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The music from the balconies nearby was overlaid by the noise of sporadic acts of violence

The above quote is from the novel High Rise, by JG Ballard. 20 years (maybe more) I was introduced to the writings of JG Ballard, to say it changed the way I see certain things is an understatement. Ballard is best known for his groundbreaking work of fiction called Crash. Followed by his memoir of his childhood called Empire of the Sun. However for me, High Rise is the work that speaks to the new, or should I say future, urban experience.

I was jogged back into thinking hard about JGB last week when the New York Times Magazine ran a fashion spread (sample image above) in which the models were adorned in great clothes but also great medical equipment. This spread immediately triggered me to think about Crash. A few years ago Crash was made into a movie with a reasonable degree of success, however it is the themes of Crash that carry the greatest weight; The sexualization of the car crash, the fetishization of damage, and finally the objectification of the scar on the human body as sexual device. This is clearly not dinner table conversation to be sure.

Funny enough the paper this weekend had a short article (New York Times – Arts and Leisure) about Richard Prince’s recent work about/using the automobile. Clearly JGB and Prince are using the automobile as a device that speaks of an everyday experience although, clearly Ballard’s view is far from everyday – however I can see parts of society moving in a curious direction.

Why am I writing about Ballard in my “artblog”? I think it is because usually I look at art and think about the experience, then when I discuss the art, most often I discuss its “Meta”, rarely it’s experience. (meta is a prefix used in order to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter) I find that the writings of JG Ballard, have adjusted the focus of the lens that I view, and ultimately discuss art with.

Where to start?
The three most groundbreaking books are: Crash, High Rise and, Concrete Island. You might find one of them in a better bookstores, or you might try this internet shopping all the kids are talking about.

There are some videos on YouTube as well.


  1. hey, did you know that ballard and prince did a fictional interview together?

  2. Martin:
    I did. I’ll have to admit I poured over the prince website before he took it down as well as as your posts about second house.

    Funny enough I’ve been thinking about contacting you because I’ll be in albany NY this month and r-ville is about 20 miles away.

    How are you – you seem to be in a bit of flux?

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