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J.G. Ballard: The Visual Tribute

Author: • Dec 28th, 2007 •

Category: Australia, David Cronenberg, entropy, enviro-disaster, features, Lead Story, short stories, visual art

As promised, to mark HarperCollins’ Ballard design comp, here’s a selection of visual art I’ve come across, all directly inspired by or referencing themes in Ballard’s work. Note the prominence of The Drowned World and The Crystal World, and the short story ‘The Drowned Giant’ — and Crash, naturlich. Oh, and Atrocity, too. Let me know what I’ve missed — purely what’s available online — and I’ll add them to this list.

This gallery is in two parts: 1) Work that hasn’t been featured on this site (below); 2) and work previously featured.


‘Crystal Forest’
by Maia Valenzeula

Ballardian: The Crystal World

Based on the book “The Crystal World” by JG Ballard.


‘Crash’
by Marie Meier

Ballardian: Crash

A little tribute to J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg.


‘The Drowned Giant’
by Shafeen Alam

Ballardian: The Drowned Giant

This is a story moment I chose to illustrate in which the main character, a young librarian, sees the Giant for the first time, days after it had washed ashore and the excitement over it had died down. I submitted my work on ACME and have gotten some really helpful comments from the pros. So here is my revision as a result.


Illustrations by James Nicholls

Ballardian: The Terminal Beach

ABOVE: ‘The Terminal Beach’ by J.G. Ballard.

Ballardian: The Terminal Beach

LEFT: ‘The Drowned Giant’ by J.G. Ballard. RIGHT: ‘Billennium’ by J.G. Ballard.


‘In Memory, VI’ by Carolyn Ellingson

Ballardian: Crash

On February 3, 1997 Bill Bateman was struck from behind by a car as he was walking on Skyline Drive in Oakland… The impact threw him up over the hood of the car — the back of his head hit the car’s windshield, causing irreversible brain injuries. … Bill never regained consciousness — he remained in a coma for 17 days. When it was agreed there was no hope of recovery, life support was withdrawn. He died February 20 at the age of 49. This series of prints was created in his memory. Captions under first eight prints are from the book Crash by J. G. Ballard, 1973. J. G. Ballard has granted the artist permission to use these captions here.


Image from ‘Post Premonitionism: JG Ballard’s The Drowned World’
by Tracey Clement

Ballardian: The Drowned World

In 1962, JG Ballard’s The Drowned World was a prescient warning; wilfully ignored. Forty five years later, the causes may be different, but we seem to be spiralling into an ecological melt-down straight out of Ballard’s vision. What do you do when you have already seen the future? Apparently nothing. In Post Premonitionism, Clement’s fragile steel structures seem to mimic the skeletal remains of an abandoned city. Twisted, rusty and ephemeral, they eventually will disintegrate completely, vulnerable and helpless against nature’s patient omnipotence. Clement has transposed Ballard’s premonition of The Drowned World on to the reality of Australia; salt takes the place of water in a continent characterised by drought.


Image from ‘Crystal World (after J.G. Ballard)’
by Ann Lislegaard.

Ballardian: The Crystal World

Crystal World (after J.G. Ballard) is an evocative and silent 3-D animation. A journey to an abandoned hotel situated in a slowly crystallising dense wilderness. There are traces of a catastrophe. Water is forcing its way through the architecture. Chairs, beds and cupboards are displaced, drifting through the rooms. The crystalline world that emerges is one of infinite reflections. It is sci-fi scenario of change and destabilisation. In Crystal World (after J. G. Ballard) Lislegaard investigates the possibility of creating an alternative reality. A new structure that challenges our usual preconceptions of time and place. Lislegaard uses the crystal as a metaphor to describe how the experience of the present and the physical surroundings are filtered through previous accumulation and breakdown of memories and experiences. A mental state in decay and change at one and the same time – a super-crystalline structure.

Crystal World (after J.G. Ballard) invokes an entropic future that is both a physical state and a state of mind. The artist’s poetic, yet disturbing work slowly transforms the xrummet into a universe where spectators glide into a timeless stasis of a parallel world.


Image from ‘You Me and the Continuum’
by Peter Huestis

Ballardian: The Atrocity Exhibition

The following images are an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s short story “You and Me and The Continuum.” The images contain the complete text of the short story, originally published as part of Ballard’s 1969 experimental novel The Atrocity Exhibition. The original story consists of an intro and 26 “chunks” of text, each with a header, a word or phrase in alphabetical order. Ballard often referred to such stories as condensed novels.


‘The Atrocity Exhibition’
by John Coulthart

Ballardian: The Atrocity Exhibition

One of the earliest works of mine I can stand to see displayed in public is my drawing from 1984 intended to accompany the story (as opposed to the book) of The Atrocity Exhibition. Was going to be part of a series of drawings illustrating each chapter of The Atrocity Exhibition collection with each picture joining to the next to form a single long work. I completed the second one, The University of Death, then ran out of steam, and the whole idea was completely negated by the superior RE/Search edition of TAE. The University of Death drawing isn’t on the site since the rendering of James Dean was pretty shameful.


‘Crash’
by Ganzeer: Experimental Arts Unit

Ballardian: Crash

So when Times Online, together with Harper Collins, announced a competition to design a new limited edition of J.G.Ballard’s best-selling 1973 novel CRASH, I jumped at the chance and put together a little somethin’ somethin’ before reading the guidelines which clearly state that the competition is only open to residents of the UK. Sob. Silly me.


‘Crash’
by tendegreesbelowzero

Ballardian: Crash

Currently there’s an online contest to redesign the cover of J.G. Ballard’s novel, Crash… I probably won’t enter the contest since the prize is “your cover gets published” which is basically violating everything that I feel graphic design should stand for (ie, don’t work for free), but I did want to tackle the design challenge. I wondered why so many people had failed at creating a compelling image for such a wonderfully interesting book. So yeah, here’s mine. If you haven’t read the book, it’s just a car crash, which is fine, since the book is about car crashes. But it’s also about fetishizing the moment of impact, the injury, the destruction. It’s beautifully written, erotic and brutal at the same time. It’s gross, in many ways, as well. I hoped to bring across the feeling of sex and destruction with my design. It’s still a rough work in progress, and I’m probably going to do a couple more after a reread of the book again.


..:: FURTHER
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J.G. Ballard: The Visual Tribute, Part 2

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7 Responses »

  1. One of the earliest works of mine I can stand to see displayed in public is my drawing from 1984 intended to accompany the story (as opposed to the book) of The Atrocity Exhibition.

    http://www.johncoulthart.com/pantechnicon/ballard.html

    Was going to be part of a series of drawings illustrating each chapter of The Atrocity Exhibition collection with each picture joining to the next to form a single long work. I completed the second one, The University of Death, then ran out of steam, and the whole idea was completely negated by the superior RE/Search edition of TAE. The University of Death drawing isn’t on the site since the rendering of James Dean was pretty shameful.

  2. I like it, John. Not too literal but still suggestive. I’ll pop it in the gallery.

    Have you seen Mike Foreman’s drawings for the original edition of Atrocity — the one that was pulped? Rick McGrath has them here:
    http://www.rickmcgrath.com/jgballard/jgbatrocity.html

  3. Thanks Simon. Your link gives a 404 btw, it’s catching the period after the “html”. I had seen those Foreman pics, yes. Interesting that we both opted for a similar approach (up to a point), doing a kind of drawn collage, perhaps inevitable with TAE seeing as the texts are collages themselves. My intent was more literal than Foreman’s in that I wanted to include specific references from each chapter for each illustration, hence the bird figure from Europe After the Rain.

  4. I missed this little chapter of the site til now. I love The Atrocity Exibition drawing. Love the birdman/woman whose feet are turning into tree stump-like matter. Very Ernst.

  5. Ian, yes, that’s John Coulthart, a fine artist, and there’s more of his work here: http://www.johncoulthart.com.

  6. […] Image from Crystal World (after JG Ballard). Ann Lislegaard. 2005. 2-channel, 3-D animation with sound, two leaning screens.  Image from Ballardian. […]

  7. […] reproducida se basa en la edición francesa, Calmenn-Lévy, 1974. La fuente de la imagen es esta. Una reflexión interesante sobre Crash […]

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