Ballard predicted the rise of the selfie


Upon the release of High-Rise in cinemas, Tom Hiddleston read out chunks of an interview with JG Ballard to highlight the man’s prescience. Here are the excerpts from Jon Savage’s interview with Ballard from 1978. Note Ballard more or less predicts the coming age of social media, digital news and selfies:

“I think the biggest developments over the next twenty, thirty years are going to be through the introduction of VHS systems, and I don’t just mean the cassette thing, playback gadgets – that in itself would be quite revolutionary – but when, say, every room in everybody’s house or flat has got a camerarecording what’s going on – the transformation of the home into a TV studio is a creation of a new kind of reality. A reality that is electronic.”

“… when you at last get a camera, you spend your time photographing children in a paddling pool. But after a while, you get more ambitious and you start taking an interest in the world at large. I think the same thing will happen, beginning with people endlessly photographing themselves, shaving, having dinner together having domestic rows. Of course, the bedroom applications are obvious. But I think they’ll go beyond that, to the point where each of us will be at the centre of a sort of non-stop serial, with all kinds of possibilities let in.”

“I can see that coming. But I can see a sort of huge extension of video. Live material which will be accessible at the press of a button, so that as now you can dial a poem or a record of the weather, you’ll be able to dial a visual input of, say, all the newsreel material filmed yesterday in Los Angeles – I’m talking about somebody living in a London suburb.”

About Joshua White

a writer and journalist living in the UK where he works as Africa editor and researcher for the World Weekly. White is a philosophy graduate, specialising in political thought, and maintained a blog for several years. His main focus is national and international politics having written on subjects as seemingly far apart as US elections, Russian nationalism and the state of modern Britain.
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