Mark Dery on The Office Park

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I've posted previously about artist Nicholas Cobb who built and photographed a detailed architecture model of a Ballardian office park "where where work is done, as well as extracurricular activities of a more malevolent nature." Over at 21C, culture critic Mark Dery, himself a JG Ballard disciple and scholar, takes us on a tour of Cobb's not-so-imaginary postmodern landscape. From 21C:

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Ballard's "psycho-spatial" critique of the built environment (a term coined by the architectural critic Geoff Manaugh) was an active ingredient in The Office Park. In Crash, Concrete Island, Kingdom Come, and Super-Cannes, Ballard reveals himself as our preeminent social theorist of postmodern (and, increasingly, posthuman) landscapes: freeways and traffic islands, suburbia and megamalls, office parks and gated communities.

By the summer of 2008, Cobb had worked his way through the novels in question and emerged deeply influenced by Ballard's analysis. Following the lead of Will Self—an avowed Ballardian whose philosophical investigations into "the modern conundrum of psyche and place," in Psychogeography, had led the photographer to Ballard in the first place—Cobb "went for a series of walks along arterial routes heading out of London," Ballard's narratorial voiceover echoing in his head like a museum audio guide.

Of course, wandering the city in search of serendipity, perversity, or "profane illumination" (Walter Benjamin's term for Surrealism's ability to make us see the everyday in radically dislocating ways) is an implicitly political act—especially so for a photographer, in a city that monitors its threat level like the jittery EKG of the Age of Terror, in a CCTV-infested "surveillance society" noted for its irony-free hostility toward people who take pictures in public places.

"Mark Dery on The Office Park"