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Digital Ballard

Adventures with JG Ballard in the digital humanities


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The Ballard Book Concordance

This concordance is based on Ballard's published books together with various uncollected pieces. Completed in 2008 and thought to be the first ever full concordance of a living author.

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Link to JGB Sentences Twitter

JGB Sentences

My hand-crafted Twitterbot now tweets a random Ballard sentence twice daily.

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The Ballard Interview Concordance

With over 350 interviews, this concordance provides an unprecedented insight into Ballard's thinking and artistic process.

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Link to Ballard Interview Concordance

Crash Cutup Tweets

Another of my Twitterbots cuts up sentences from Ballard's novel Crash in a poetically NSFW way.

High-Rise animation still

High-Rise: The Movie

Ballard was always an intensely visual writer and in the novel High-Rise he gave detailed descriptions of the tower block itself and the floor locations of nearly a hundred residents. Using SketchUp I created my own vision of the tower block and its denizens.

New Ballard Twitter image

New Ballard Tweets

My third Twitterbot spouts chains of Ballard-like text based on his 'urban' novels

Link to Another Terminal Beach game

Another Terminal Beach

Interactive Fiction makes concrete the postmodern trope of the reader creating the fiction; and The Terminal Beach is the most postmodern of stories. In order to complete my online version of the story you must become Traven, inhabiting the mind of this increasingly disturbed survivor of the modern world. Cheat sheet here if you get stuck.

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Ballard's Invisible Library

This site is building a collaborative online catalogue of the 'Invisible Library' that fed Ballard's uniquely fertile imagination. It includes the books and other written materials that Ballard talked about reading, the items in his home library and the many books he reviewed.

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Ballard's Experiment in Chemical Living

The scientific, technical and imaginative motifs that shape the very essence of what we’ve come to know as 'Ballardian' were in no small part forged in his five-year stint as deputy editor of this technical journal.

Link to Terminal Press Facebook

The Ballard Anthologies

Rick McGrath's Terminal Press has produced an invaluable series of anthologies packed with facts and fabulations about Ballard. I contributed 'JG Ballard in the Dissection Room' to the 2013 edition and 'Mind-Mapping The Terminal Beach' in 2014.

Image Ballard Geocoded website

Ballard Geocoded

An interactive map of 550 of the locations JG Ballard mentioned in his fiction, together with links to the relevant text. This demonstrates Ballard's canvas was indeed global.

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The Real Concrete Island

I was fascinated to discover that Ballard had hung around Notting Hill in the 70s with Moorcock and the New Wave SF writers. I was moved to do some geo-detective work on Concrete Island, that great updating of Crusoe, and was surprised by what I found.

Link to Beach Murders

The Beach Murders

In the introduction to this short story, Ballard suggests: "Readers hoping to solve the mystery of the Beach Murders ... may care to approach it in the form of the card game..." I have turned it into a Twine hypertext game.

Image Crash Dummies

The Crash Test Dummies Speak

One of the key scenes in JG Ballard's novel Crash is set at the Road Research Laboratory - but what might the crash test dummies involved have made of it?

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Ballard's Book of Knowledge

The young Ballard avidly consumed this family encyclopaedia, and went on to sell it door to door as a young man. I have scanned all eight volumes so you can share what first fired his young imagination.

Link to Towards Concrete Island

Towards Concrete Island

"During the few seconds before his crash he clutched at the whiplashing spokes of the steering wheel, dazed by the impact of the chromium window pillar against his head." Now, thanks to Google Street View, we can follow Maitland as he crashes onto his Concrete Island.

Image Ballard's Psychic Bid

Ballard's Psychic Bidding

The young Ballard was fascinated by Bridge and the older Ballard was equally fascinated by Time magazine. I've combined the two with appropriate Ballard quotes, click on them to reshuffle.

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Talk to the Ballard-bot

I've made a JG Ballard AI using Ballard's real answers from more than 300 interviews, translated into 50,000 lines of code and hosted by Pandorabots. The Ballard-bot is waiting to answer your questions . . .

Link to JG Ballard in the Dissecting Room

JG Ballard in the Dissecting Room

Ballard noted in his autobiography: "Nearly sixty years later, I still think that my two years of anatomy were among the most important of my life, and helped to frame a large part of my imagination." I wrote about my own experiences of medical school and also compared some of Ballard's output with the dissection manual he used. You can also see a complete copy of his Cunningham's Manual (100MB).

Image Blood on Tracks

Blood on the Tracks

Before clicking on the links above, see if you can identify these two sounds:

   

Another Atrocity image

Another Atrocity

The hypnotic effect of reading The Atrocity Exhibition encouraged me to make this electronic 'cut-up' version. With each hit of the refresh button a unique page of Another Atrocity is created. Suitably macabre illustrations provided by Versalius.


Photo of Mike Bonsall

Mike Bonsall

"It's a little as if I were leading the reader to a deserted laboratory, and that I put a collection of specimens and all the necessary equipment at his disposal. It's his job then to relate these elements together and create reactions from them."
JG Ballard, interviewed by Robert Louit, 1974.

Out of a deep respect for JG Ballard's work and a desire to carry out some of those experiments he speaks of, I've been interpreting his work using a variety of digital tools. Some of the results are shown here.

Mike Bonsall - September 2017


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