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Which clippings match 'J G Ballard' keyword pg.1 of 1
09 NOVEMBER 2013

Design Fiction, Science Fiction and Literary Criticism

"Design Fiction is a recent spin–off of Science Fiction, directly inspired by many of the imagined worlds of writers like Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, J.G. Ballard and others. It sets out to do many of the same things as Sci–Fi does, but in a more concrete way, by introducing real physical objects or real sets of rules and scenarios which require the participation (direct or indirect, voluntary or involuntary) of users, beyond just their emotional and intellectual engagement. In this way Design Fiction can 'test' objects or tools or storylines that Science Fiction, until recently, has not been able to. A literary work, has (in general) been a fixed text until very recently, and so even though readers have enjoyed many different readings and interpretations, the author has not been able to adapt or react to their responses. Design Fiction allows the inventor or storytellers to adapt their scenario as it evolves and as the users or participants give their reactions."

(Charles Beckett, How to Think About The Future)



alternative possible futures • Bruce Sterling • conscious metaphor • design fictiondigital technologyfictional setting • future speculation • future technologiesfuturologyInanimate AliceJ G Ballard • Jake Dugarden • Julian Bleeckerliterary criticismMichio Kaku • nascent practice • Near Future Laboratory • PerplexCity (project) • Philip K. Dickphilosophical questionsPhysics of the Impossible (2008)prototypingSascha Pohfleppsci-fi • sci-fi science • science fictionspeculative designspeculative physicsspeculative prototypesStar TrekStar Warstest concepts • test out • test your ideas • what-if scenarios • William Gibson • World Without Oil (project)


Liam Birtles
20 JULY 2013

The key image of the present day is the man in the motor car

"In all of these experiments, aborted works, happenings, events, the motif of the car crash is crucial. Ballard sought to understand the role that automobile styling, and mass consumerism, plays in our lives. His sights were set on what he saw as the built–in death drive that technology embodies, the effacing of identity, the shutting off of our neurological systems. Our willingness to submit to the amniotic bliss of the technological womb. Of course, today we know where all this would eventually beach: his 1973 masterpiece, Crash. But in 1971 Ballard was still pushing the farthest limits of his obsession, refining riffs and routines, expanding the parameters of the car crash as far as popular culture would allow. Crucially this was far beyond the stuffy confines of 'literature', which Ballard has never had much time for, and into visual art and film: the realm of the popular imaginary."

(Simon Sellars, 10 August 2007, Ballardian)

Fig.1 dir. Harley Cokeliss, "Towards Crash!", 1971. 16 mm Eastmancolor transferred to video, sound, 17:34 min. Courtesy the artist. © BBC TV 1971.



16mm197120th centuryabsurd condition of humanityBBC TVBBC2bodily formbodybody experiencecarcar crash • car wash • collisionconsumerismcrashcrash test • crash test dummy • death • Eastmancolor • experimental filmGabrielle Drake • Harley Cokeliss • Harley Cokliss • human interpretation • J G Ballard • James Mossman • Kodak Eastmanmachine aestheticmeaninglessness of life • motorcar • motoristprotection • romancing technology • romanticismsex and machines • styling • suffering and inevitable deathtechnological shaping of sociality • technological system • technoromanticism • The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) • Towards Crash (1971) • traumavisual codes


Simon Perkins
22 DECEMBER 2009

Alphaville exists. Everywhere!

"Science–fiction films tell us as much about the time in which they were made as the future they project and between the two moments–the one specific, the other nominal (1984, 2001, etc)–a sense develops of their qualities of prescience and allegorical vision. The enterprise of proposing a world–to–be is always a hostage to the future's fortune. The law of diminishing returns that applies as regards special effects bears this out. How soon before Matrix–era 'bullet time' looks as dated as Douglas Trumbull's 'star gate' pyrotechnics in 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)? Which may explain why Alphaville hasn't aged as badly as other examples of the genre; it finds its 'special effect' in the specifically cinematic resource of light.

But this light, let's remind ourselves, is the light of the past brought to bear on the presence of the future now. Would it be going too far to suggest that, in adding the dimensions of past and future to the present of 1965, Godard was able to set the controls of his particular time machine to withstand the very test of time? There's no shortage of films that seek to travel in time following Alphaville, from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and Mauvais sang (Leos Carax, 1986) to Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997) and Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998). There is also the developing genre of what critic Jonathan Romney has named 'steel and glass cinema' which he describes 'as cinema set in the recognisably contemporary urban world but framed and shot in such a way that it becomes detached, not unreal so much as irreal, bordering on science fiction', examples of which include Elle est des nôtres (She's a Jolly Good Fellow, Seigrid Alnoy, 2002), Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, 2002), Cypher (Vincenzo Natali, 2002) and Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom, 2003). Romney claims Alphaville to be 'the mother' of such cinema and with good reason. In the forty or so years separating Alphaville from Demonlover it has become evident that the no–place of Godard's dystopia, with its labyrinth of corridors and lobbies, was already one big non–place in waiting. The presence of the future that Godard was keen to capture back in 1965 has since taken shape as a global nonplace crossing continents and time–zones. 'It may be that we have already dreamed our dream of the future', J.G. Ballard has mused, 'and have woken with a start into a world of motorways, shopping malls and airport concourses which lie around us like a first instalment of a future that has forgotten to materialize.' Or, to put it another way, Alphaville exists. Everywhere."

(Chris Darke, Vertigo Magazine)

This is an edited extract from Chris Darke's monograph on J–L Godard's Alphaville to be published by I.B.Tauris in 2005. Chris Darke is a writer, critic and lecturer on the moving image. His book of selected writings, Light Readings, is published by Wallflower Press. He is also represented, with his film study Chris on Chris, on the DVD of La Jetée and Sans Soleil. See also pages 26 and 38.



19651982198619971998 • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) • 200220032005airportAlphavillebetweenBrazilbullet timecritiqueculture • Dark City (1998) • Demonlover • dystopiaenvironmentfutureGattacainterzone • irreal • J G BallardJean-Luc Godard • labyrinth • lightmall • Mauvais Sang • non-placeRidley ScottSao Paolosci-fiscience-fictionsocial interactionsocietyspaceStanley Kubrick • Stargate • steel and glass cinema • The Matrix (1999)traditionurban


Simon Perkins
01 NOVEMBER 2003

Out Of Place: Concrete Island

"One day in April, 1973, 35–year–old architect Robert Maitland races home from a conference and a few nights with his mistress, but his Jaguar crashes through a highway barrier and into a large island between freeways. The vehicle is not drivable, and Maitland is unable to escape the island during the several days no one is apt to miss him. He tries to flag down traffic, scrambles for food and shelter, even tries to burn his Jaguar to create a signal flare. [...]the plot turns into a cross between Robinson Crusoe and Sartre's No Exit."
(David Loftus)



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