Drowned worlds


Hollywood at Night (2006).

Alexis Rockman‘s paintings of swamped or ruined American landmarks present views which are a novelty in contemporary art galleries whilst being very familiar to science fiction readers. Many of these could well be illustrations for JG Ballard’s 1981 novel, Hello America, which imagined a depopulated United States reclaimed by flora and fauna. Others would suit The Drowned World, of course, and they bear favourable comparison with Dick French’s illustrated edition (below) which was also published in 1981.


Gateway Arch (2005).

Rockman’s hothouse atmospheres remind me of earlier paintings of Brazilian wildlife by another American artist, Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904), many of whose tropical landscapes only require a distant ruin or two to match Rockman’s work. (Tip via Design Observer.)


The Drowned World by Dick French (1981).

While we’re on the subject, Ballardian has posted the first of three features about my colleagues at Savoy Books, beginning with a Michael Butterworth interview which discusses some of Ballard’s connections with Savoy. One of the subsequent posts should see yours truly discussing the visual dimension of the Savoy world. More about that later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The coming of the dust
Ballard and the painters