things magazine / about / what's new? / archive / photos / projects / order / rss / search
photography from the pre-flickr era
projects, scans and collections
Where is things 19/20?
What is things magazine?
The Pelican Project
thingsmagazine.tumblr.com
external links
0lll
2 or 3 things I know
aalog
actar
adam curtis
agence eureka
aggregat 4/5/6
alice the architect
all about nothing (x)
all things considered (x)
alphaville
alttext
ambit magazine
anarchitecture
and another thing
anti-mega
apothecary's drawer
arcspace
arch daily
archinect
archidose
archiveteam
architects' journal
architect's newspaper blog
architectural review
architectural ruminations
architecture.mnp
archnewsnow
arkitektur
art fag city
art is everywhere
art newspaper
arts journal
artnotes
ashleyb
atelier a+d
ateliermob
atlas (t)
atlas obscura
badaude
bad british architecture
bifurcated rivets
the big picture
blanketfort
bldg blog
blissblog
b'blog of 'israeli
boing boing
b******* to architecture
books from finland
booooooom
bottom drawer (x)
bouphonia
bowblog
bradley's almanac
buchanansmith
butterpaper
cabinet magazine
cabinet of wonders
candyland (x)
cartoonist (the)
cartype
caterina
city of sound
city comforts
collision detection
conscientious
continuity in architecture
coromandal
core77
coroflot
cosmopolitan scum
coudal
creative review blog
curious expeditions
daily jive
dancing bears (x)
daniel eatock
dark roasted blend
david thompson
death by architecture
delicious
delicious ghost
deputy dog (x)
derelict london
designboom
design bivouac
design observer
dezain
dezeen
diamond geezer
digitally distributed environments
diskant
efimera
eliot shepard
ephemera
excitement machine
eye of the goof
fantastic journal
fed by birds
feuilleton
ftrain
fireland
first drafts
five foot way
Ffffound!
further
future feeder
gadgets.fosfor.se
gapers block
giornale nuovo
greg
grow-a-brain
haddock
halvorsen
hat projects
hchamp
hello beautiful!
hot wheels
htc experiments
hyperkit
hyperreal and supercool
i like
iconeye.com
incoming signals
infinite thought
inhabitat
the interior prospect
irregular orbit
iso50
jean snow
joe moran's blog
josh rubin
judit bellostes
kanye west
kazys
keep left london
kosmograd
kottke
landliving
languagehat
largehearted boy
last plane to jakarta
lewism
life without buildings
lightningfield (x)
limited language (x)
literary saloon
loca london
london architecture diary
london review of books
low tech magazine
made by machines for people
made in china '69
magCulture
making light
mananarama
map room
material world
mcsweeneys
men's vogue daily
metafilter
metafilter projects
microkhan
militant esthetix
millennium people
mimoa
miss representation
mocoloco
moosifer jones' grouch
monocle
monoscope
mountain 7
mrs deane
music thing (x)
myrtle street
netdiver
no, 2 self
nothing to see here
noisy decent graphics
noticias arquitectura
NTK
nyclondon
obscure store
obsessive consumption
one plus one equals three
oobject
open brackets (x)
ouno design
overmorgen (x)
panopticist
parenthetically's
partIV (x)
pcl linkdump
the peel tapes
perpenduum
personism
platforma arquitectura
plasticbag (x)
pointingit (x)
polar intertia
plep
print fetish
quiet feather (x)
raccoon
rashomon
re: design news
reference library
rock, paper, shotgun
rodcorp
rogue semiotics
rolu
rossignol
rotational
route 79
russell davies
sachs report
salon
samuel pepys' diary
school of life
scrubbles
segal books
sensing architecture
sensory impact
sesquipedalist
sevensevennine
shape and colour
sharpeworld
shift
shorpy
sit down man, you're...
slow web
snopes
space and culture
spambot_stopper
speak up
spillway
spitting image
strange attractor
strange harvest
strange maps
strawdogs
subterranea britannica
subtopia
sugar-n-spicy
supercolossal
superspatial
swapatorium
swiss miss
tecnologia obsoleta
tecznotes
telstar logistics
tesugen
textism
that's how it happened
the art of where
the deep north
the letter
the model city
the moment blog
the morning news
the nonist
the northern light
the one train
the serif
the silver lining
the white noise revisited
they rule
things to look at
this isn't London
tom phillips
tomorrow's thoughts today
transpontine
turquoise days (x)
typographica
urban cartography
urbantick
vitamin q
voyou desoeuvre
vwork
wallpaper
we make money not art
we will become
weblogs.com
weburbanist
where (x)
white noise of everyday life
wikipedia
wikio
witold riedel
whole lotta nothing
wood s lot
wrong distance
xblog


weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
The spaces in between. In this ode to the visual wonders of silt, BLDBLOG dredges up its ongoing fascination with J.G.Ballard's Drowned World, which features a city overwhelmed by catastrophe (another chance to link the If London were like Venice page). As well as describing fractured landscapes, Ballard also likes his humans to be critically damaged in some way, believing that their hard-won bruises and lacerations somehow make the soul sing a little louder, heightening perception of the self (an aside: all Ballard's characters tend to have wonderfully robust and direct names: Robert Maitland, Helen Fairfax, Catherine Austin, Dr Robert Laing, David Markham).

For Ballard, the landscapes of the city and the human body are interchangeable, one mirroring the other. Characters only truly awaken when their everyday banalities and ordinary transgressions are brought into sharp focus by self-inflicted catastrophe and technological revenge. Crash being the obvious example - 'the first pornographic novel about technology'. The novel's themes, which can be traced back to Futurist blood-lust, continue to resonate through art and photography. See the car crash photos of Jeff Busby, as published in Amplification, reviewed here at Ballardian, whose title bar image of a motorway's underbelly mirrors Ballard's world view. There's also the fascinating Karambolage, the catalogue of the work of Arnold Odermatt (hopefully more about this in things 19).

The best ode to otherness in Ballard's oeuvre is Concrete Island, the tale of a motorist stranded on a barren patch of waste ground in the intersection between several fast-moving urban motorways (also a play. Although at first Robert Maitland's fellow motorists' refusal to stop appears unrealistic, he is soon truly stranded. Within 20 pages, Maitland has catastrophically damaged his leg; 'His right thigh and hip had swollen into a massive contusion, and the head of his thigh-bone seemed to be fused into the damaged pelvic socket'. Escape up the steep embankment now appears impossible. Unsurprisingly, Maitland is an architect, and his concrete exile is portrayed as self-willed, a subconscious act resulting from his careless, casual speeding in his silver Jaguar, or even his profession's collective guilt about the whole enterprise of the urban motorway.

Maitland's car and body suffer similar abuse, as does the city, for which the dead space of the concrete island appears as a bruise or cut. The book is a paean to what the academic Alan Berger calls 'drosscape', also the title of his forthcoming book, Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America. This promises to be a study of American 'wastescapes', the patches of empty land that find themselves in the centre of cities, due to post-industrialisation, intense commercialisation and whatever else. Berger, also the author of Reclaiming the American West, doesn't necessarily have Ballardian themes in mind, but both writers are drawing our attention to these huge physical and mental spaces, with Ballard using them to unspool our unconscious fears, and Berger pointing out that we barely see them anyway.

Unseen spaces and spaces in between also bring to mind the topic of map Copyright Traps (previously mentioned), whereby the imaginary street serves a singular, if devious, purpose. Sometimes these artificial addresses make it into the real city, like the 'houses' at 23/24 Leinster Gardens in Notting Hill (from Urban 75): blank facades that conceal a tube line. Fiction is perhaps the most satisfactory outlet: China Miťville's short story "Reports of Certain Events in London", published in McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, deals with the random, portal-like appearance of whole streets, ramming their way into the urban fabric before vanishing. There's also Markus Nummi's short story 'Adieu Paris' in 17-18. Vaguely related, a bit about London's Urban Sprawl, which links to The Evolution of Slum Clearance Policies in London and Paris.

*

Other things. The story of Space Mountain at Disneyland. We hadn't appreciated how much the exterior of the ride (at least the Anaheim one) looks like the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool. See also the Space Mountain Homepage, with details of the four SM installations (Orlando, Anaheim, Paris and Tokyo), plus copycat 'dark' rides. Visit a slick micro site for Space Mountain 2 or this virtual replica on Google video.

Space-Time Video Completion / the Baldakin Modular Accommodation System / the increasingly infrequent Sachs Report has updated / an enormous collection of cover art for the works of Isaac Asimov (via Plep) / Minor9th, a weblog we haven't visited in a while / nice Strandbeest post at Pruned / explore the Museum of Ephemerata / retrievr (me-fi), a visual (and deliciously imprecise) way of searching flickr images.