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J. G. Ballard's 'Crash! A Science Theatre Presentation for the ICA': The Context of a Document Newly Discovered

Chris Beckett (notes)

Abstract

In the spring of 1968, J. G. Ballard drafted an eight-page outline for a multi-media 'science theatre presentation' called 'Crash!' It was to be performed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Although the event was teasingly promoted in a full-page feature in the Sunday Mirror newspaper ('A Star Role for the Beloved Monster that Lives on Sex and Sacrifice'), the performance did not take place. The narrator was to have been Ballard's close friend, the psychologist and computer scientist Chris Evans. According to Ballard's autobiography, Miracles of Life, Evans was the physical model for Vaughan, 'the auto-destructive hero of my novel Crash'. Evans – who worked at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, not far from Shepperton, where Ballard lived – died in 1979. Following his death, Evans's papers, which included his copy of the 'Crash!' outline, were packed away, undisturbed until recently. In the summer of 2017, Nancy Evans donated to the British Library her husband’s copy of the outline, the only surviving text. This article reproduces Ballard's typescript in full, discusses its relationship to the novel Crash (1973), and explores the context of the ICA.

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