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Future Ruins

Author: • Jun 16th, 2007 •

Category: alternate worlds, architecture, Ballardosphere, psychogeography, urban decay, visual art

Ballardian: Michelle Lord
Future Ruins: Michelle Lord © 2007.

Michelle Lord has emailed me with some more information and stills from her show ‘Future Ruins’, now exhibiting at The Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret St., Birmingham B3 3BS UK. It’s on from June 15-23 and is part of Architecture Week 2007; see www.architectureweek.org.uk for further details.

I’m fascinated by Michelle’s images, with their gently jarring, transmogrified quality — surreal ruptures, like little “vents of hell” (a favourite Ballard phrase), smoothly integrated into the furniture of late capitalism.

Now, if only I didn’t live 17,000km from Birmingham…

by Michelle Lord

“Inspired by author J.G. Ballard’s literary visions of modernist architectural design and his prophetic views on the technological demise of the urban environment, Future Ruins is a photographic critique of the urban planning of the 1970s and Ballard’s novels of the same period.

Ballard often described the beckoning future of the modern metropolis in terms of the utopian ideology of Brutalist concrete architecture. Brutalism was an architectural movement originally associated with social idealism that is now criticised for disregarding the communal, historic and surrounding built environment. Set against a backdrop of Birmingham’s few remaining concrete structures such as Spaghetti Junction, Central Library and New Street Station signal box, Future Ruins aims to highlight the temporality of our landscape, particularly at a time when Birmingham has embarked on a process of regeneration in order to redefine itself.

Ballardian: Michelle Lord
Future Ruins: Michelle Lord © 2007.

Exploring the impact of the modern world upon the urban built environment and its inhabitants, Ballard’s stories evoke images of cityscapes increasingly transformed by science, technology and design. Using handmade models and rear-screen projection, scenes based upon Ballard’s apocalyptic narratives such as ‘Ultimate City’ or Concrete Island are relocated within Birmingham. Familiar architectural locations around the city take on the appearance of evacuated spaces occupied by strange, carefully arranged structures, built from the technological detritus of abandoned television sets, cars, computers and domestic appliances.

Birmingham offers an interesting working example of urban regeneration as it strives to build a new city image. Positioned between architectural decline and growth, the landscape of the city is a collage of old and new, revealing stark contrasts of industrial and post-war brutalism with groundbreaking structures like the Selfridges building.

By resituating some of Ballard’s fictions, this project hopes to reflect and provoke debate about both the architectural past and future of Birmingham, at a time when the city has embarked on a process of regeneration in order to redefine itself. With the recent destruction of the old Bull Ring, the proposed demolition of Central Library and potential redevelopment of New Street Station, the project is perhaps a timely reflection of its now lost or soon to disappear architectural history, while questioning whether the concrete legacy that remains is still a necessary part of the architectural fabric of the city.”

Michelle Lord

Ballardian: Michelle Lord
Future Ruins: Michelle Lord © 2007.

All images are for sale. Contact Michelle for details.

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  4. […] From "Future Ruins" by Michelle Lord]. Over on Ballardian we read about a new project by artist Michelle Lord, called “Future […]

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