A Psychopathic Hymn:

J.G. Ballard's 'Crashed Cars' Exhibition of 1970

Simon Ford

For him these wounds were the keys to a new sexuality born from a perverse technology. The images of these wounds hung in the gallery of his mind like exhibits in the museum of a slaughterhouse.1

In 1958 the assistant editor of Chemistry and Industry, a journal published by the Society of the Chemical Industry, produced a series of text-based collages. Project for a New Novel consisted of four double page spreads, with typeface borrowed from the American magazine Chemical and Engineering News. The author, J.G. Ballard, later described the work as 'sample pages of a new kind of novel, entirely consisting of magazine-style headlines and layouts, with a deliberately meaningless text, the idea being that the imaginative content could be carried by the headlines and overall design.'2 Martin Bax, editor of the literary magazine Ambit, recalled that Ballard's initial plan for the collages was to have them enlarged and put on billboards: 'What he said was – what people read nowadays is advertising, so if you want to have novels that people read, you should publish them as advertisements!'3 Over the years the collages, with their mentions of characters such as Kline, Coma and Xero, proved to be uncannily prescient of Ballard's subsequent interests.

This early indication of Ballard's fascination with the culture of publicity culminated in the late sixties with a series of self-produced advertisements for various literary magazines. Rather than advertise a particular product, such as his latest book, Ballard instead produced enigmatic juxtapositions of image and text that resembled mini-prospectuses for future novels. Likening himself to a brand he credited them as 'A J.G. Ballard Production'. The 1967 advertisement 'Does the Angle Between Two Walls Have a Happy Ending?' was typical, with its combination of a film still (a low-angle high-contrast photograph of a woman with her hand covering her genitals) and the text: 'Fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessel are the written mythologies of memory and desire. Sex: Inner Space: J.G. Ballard.'4 The text conformed to Ballard's oft-stated assertion that the imagination of the science fiction writer was best directed away from fantasies of exploring outer space in favour of an exploration of the internal landscape of the mind.5

Ballard produced all the artwork for the advertisements himself and in all dealings with the magazines acted exactly like a commercial client. He initially wanted to place them in upmarket magazines such as Vogue or Paris Match, but soon realised he could only afford to publish them in smaller literary magazine such as Ambit and New Worlds.6 To subsidise his costs Ballard applied to the Arts Council for a £1,000 grant. According to the Sunday Times the advertisements would have featured 'a nude on Westminster Abbey's high altar, a motor crash, and Princess Margaret's left armpit.'7 The Arts Council eventually refused the application, perhaps mindful of Ballard's increasingly controversial subject matter epitomised by the title of his latest text for Ambit: 'Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy.'8

Ballard's interest in advertising imagery complimented his enthusiasm for Pop Art, especially works by Andy Warhol and the Scottish artist, Eduardo Paolozzi. Ballard first met Paolozzi in 1966 when, along with Michael Moorcock, he visited the artist to discuss his possible involvement in the science fiction magazine New Worlds. Ballard and Paolozzi subsequently became friends, not least because they shared a fascination with the imagery and artefacts of consumer society and its mass-produced popular culture. Works such as Paolozzi's 1964 sculpture Crash (an assemblage of various pipes and cylinders) could be seen as analogous to the fragmentary texts that Ballard was then starting to produce and that he would eventually collect together in 1970 for The Atrocity Exhibition.9

In May 1968 Ballard was planning, along with Paolozzi and the psychologist Dr Christopher Evans, to produce a play at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) entitled Crash, featuring a crashed car. As described at the time by June Rose in the Sunday Mirror: 'all the horror and realism of an actual road smash will be played out in front of the audience. The young driver, in blood-covered track suit, will lie beside the mangled car. His girl friend will kneel beside him, caressing him. Dummies will mouth words about the beautiful and desirable features of the motor car. Behind them, film of cars crashing will make up the stark and terrible accompaniment.'10 According to Rose's description the production would feature crash-test dummies by Paolozzi and a meta-commentary narrated by Evans. The narrative developed by Ballard involved a young man buying his first car, his death in a car crash and his subsequent transformation into a victim-hero. For Ballard the play demonstrated how car crashes had the effect of 'liberating sexual libido, radiating the sexuality and energy of the victim who died in an intensity impossible in any other form.'11

Crash, the play, never came to fruition but another adaptation of Ballard's work did take place at the ICA just over a year later in August 1969. Without his direct involvement a group of architects, designers and Lambda actors put on a mixed media production of his 1966 short story, 'The Assassination Weapon'. Punch's Jeremy Kingston described the ambitious and complicated production: 'In the centre of the room a large white disc slowly rotates. Projectors in the four corners flash images on to this double screen while a voice sonorously reads passages by the ex-science-fiction writer J.G. Ballard … The superimposed photographs, surrealist paintings, charts and mandalas coupled with Ballard's dense distressed sentences have the texture of an unhappy dream. A Max Ernst worldscape of mighty fragments – flyovers, deserts, dark reservoirs, radio-telescopes – following the private logic of an hallucinating mind. Puzzling, frequently powerful, devised and invented with ingenuity and skill.'12

The many projects, collaborations and adaptations outlined above serve to indicate that although Ballard's main focus was his short story and novel writing he also harbored ambitions to operate in the wider cultural field. In particular, despite Crash the play, being abandoned he continued to develop his ideas about the cultural meaning of car crashes. The next form this research took was as an exhibition at the recently opened New Arts Lab at 1 Robert Street in London. Adjacent to the busy Hampstead Road and opposite an imposing high-rise housing estate, it was situated in just the kind of post-industrial hinterland that Ballard frequently featured in his fiction.13 He described the space as 'a one-time pharmaceutical warehouse; its open concrete decks were the perfect setting for its brutalist happenings and exhibitions, its huge ventilation shafts purpose-built to evacuate the last breath of pot smoke in the event of a drugs raid.'14

The New Arts Lab had been set up by a group of dissidents recently associated with the first Arts Lab in Covent Garden.15 With Camden Council they negotiated a short-lease arrangement for the building and set up IRAT (Institute for Research in Art & Technology) to manage the space. Amongst the trustees were Ballard, Reyner Banham, Dr Christopher Evans, Richard W. Evans, Cllr. Christine Stewart and artist Joe Tilson. The Rt. Hon. Lord Harlech acted as Patron and Lord Burgh as Sponsor. The Directors in August 1970 were listed as Lance Blackstone, David Curtis, Hugh Davies, Fred Drummond, John Hopkins, Rosemary Johnson, David Kilburn, Malcolm Le Grice, Diane Lifton, John Lifton, Carla Liss (USA), Joebear Webb, Pamela Zoline (USA) with Biddy Peppin as Secretary.16

IRAT encouraged cross-disciplinary work in cinema, video, print, theatre, music, photography and cybernetics. The gallery space was officially opened on 4 October 1969 and featured a poetry writing machine attached to a nearby teleprinter and another computer in Great Portland Street.17 The gallery shared the ground floor of the building with a small cinema and in the weeks leading up to Ballard's exhibition the New Arts Lab's programme included screenings of Andy Warhol's films and an exhibition by Ian Breakwell and John Hilliard.18

As advertised in Art & Artists, 'Jim Ballard: Crashed Cars' took place at the gallery between 4-28 April 1970.19 The cars – a Pontiac, an Austin Cambridge A60 and a Mini – were hired from Charles Symmonds's knacker's yard, Motor Crash Repairs. 'They don't appeal to me as art,' Symmonds told the Sunday Times. 'I detest cars. But maybe it's a good idea to show crashed cars. It's frightening.'20 Ballard's choice of car was far from accidental. The Pontiac was a model from the mid-fifties, and thus represented a particularly baroque phase in American car styling, while the Mini symbolised the fun-loving mobility of the swinging sixties. The sober and conservative saloon, the A60, stood for the Mini's exact antithesis.21 All however, through the catastrophe of the car crash, were now in a sense equivalent; smashed and levelled to the raw material of their crushed metal, broken glass, and stained upholstery.22

Ballard's decision to focus on such a traumatic event and the presentation of its aftermath as an artwork proved particularly challenging to its audience. For Ballard cars were the key symbol of the twentieth century. In 1971 he described them as encapsulating 'speed, drama and aggression, the worlds of advertising and consumer goods, engineering and mass manufacture, and the shared experience of moving together through an elaborately signalled landscape.'23 Ballard was not, of course, the first artist to celebrate and recognise the significance of the motorcar. Precedents exist from the early days of avant-gardism. Take, for example, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's 'The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism' (1909) with its celebration of the 'beauty of speed' and its assertion that 'a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.'24 Cars also featured as subject matter and raw material in the post-war sculpture of the American artist John Chamberlain and the Nouveaux Réaliste artist César Baldaccini. Examples of works specifically relating to car crashes include Jim Dine's happening, The Car Crash, held at the Reuben Gallery, New York, in 1960 and Andy Warhol's car crash screenprints of 1963. Also in 1963 Arman created White Orchid, a fully functional white MG convertible sports car, dynamited in a quarry near Düsseldorf and then exhibited pinned to a wall. It is uncertain whether Ballard knew of these precedents, although he was certainly aware of the American artist Ed Keinholz and his work Dodge 38 because he described it with some relish in The Atrocity Exhibition as 'a wrecked white car with the plastic dummies of a World War III pilot and a girl with facial burns making love among a refuse of bubblegum war cards and oral contraceptive wallets.'25

To make explicit some of the ideas behind 'Crashed Cars' Ballard produced an exhibition handout.

Each of these sculptures is a memorial to a unique collision between man and his technology. However tragic they are, automobile crashes play very different roles from the ones we assign them. Behind our horror lie an undeniable fascination and excitement, most clearly revealed by the deaths of the famous: Jayne Mansfield and James Dean, Albert Camus and John F. Kennedy. The 20th century has given birth to a vast range of machines – computers, pilotless planes, thermonuclear weapons – where the latent identity of the machine is ambiguous. An understanding of this identity can be found in a study of the automobile, which dominates the vectors of speed, aggression, violence and desire.

In particular, the automobile crash contains a crucial image of the machine as conceptualised psychopathology. Apart from its function of redefining the elements of space and time in terms of our most potent consumer durable, the car crash may be perceived unconsciously as a fertilising rather than a destructive event – a liberation of sexual energy – meditating the asexuality [sic] of those who have died with an intensity impossible in any other form. In 20th century terms the crucifixion would be enacted as a conceptual car crash.

The car crash is the most dramatic event we are likely to experience in our entire lives apart from our own deaths.26

In his fictionalised autobiography, The Kindness of Women, Ballard replaced this text with one adapted from his 1974 introduction to the French edition of Crash. This fictionalised handout extended Ballard's analysis further, describing the sixties as the decade of the marriage of reason and nightmare, a decade dominated by 'sinister technologies.' In this new world nuclear weapons and soft-drink advertisements coexisted 'in an uneasy realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. The death of feeling and emotion has at last left us free to pursue our own psychopathologies as a game.' The exhibition, he claimed, pointed to a 'pandemic cataclysm that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year and injures millions, but is a source of endless entertainment on our film and television screens.'27

That he had hit upon a theme of some power became immediately apparent on the night of 3rd April when the exhibition opened. In his account of the opening party the 100-odd guests quickly became drunk, while at Ballard's invitation a topless woman circulated, interviewing members of the audience for a closed-circuit television broadcast. The incongruity of the crashed cars and this celebratory social event was further compounded by the alcohol-induced removal of social constraints and the distancing effect of guests watching themselves on closed-circuit television monitors. The result, according to Ballard, was 'nervous hysteria.'28 Guests poured wine over the cars, broke their glasses and the topless interviewer, Ballard claimed, 'was nearly raped in the back seat of the Pontiac by some self-aggrandizing character.'29 The exhibition continued to act as a stimulus to transgressive acts well after the opening party. In the following days visitors repeatedly attacked the cars, daubed them in paint, broke windows, tore off wing mirrors, and urinated on the seats. Such was the violence directed at the cars that the staff at Motor Crash Repairs were shocked when Ballard returned them to the yard.30

Although Ballard's fiction contained many examples of the conditioning effect of an environment on the psychological state of his characters, he later expressed some shock at the aggression shown towards the cars.31 What he underestimated was the force of the reaction and the desire on the part of some visitors to continue with the process of destruction and desecration of the cars. But what the exhibition and the audience's reaction did confirm was Ballard's thesis that social relations between individuals were now increasingly complicated by our relationship with what he termed the 'technological landscape'.32 The exhibition of crashed cars provided the opportunity to make this relationship manifest in a psychologically heightened manner. The exhibition engaged its audience in a phenomenological sense that no novel could ever hope to achieve, including Ballard's latest publication The Atrocity Exhibition.

Described by Roger Lockhurst as a 'bizarre exhibition catalogue'33 The Atrocity Exhibition collected together works written between 1966 and 1969 for journals including Ambit, Encounter, ICA Eventsheet and International Times. In terms of experimental fiction it was Ballard's most ambitious book to date. With its non-linear narrative structure, its clinically repetitive style and its clipped short paragraphs, the book reflected Ballard's uniquely eclectic taste in what he called the 'invisible literature' of market research reports, company in-house magazines, promotional copy, press releases, science abstracts, internal memoranda, sex manuals, and government reports.34 Ballard's original concept for The Atrocity Exhibition was to make it radical in both form and content. Perhaps with Paolozzi's print portfolios in mind, he had intended the book to be published in a large format and illustrated with his own collages of medical textbook and car crash imagery. The publisher Jonathan Cape, however, rejected this proposal. Ballard later complained that to them an illustrated book meant a text accompanied by a few line drawings by a distinguished artist such as Felix Topolski.35 Ballard's publisher, however, did nothing to discourage his obsession with apparently irrational acts of violence in modern society and the complicity of the entertainment industry to turn these events into 'atrocity exhibitions'. The 'Crashed Cars' exhibition enabled Ballard to transplant this fictional world of the imagination from the page and place it in the context of a real exhibition of atrocities. This was fact following fiction. In The Atrocity Exhibition the main character – variously named Travers, Talbert, Travis etc – organized an exhibition of crashed cars and founded Crash magazine, which reproduced photographs of the mutilated bodies of celebrity car crash victims including Jayne Mansfield, Albert Camus and James Dean, creating tableaux of what Ballard described as 'epiphanies of violence and desire.'36 Later in the book Ballard's 'Dr Nathan' attempted to explain the main character's troubled relationship with violence, and linked it specifically to 'the death of affect': 'The only way we can make contact with each other is in terms of conceptualisations. Violence is the conceptualisation of pain. By the same token psychopathology is the conceptual system of sex.'37 The automobile crash formed the 'crucial image of the machine as conceptualised psychopathology.'38 It soon became clear, however, that Dr Nathan's discourse formed its own type of psychopathology, a psychopathology of pornography. As an analytical process that often sought to separate matter and action from its context, the discourse of the detached scientific observer represented 'the ultimate pornography.'39 The crashed car therefore becomes a site where the discourses of sexuality and psychopathology fuse, where we all slow down to observe 'the new logic of violence and sensation that ruled our lives.'40 The exhibition extenuated this logic of violence because as Ballard realised, in the society of the spectacle the 'atrocity exhibition was more stirring than the atrocity.'41

The exhibition therefore encapsulated Ballard's key concerns at this time; in particular the death of affect resulting from our increasing alienation from direct experience. The car crash represented this by default through being one of the few dramatic acts of violence a person might witness or experience as real rather than as an imaginative act.42 The exhibition of the 'found' and 'ready-made' crashed cars, selected but unaltered by Ballard, aimed to reproduce the associated glamour of the car crash fed to us in films and news reports. Ballard likened the exhibition to a 'psychological test', a way to examine an 'hypotheses about our unconscious fascination with car crashes and their latent sexuality.'43 The intense reaction convinced him that the subject carried more than a limited or specialised interest and spurred him on to write his most celebrated novel, Crash.44

Situated historically as the 'sixties' became the 'seventies', the exhibition took place at a time of transition from a period characterised by optimism and increasing prosperity to one characterised by uncertainty, economic recession and crisis. In this sense Ballard's 'Crashed Cars' exhibition, like his fiction, looked forward to a future where the promised liberatory role of new technologies was overshadowed by the often deadly consequences of that same technological 'progress'. Cars would continue to be death traps, the logic of their moving parts dedicated to their own, and periodically our, obsolescence. Like the novel it inspired the 'Crashed Cars' exhibition revealed cars as objects of both consecration and desecration, instant relics of a new but powerful anti-humanist force in society.

In his introduction to the novel Crash Ballard described his aspiration to write as if he were a scientist faced with the unknown: 'All he can do is to devise various hypotheses and test them against the facts.'45 But despite this disinterested stance Ballard also claimed for Crash a moral message: 'the ultimate role of Crash is cautionary, a warning against the brutal, erotic and overlit realm that beckons more and more persuasively to us from the margins of the technological landscape.'46 For Jean Baudrillard this did not make for a convincing argument. For Baudrillard the true 'miracle' of Crash lay in its rejection of the 'moral gaze': 'Crash is hypercritical, in the sense of being beyond the critical.'47 Ballard later modified his position on Crash and came to recognise that perhaps it was not a cautionary tale after all: 'Crash is what it appears to be. It is a psychopathic hymn.'48

© Simon Ford, 9 September 2005


  1. J.G. Ballard, Crash, London: Vintage, 1995, p. 13. First published 1973.

  2. Vale and Andrea Juno (eds.), J. G. Ballard, San Francisco: Re/Search, 1984, p. 38.

  3. 'Interview with Martin Bax' in: Vale and Juno (eds.), 1984, op cit., p. 39. It took another twenty years before this work was published in a magazine. See J.G. Ballard, 'Zero Synthesis…', New Worlds, no. 213, Summer 1978.

  4. Ambit, no. 33, 1967. The advertisement was also published in New Worlds, no. 178, December 1967. The film still came from Alone by Steve Dwoskin. Ballard's appreciation of Dwoskin's films led to his providing the text for 'The Bathroom: A Film In Progress by Steve Dwoskin', The Running Man, vol. 1, no. 2, July-Aug 1968. The other advertisements were: 'Homage to Claire Churchill', Ambit, no. 32, 1967 (also published on the inside front cover of New Worlds, no. 176, October 1967); 'A Neural Interval', Ambit, no. 36, 1968 (also published in New Worlds, no. 185, December 1968); 'Placental Insufficiency', Ambit, no. 45, 1970; and 'Venus Smiles', Ambit, no. 46, 1970/1971.

  5. This position can be usefully compared to Alexander Trocchi's contemporary project to become a 'cosmonaut of inner space', see Andrew Murray Scott (ed.), Alexander Trocchi: Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds: A Trocchi Reader, Edinburgh: Polygon, 1991.

  6. Ballard in: Vale and Juno (eds.), p. 147.

  7. Anon. 'J.G. Ballard: Advertising Is the Medium', Sunday Times, 19 October 1967. Extract quoted in: David Pringle, J.G. Ballard: A Primary & Secondary Bibliography, Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Co., 1984, p. 89.

  8. Ambit, no. 31, 1967. Ballard appears to have half-expected the Arts Council's refusal of the application: 'Sadly, I ran out of cash, and my half-serious application for a grant … was turned down'. J.G. Ballard, Atrocity Exhibition, San Fancisco: Re/Search Publications, 1990, pp. 46-47.

  9. J.G. Ballard, Atrocity Exhibition, London: Jonathan Cape, 1970. By 1970 Ballard and Paolozzi were closely involved in each other's practice. For example Ballard wrote the introductory text for Paolozzi's General Dynamic Fun portfolio of 1970 and Ballard also knew of Paolozzi's collection of crash test dummy photographs. Paolozzi made use of this material in five etchings entitled 'Mannikins for Destruction' in the portfolio Conditional Probability Machine (1970), printed by Alecto Studios, London. He also used a dummy's head in the sculpture Crash Head (1971), now in the Krazy Kat Arkive, Victoria & Albert Museum. See: Robin Spencer (ed.) Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 204. Another experimental work by Ballard that drew on the visual arts from this period included his concrete poem, 'Love: A Print-out for Claire Churchill' (1968), first published in Ambit, no. 37, 1968, p. 9.

  10. June Rose, 'If Christ Came Again He Would Be Killed in a Car Crash', Sunday Mirror, 19 May 1968.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Jeremy Kingston, 'At The Theatre', Punch, 20 August 1969, pp. 313-314. Transcribed in Pringle, p. 91. The short story was first published as: 'Assassination Weapon', New Worlds, 49, no. 161, April 1966, pp. 4-12. Revised edition published in: J.G. Ballard, Atrocity Exhibition, St Albans: Panther, 1972, pp. 37-46. First published 1970.

  13. See Ballard's Concrete Island, London: Jonathan Cape, 1974 and High Rise, London: Jonathan Cape, 1975. Rather fittingly, considering Ballard's interest in ruins and memories, the building has since been demolished and the site buried beneath an extension of the high-rise housing estate.

  14. This description comes from his fictional autobiography, The Kindness of Women, London: Flamingo, 1994, p. 223. There may be some poetic licence at work here as, according to David Curtis and Biddy Peppin, there were no ventilation shafts at Gordon Street (information from David Curtis, conversation with author, 19 January 2005).

  15. Opened in July 1967 by Jim Haynes, the Arts Lab on Drury Lane housed not only an exhibition space but also a cinema and refectory. Such amenities made it perfect for live events and 'happenings' and helped establish it as the quintessential drop-in/drop-out centre of the London counter-culture. Despite its closure in the winter of 1969, it provided a model for many new art centres that opened throughout Britain in the early 1970s, including the New Arts Lab.

  16. From headed paper in the IRAT papers in the British Artists' Film & Video Study Collection in Central St. Martins ([http://www.studycollection.org.uk/]65 ). For an account of the Lab's guiding principles see: John Hopkins, 'New Arts Lab', Friends, no. 5, 14 April 1970, p. 9.

  17. See John Hopkins, 'Telecompint' [sic], Friends, no. 4, March 1970, p. 12. This event was also covered in the Hampstead and Highgate Express, 10 October 1969, where Ballard was mentioned as a guest. The archives of IRAT can be found in the British Artists' Film & Video Study Collection at Central St Martins College of Art and Design. The Gordon Street space finally closed on 26 March 1971 when Camden Council reclaimed the building. IRAT Ltd. continued and set up a new space at 15 Prince of Wales Crescent, London, NW1 8HA, where it operated till at least April 1972.

  18. The Breakwell and Hilliard exhibition opened on 28 February and closed on 21 March 1970. Prior to this exhibition the gallery had been closed for extensive renovation work. At this time the shows were arranged by Pamela Zoline, Biddy Peppin, Liz Ewens and Godfrey Rubens. After Ballard's exhibition came 'Diagrams/Similes: Judith Clark' and 'Things in the World: Pamela Zoline', 5-25 June 1970, and then an exhibition by the Italian art group Amodulo, 'Amodulo Art', 31 June – 19 July 1970.

  19. Art & Artists, April 1970, p. 40.

  20. Quoted from: Pringle, op cit., p. 92. In The Kindness of Women the cars became a Peugeot, a Mini and a black Lincoln Continental, identical to President Kennedy's limousine. See: Ballard, 1994, p. 226.

  21. A white Pontiac also featured in Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition. In a note added to this book he explained why he was particularly interested in this car: 'Why a white Pontiac? A British pop star of the 1960s, Dicky Valentine, drove his daughter in a white Pontiac to the same school that my own children attended near the film studios at Shepperton. The car had a powerful iconic presence, emerging from all those American movies into the tranquil TV suburbs. Soon after, Valentine died in a car accident.' Ballard, 1990, op cit., p. 9.

  22. A photograph (credited to Hulton Getty) of the smashed up Pontiac with a women sitting in the passenger seat holding up a hand-painted sign '£3000' can be seen in: Rugoff, Ralph. 'Dangerous Driving: J.G. Ballard interviewed by Ralph Rugoff', Frieze, no. 34, 1997, pp. 48-53.

  23. 'The Car, The Future', in: J.G. Ballard, Users' Guide to the Millennium, London: Flamingo, 1996, p. 262. First published in Drive, 1971.

  24. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's 'The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism' (1909) in Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds.), Art in Theory: 1900-2000: An Anthology of Ideas, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003, p. 147.

  25. Ballard, 1972, p. 16. First published 1970.

  26. Transcribed in: Jo Stanley, 'Ballard Crashes', Friends, no. 7, 29 May 1970, pp. 4-5. This handout text is based on passages that also appeared in Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition, see Ballard, 1972, p. 125. The phrase quoted above, 'meditating the asexuality ...', appears in as Atrocity Exhibition 'mediating the sexuality ...'.

  27. Ballard, 1994, p. 226.

  28. Ballard, 1990, p. 25. This was not the last time Ballard worked with scantily clad women. For a few years after the exhibition the professional stripper, Euphoria Bliss, could be found at events reading, naked, extracts from his work. A photograph of Euphoria performing watched by the male members of the Ambit staff, including Ballard, was published on the front cover of the magazine (no. 50) in 1972.

  29. Ballard quoted in: Eduardo Paolozzi, J.G. Ballard and Frank Whitford, 'Speculative Illustrations', Studio International, 1971, vol. 182, pp. 136–143. Ballard's memory of the exhibition may have informed an episode that takes place in his later novel Cocaine Nights where a group of onlookers assemble to witness a violent assault: 'They had watched the rape attempt without intervening, like a gallery audience at an exclusive private view.' J.G. Ballard, Cocaine Nights, London: Flamingo, 1997, p. 58.

  30. Ballard, 1994, p. 230.

  31. Paolozzi, Ballard, and Whitford, 1971.

  32. J.G. Ballard, 'Fictions of Every Kind', in Vale and Juno (eds.), 1984, p. 99. Article first published, Books and Bookmen, February 1971.

  33. Roger Lockhurst, The Angle Between Two Walls': The Fiction of J.G. Ballard, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997, p. 74.

  34. J.G. Ballard, 'Quotations by Ballard', in Vale and Juno (eds.), 1984, p. 156. This list comes from an article first published in Books and Bookmen, 9 July 1970.

  35. Ballard quoted in David Pringle 'From Shanghai to Shepperton', in Vale and Juno (eds.), 1984, p. 124. Interview first published in Foundation, no. 24, February 1982.

  36. Ballard, 1972, p. 30.

  37. Ibid., pp. 93-94.

  38. Ibid., p. 124.

  39. Ibid., p. 44.

  40. Ballard, 1994, p. 226.

  41. Ibid., p. 119.

  42. Ballard was himself involved in a car crash, not long after the publication of Crash, when his Ford Zephyr blew a tyre on the motorway, hit the central barrier, rolled over and was narrowly missed by oncoming traffic.

  43. Quoted in: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Interviews: Volume 1. Milan: Charta, 2003, pp. 61-62.

  44. See a note on the exhibition in: Ballard, 1990, p. 25.

  45. Ballard, 1995, p. 6.

  46. Ibid., p. 6.

  47. Jean Baudrillard, 'Ballard's Crash,' Science Fiction Studies, no. 55, vol. 18, part 3, November 1991, pp. 309-19. See also Nicholas Ruddick's response 'Ballard/Crash/Baudrillard', Science Fiction Studies, no. 58, vol. 19, part 3, November 1992, pp. 354-60.

  48. Ballard in: Will Self, Junk Mail, London: Penguin, 1996, p. 369.