 7th, 2005 •

Category: archival, censorship, consumerism, David Cronenberg, dystopia, film, gated communities, interviews, psychology, psychopathology, science fiction, sexual politics, Shanghai, television

Photo by Simon Sellars This transcript was first published in Sub Dee Magazine (no. 5 Summer 1997), a print project I was involved in long before Ballardian. At the time, J.G. Ballard’s career was in the ascendancy after what was perceived to be an average period in his writing. Cocaine Nights had just been released […]



JG Ballard & Punishment Park

By • Jul 31st, 2005 •

Category: Ballardosphere, dystopia, film, politics, short stories

From the Londonist, July 18, 2005: “We only just got around to seeing Peter Watkins’ Punishment Park – we figured we’ve waited for 35 years… what’s another week or so matter. Now we’re kicking ourselves for not getting along to the ICA sooner so we could recommend this to you guys earlier. We caught the […]