Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Conceptual Death

Timely article by Rick Poynor on the visualisations of J.G. Ballard's fiction.

My motivation for exploring the visual representation of Ballard’s writing stems, as I have said, from a feeling of dissatisfaction with the way so many of his books were presented. Why didn’t he do more to ensure that his book covers expressed his aims better? His enthusiasm for art would seem not only to have qualified him for the task, but to have made it a personal necessity. In his early days as a writer, Ballard did make efforts in this direction, though he was usually thwarted. In correspondence with me, he was particularly dismissive of Cape, saying that he was “very poorly published” by the company. He also noted that, “Jacket design is a vast and contentious subject, and authors can be a nightmare for jacket designers.” Yet his subsequent UK hardback fiction publishers, Gollancz and HarperCollins, and his paperback publishers, didn’t serve him much better. It is common today for writers, especially successful writers, to have a say in their covers. Could it be that Ballard overlooked design and in particular graphic design as an area of ever-increasing significance, despite his immense sensitivity to so many aspects of visual culture?


We can only hope that one day, as his books are reissued, this exceptionally visual writer will routinely receive cover designs as intelligent, challenging and original as his one-of-a-kind vision deserves.

I say timely because that's precisely what I'm attempting to do at the moment.

This may involve producing a cover for Empire of the Sun which doesn't feature the Japanese flag.

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