Tuesday, 26 August 2014

J.G. Ballard's Invisible Library

Untitled (White Library) by Wilfredo Prieto at MoNA
“... I have always been a voracious reader of what I call invisible literatures” - JG Ballard, The Pleasure of Reading, Antonia Fraser (ed.), 1992.

A couple of months ago I published a write-up of the 'Landscapes of Tomorrow: J.G. Ballard in Space and Time' conference, which took place at the University of Leeds on 3 May 2014. In that post, I mentioned the collection of ephemera that Ballard would refer to as 'invisible literatures', including but not limited to scientific journals, technical manuals, pharmaceutical company brochures, think-tank internal documents and PR company position papers - in Ballard's own words: 'part of that universe of published material to which most literate people have scarcely any access but which provides the most potent compost for the imagination'.

For some time, I've been interested in the significance of these texts and their influence on Ballard's writing, which prompted the current Invisible Library project, a collaborative online catalogue. This is a joint effort with Mike Bonsall, whose own site, Digital Ballard, carries the tagline 'Adventures with J.G. Ballard in the Digital Humanities'. Mike's site interprets Ballard's fiction using a variety of digital tools, with fascinating results. Highlights include Another Terminal Beach, an Interactive Fiction based on Ballard's short story, The Concordance, compiled using all the material in Ballard's published novels and High-Rise: The Movie, an animation of the High Rise plot, made using SketchUp.

With Mike's help an open source list has now been created, collected from various sources, to record the reading material Ballard came into contact with and attempt to make the invisible visible.

So far, the list comprises over 600 items. It's an ongoing project, which invites contributions. To find out more, please visit: http://fentonville.co.uk/invisible-library/

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