15 May 2010
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.
Chaired by Jeremy Melvin, contributors include:
John Gray, philosopher and author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (2003) as well as many other books; Nic Clear, architect, teacher at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and editor of Architectures of the Near Future; David Cunningham, deputy director of the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster and founder member of the editorial collective of Radical Philosophy; Matthew Taunton, writer and historian of modern English and French literature; Chris Hall, journalist, who also interviewed Ballard on a number of occasions; Jo Murray, PhD candidate at Birkbeck and lecturer at Kingston University; Tim Abrahams, journalist and associate editor of Blueprint; Nigel Coates, architect, designer and teacher. Dan Holdsworth, artist working with photography.