Artworking JG Ballard’s The Singing Statues
‘Zero Orbit had also gone. I assumed that Lunora had taken it with her, so immersed in her self-love that she preferred a clouded mirror which had once told her of her beauty to no mirror at all.’ —JG Ballard, The Singing Statues
When technology so easily gifts us to ourselves you know there has to be a catch. And when the glitch becomes part of an aesthetic the self-commodification is all but complete… perhaps.
Written in 1962 Ballard’s short story The Singing Statues, part of the Vermillion Sands collection, still imagined an outside, an ‘other’ that might intrude on our self-certainty. For Ballard, this was not necessarily an enemy, ‘out there’, but a facet of ourselves at war with ourselves in some deep, dark place. Ballard wrote at modernism’s edges with a creative prescience whose morality was never pious. Accordingly the narcissism of the modern age (capitalism at its most atomistic..?), as a form of ‘self-closure’, is not necessarily to be resisted — the abyssal will always find a way in — possibly when it is most eschewed. Was this Ballard’s message..?