J.G Ballard – Crash
In J.G Ballard’s book Crash, the fetishisation of technology is explored and reality and virtuality cross paths. The automobile is used as a tool of escapism for the protagonist ‘Ballard’, who after becoming a crash victim himself becomes involved with a group of adolescents who have all had similar experiences and who are sexually infatuated with automobile accidents. Set in an industrial time where “we have exhausted all means of transcendence aesthetic, sexual, political, religious and have substituted for them an inertial and endless proliferation of ourselves.” (Baxter, J 2008 p34)In the book ‘Ballard’ is facing a difficult period with his wife Catherine and finds that the danger of his newly found friends and recently encountered desires re-fill their relationship with excitement.
Here are some pieces of visual art based on Crash that I found inspiring.
Cyberpop and The Matrix
“Cyberpop is a form of escapist mass media “manufactured diversions and “forms of pure spectacle”.
(Matrix, S, E 2006)
Films such as the Wachowski brothers Matrix and the anime Ghost In the Shell provide a landscape that is not to detatched from the worlds present in video games or comic novels and order us to think about the ways in which technology is shaping our every day lives, changing the way our imagination works and how our communities can change. These films are techno-fetishism in the highest order and although one is presented as a Hollywood action movie and the other as an animation, these be seen as a critique on our society that would become even more technology obsessed than it ever has been. Both films reflect the dark, dystopian landscapes present Ballard’s Crash, however the seedy and disturbing content is replaced with a far more glorified, consumerist lead vision of the technological world. Although there are obviously dramatic and sombre areas of content within The Matrix and Ghost In The Shell there is a sense that the way in which these films are presented encourages our obsession with technology, for example both feature the styling’s of the subculture cyberpunk which celebrates our attachment to the virtual world through the means of media and fashion.
Japan – Population crises
In present day, Japan is experiencing a rapid drop in population, due to less marriages and births and have according to sensationalist views the people of the country, lost interest in sex altogether. Although I found this documentary quite over the top and perhaps more eager to create an interesting story, rather than actually display well researched facts, I did still find a particular area interesting. Perhaps this is a rather extreme example, but whilst exploring the world of Otaku culture Anita meets two men in their late thirties who claim to have developed in-depth relationships with virtual teenage girlfriends as part of a role playing game on the Nintendo D.S. One of the men said he would have to think twice over choosing the game or his actual wife and keeps the game secret from her. Whether these claims are exaggerated or not or if these are just two very extreme examples I still find this concept very interesting. The game clearly provides the men with strong feelings of excitement, escapism and perhaps new feelings that they can not experience with a real women. Both have also chosen women of the age of 15 as they say that it reminds them of being teenagers in high school, when they struggled to find women. Whether this adds to the population problem or not, I do believe that this is something that is to be expected of the western world, where there is so much technology to distract us from the mundaneness of every day life and the problems we encounter.