Flyer by Chuck Newsey
JGB Day 2017: J. G. Ballard and Making
J. G. Ballard’s fictional worlds are alive with making, remaking, repurposing and reinvigorating: ‘survival kits’ composed of unlike objects; the rekindling of creativity amongst the beach-fatigued denizens of Vermilion Sands; the surrealist constructs of ‘The Unlimited City’; the wound mappings and death scenarios of Crash; the consumerist totems and shrines of The Unlimited Dream Company and more. As Rachele Dini writes:
Ballard’s [Urban Disaster] Trilogy posits waste as simultaneously estranging and reassur ing—that which resists coherent understanding but lays bare the artifice of post-war consumerism, revealing the truth beneath the multifarious mirages constructed by advertising and television. The waste objects in these novels prove very useful indeed, providing a means to approach the surreal quality of lived experience in advanced capitalist societies.1
Amongst those that seek to mark difference between human beings and other animals, our ability to use tools and to reshape and reflect the world is often paramount. Why then does making, as much as denaturing and unsettling, seem so essential to Ballard’s project in works that radically destabilize binaries such as human/non-human, organic/inorganic, natural/cultural? Are the combinations of unlike objects and technologies in Ballard mere pataphysical play? Are they manifestations of derangement and/or faulty aesthetic judgement? Might the manipulation of objects and media point towards a means of resistance to seemingly reified social and political orders, or are such détournements inevitably recuperated?
With such questions in mind, undergraduate students from Birmingham City University’s Schools of English, Fashion and Jewellery have been collaborating on creative responses to Ballard’s Vermilion Sands short story collection. This one-day, multidisciplinary symposium will showcase the students’ project alongside academic papers and other creative responses to Ballard. We invite proposals for objects, artefacts, performances, papers and discussion panels that respond to any aspect of making in Ballard’s work. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
• The repurposing of objects
• Old or defunct technology
•Junk and waste
• Posthuman creativity
• Ballard and the plastic arts
• Film/painting/sculpture/jewellery/music,etc that responds to Ballard’s work
Please send proposals / abstracts of up to 300 words along with a short biography to
Thomas Knowles firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of 31st May 2017.
Rachele Dini, Consumerism, Waste, and Re-use in Twentieth-Century Fiction: Legacies of the Avant-Garde (London: Palgrave, 2016), p. 127. See also William Viney, ‘“A fierce and wayward beauty”: Waste in the Fiction of J.G. Ballard’ (2007), <http://www.ballardian.com/a-fierce-and-wayward-beauty-parts-1-2> [accessed 02 May 2017].