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J.G. Ballard and the Pineal Eye 

a critique on modern architecture 


The British Science-Fiction author James Graham Ballard was for sure neither an architecture critique nor an expert in regard to planning and construction, but he had indeed an extraordinary sense for his environment, his fellow people and the social fabrics that surrounded him. His unique ability to grasp his surroundings, certain events and changes of his present and to think those insights further, made him no only to an extraordinary author but also an interesting writer for architecture and urbanism. Within his literary work, Ballard is dealing with the micro cosmos, which contains the fragility of society in relation to spacial conditions. 

Using Baudrillard´s concept of fatal strategies[1], where excessive increase is used as a form of critique, Ballard´s dystopian stories, turn into a critique on modernist architecture. 


This thesis outlined how Ballard used architecture and urban infrastructure in the Concrete and Steel Trilogy(Crash, 1973; Concrete Island, 1974 and High-Rise, 1975) and how he turned existing heterotopias of London into spaces of excess and delirium, into Pineal Eyes.[2] 

Furthermore this paper seeks not only to show how J.G. Ballard set his dystopian future scenarios into his present, inspired by his real environment and how the architecture got much more important as key figure than human beings that are devoted to their environment, which leads and controls them, but also, how his literary work can be used to criticize actual architectural projects and proposals like for example Robin Hood Gardensby Alison and Peter Smithson. 


[1] Jean Baudrillard, Die fatalen Strategien(München: Matthes & Seitz Verlag GmbH, 1991).

[2] The Pineal Eye is a concept of the surrealist French philosopher Georges Bataille; analyzed by Denis Hollier in Against Architecture. The Writings of Georges Bataille(Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992)  

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