Ballard Dies

There have probably been relatively few famous inhabitants of Shepperton, a small suburban corner of Middlesex within spitting distance of where I live, but unquestionably J G Ballard who died on Sunday, age 78, was one of them.

Certainly one of Britains major post-war writers, James Graham Ballard saw the future embodied in the present culture, and wrote his own apocalyptic ‘Ballardian’ version of it, based strongly around the outer suburbs where he – and I – live. He clearly foresaw the surveillance society and many of the problems of late capitalism.

Best known for his ‘Empire of the Sun‘, a superbly written work based around his experiences as a child in the Japanese internment camps in China and made into a film, it was his other works which are more important, perhaps culminating in his last novel, Kingdom Come (2006), firmly set in the suburban zone around the M25. In many ways close to home.

It was a great disappointment to me that the film ‘Crash‘ was  migrated by its Canadian director to Toronto.  The book was very firmly set in the Heathrow area, and, although I’m not sure it would have been a better film in West London/Middlesex, it would certainly have added to its relevance for me.

I wrote briefly about him and his work, and how it had inspired some of my own photography in ‘Under The Car‘, based on a section of a lecture I gave in 2007 in Brasilia.

© Peter Marshall
A Ballardian landscape © Peter Marshall

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